Indian Lore Walk
All trails are in Peoples State Forest in Pleasant Valley, CT. Take Rte. 8 to Winsted, at the jct. of Rte. 44 and Rte. 8, take Rte. 44 east for 5 mi., take a left on Rte. 318 north for 1 mi., cross the metal bridge, take your first left on East River Rd., follow for 1 mi. Take a right on Greenwoods Rd., into Peoples State Forest and follow past the Nature Museum and Forest Headquarters for 1.4 mi. The entrance to the Indian Lore Loop is marked by a blue blaze with a yellow center. Park along the road.
TRAIL DIRECTIONS: Brown signs mark all trailheads in Peoples State Forest. Several different color blazes are used, always identified by a circle blaze with a different color circle center. On this walk, you will follow the blue and yellow trail to the blue and orange trail which loops back to the blue and yellow trail to your starting point. The trails are open year round from 8:00 a.m. until Sunset.
HIGHLIGHTS: Walk in the footsteps of northwest Connecticut's woodland Indians, along crystal clear streams running through cool dense forests to an ancient Soapstone Quarry. Along the way, you will pass charcoal hearths and colonial foundations, wetlands teaming with wildlife, and the remains of Indian campsites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A small fieldstone museum displays artifacts discovered from archaeological digs, collections of flora and fauna found throughout the forest, and documents and photo's tracing the park's early years.
Before beginning your walk, visit the Nature Museum, on the left as you enter the Park. It is open seasonally and has displays of the park's flora, fauna, wildlife, and exhibits of Indian artifacts and dioramas of the Stone Quarry.
After exploring the Museum's exhibits, take Greenwoods Rd. for 1.4 mi. to the blue and yellow blazed trail on the right. Hiker parking on the road.
To begin, follow blue and yellow blazes along an old wagon path through a cluster of maples and hemlocks.
In ten minutes, you will reach Beaver Brook Bridge, rumored to be a favorite of bears that live in the forest. Thousands of years ago, when the Indians camped here, a glacial deposit of rocks created a dam that transformed this brook into a lake teeming with wildlife. Looking upstream, from the bridge, you will see some of the rocks that formed the dam.
Just beyond the bridge, you will ascend a kame terrace whose flattop and steep sides provided a well-drained area for Indians to locate their campsites. As you walk along the terrace look for the remains of two large charcoal hearths, 50 ft. to the left. Hearths are identified as level areas about 30 ft. wide with a shallow ditch around their edge. Charcoal was made here, from the Revolutionary War through the Civil War, by piling 30 cords of wood together, covering it with leaves and pine needles, and banking it with a dirt ditch. It took 14 days to burn the wood to produce charcoal for the area's iron ore furnaces.
For the next 20 minutes you are, literally walking in the footsteps of the woodland Indians that made this terrace their home from 2000 BC to 600 AD. This area is on the National Register of Historic Places because of the recent discovery of 18 Indian village sites and many artifacts. It is easy to understand why the Indians were drawn to this Eden like spot with its sheltering trees, fresh water, abundant wildlife, fertile fields, wetlands with reeds for weaving, and soapstone for quarrying.
Descending from the terrace, continue following the blue and yellow blazes, past the ruins of a colonial house foundation on the right and the remains of a meat-smoking chamber in the base of the large hollow chimney.
In 25 minutes, you will reach a dirt road. Cross the dirt road (Pack Grove Rd) and walk straight ahead following the blue and yellow trail through a cluster of mature beech trees.
In 25 minutes, you'll reach a second dirt road. cross it and continue following the blue and yellow trail. A trail marker points the way. Soon, you will enter a shaded picnic area next to a clear rushing brook.
Follow the trail through the picnic area; the brook is on your left. At the intersection of the picnic area and Beaver Brook Rd, take a left and cross the fieldstone bridge.
Enjoy a pleasant 25- minute ramble down this peaceful park road that is shaded by hemlocks and edged with Mountain Laurel, the state flower that blooms in May and June.
Take your first left following the blue and orange blazes back into the woods. Archaeologists have found many Indian artifacts in this area and believe it to be one, of many, Indian campsites that have been found throughout the Forest.
At the intersection of the blue and orange trail and Greenwoods Road, take a left on Greenwoods Rd.; follow it out of the woods for a few minutes.
At the sign of the double blaze, turn left, back into the woods and continue following the blue and orange trail passing a wetland marsh where you will see a multitude of wildlife, flora and fauna that attracted the Indians to make this area their home, so long ago.
At the intersection of the blue and orange blazes and the blue and yellow blazes, turn right on the blue and yellow blazed trail and follow it to Greenwoods Rd. where this loop began.
To reach the Ancient Indian Soap Stone Quarry go to the jct. of East River Rd. and Rte. 318, take a left on Rte. 318 / Rte. 181 north, at the 318 and 181 split, take Rte. 181 north for .5 mi., take a left on Park Road. The entrance trail is marked by a blue and red blaze. Hiker parking is on the left.
Follow the blue and red blazes into the woods for ten minutes. Take a left onto the blue blazed side trail. Just beyond the ruins of a coal miner's shelter the trail turns to the right and begins a short ascent to an impressive outcrop of ledge. The face of the ancient soapstone quarry is three minutes beyond the outcrop.
Native Americans worked this quarry 4,000 years ago for at least 1,000 years. Retrace your steps.