Monday, May 28, 2012

Austin F. Hawes Memorial Campground/American Legion State Forest

This was our first trip of the year, and also our first time at American Legion State Forest/Austin Hawes Campground in Barkhamsted, CT - and it was a great start to the camping season!  Despite the minor setback prior to our trip (see previous post below) we arrived at a decent hour on Thursday late in the afternoon and had plenty of time to set up.  We anxiously awaited the arrival of our camping comrades, Auntie Barb and Uncle Ken and then went and got pizza since we were all tired from the drive and set-up - a good first night!

Site 12 - It was enormous!

I do a lot of research prior to our trips and almost always have a pretty good idea of what to expect - I generally don't do well with surprises - it throws my "plan" off.  But upon our arrival at the campground, I checked in at the office and was surprised when I was given a stern warning NOT to leave ANY food outside unattended overnight or during the day, as apparently the black bears in the area have been extremely active recently and visit the campsites quite often, even going into tents!  I had not planned on starring in an episode of Yogi Bear this weekend - but it didn't appear as if we had much of a choice at this point.

A little bit of rain overnight into Friday morning and cloudy skies meant a somewhat damp day on Friday.  But the rain held off during the day which allowed us to walk the campground and check out the other sites.  There are several paths that lead down to the Farmington River and we eventually found our way down there where I got a couple of nice pictures of the kids and the scenery.

The kids also got a chance to do some fishing, though they have yet to catch anything on any of our trips!

The sites at this campground are HUGE.  Some of the biggest I've seen yet.  And they are spaced out so far apart - there had to be at least 100 feet of trees between us and the next site, if not more.  There are a total of 30 sites here and the campground is shaped like a figure eight.  Our site was on the outside edge of the campground, closest to the road - Site 12.  As a result we had a lot of traffic noise.  I would recommend booking sites on the inside, closer to the river.  Of course, with an 11 month booking window you'd better book them early - the sites close to the river fill up very fast!!  There are several sites that have another site directly across the road - these would be ideal for camping with others.  My personal favorite was site 5 - far from the traffic noise, enormous, and a little path that goes down to the river.

The bear warning was on my mind much of the time, of course.  To say that I was a bit "jumpy" for most of the weekend would probably be an understatement.  At one point while Ed was inside the camper taking a nap, he began to snore and I jumped out of my chair and gathered everyone inside yelling "OH MY GOD, WHAT WAS THAT?!?!"  Of course I felt a little silly afterwards, because to be honest Ed sounds much more like a grizzly bear than a black bear when he snores...

On Friday afternoon Barb and I headed to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner.  While we were shopping I received a text from Ed letting me know that the park ranger had stopped by and alerted them that a bear had been seen entering the campground.  We never did see him, but the following day while Auntie Barb was out tag sale-ing a few miles down the road, she snapped this picture:


We had hoped to get in some geocaching and letterboxing, but unfortunately this trip was cut 1 day short because Sarah was not feeling well and got sick Saturday night.  We packed up on Sunday and were on the road around 1pm.  It was disappointing, but then again we were also glad to get home have an extra day to mow the lawn, do the laundry - all that fun stuff.

Stay tuned - in about 3 weeks we head up to Tolland State Forest in Otis, MA.  One of my favorites!!


  1. The Farmington is one of the best Trout streams in New England. I spent many nights in site #8 at Hawes campground, before moving to Tucson, and I miss it. I hope you enjoyed the Farmington. Great Blog!