You might expect Satan’s Kingdom to be at the bottom of your bucket list. After all, fire and brimstone don’t exactly make for a relaxing vacation.
But this state recreation area isn’t a gateway to hell. Instead, it’s the entry point for countless outdoor adventures.
Today, we’re exploring this unique destination that simply doesn’t live up to its name.
Let’s head down!
About Satan’s Kingdom
When you hear the moniker Satan’s Kingdom, you might imagine a firey underworld where evil forces rule the land. However, this state recreation area is nothing of the sort. Rather than demons performing unspeakable acts, you’ll find friendly locals hiking through the forest and tubing down the river.
While this destination is mainly unheard of to outsiders, it’s popular among folks in the know. Especially in summer, people aching to get out into nature come here to fish for brown trout, swim, and kayak.
Lots of wildlife inhabit the region. You might spot white-tailed deer, river otters, and various birds. Ravens, sparrows, and mallards are common. If you’re lucky, you can even glimpse a bald eagle.
Although Satan’s Kingdom is a mere one-acre piece of land, it’s the jumping-off point for many outdoor adventures. Best of all, you can enjoy the grounds at no cost. Of course, you’ll pay a fee to rent a tube for the day, but other activities are free.
Where Is Satan’s Kingdom?
Satan’s Kingdom is located in Northern Connecticut. The Farmington River carved a gorge through the rugged, green mountains. In 1994, officials designated this waterway the state’s first National Wild and Scenic River. Its value as an ecosystem, wildlife refuge, and recreational destination helped it earn this status.
The closest town is New Hartford, Connecticut. Their motto is “A Town for All Seasons,” and they mean it.
When the weather’s warm, you can get out on the water by boat, kayak, or paddleboard. Hiking and mountain biking are also popular. In winter, skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating are top activities. And naturally, fall leaves put on a show as soon as the temperature drops.
Any time of year, you can find tasty food at local restaurants and breweries or catch a live performance at a theater downtown.
How Did Satan’s Kingdom Get Its Name?
Several conflicting stories exist about the origins of this recreation area’s name. The most prevalent belief is that an angry farmer, jaded by his inability to grow crops in the region, declared the land Satan’s Kingdom.
Others claim that the region was once a haven for outlaws. According to the townsfolk, only troublemakers would venture into the outskirts. While we can’t be sure whether the title or the demographics came first, many reports say folks who didn’t fit into society would retreat to the damned parcel.
Finally, some state that a Native American leader called Satan dominated the region in the early 1800s. And in fact, we know that folks have used the moniker to reference the valley since that time.
No matter how the land was named, the views are nowhere near the underworld. We think you’ll agree when you see the verdant mountains and babbling brooks for yourself.
Here’s where else to go on your trip: 10 Best RV Destinations in New England.
Best Hikes Near Satan’s Kingdom
You already know this area is a sanctuary for hikers. But you’ll have a lot to choose from when you arrive. These are a couple of top picks to help you narrow down your options.
Just north of Satan’s Kingdom is Jones Mountain. Three trails meander through the forest, eventually leading to a scenic overlook where you’ll have views of the sprawling landscape below. Much of the system is based on old carriage paths. You’ll see the ruins of farms along the way to the summit.
Set aside about an hour and a half to traverse this 2.6-mile route. And if you are here in winter, we suggest snowshoeing along them for a unique experience.
Farmington River Trail (Black Bridge Road)
Sometimes called the Helen Butler Riverfront Trail, it’s no surprise this two-mile out-and-back trek follows along the Farmington River. Most people say it’s a pretty easy hike and takes about 40 minutes. But plenty of side paths mean you can extend your excursion if you’d like.
Dogs are allowed on a leash, and many pups enjoy splashing along the river’s edge.
Discover more trails with 50 Hikes Connecticut.
Best Places to Stay Near Satan’s Kingdom
Why miss the chance to tell your friends you’ve stayed in Satan’s Kingdom? While you might not be able to overnight in the one-acre recreation area, you can get pretty close. Here are two great options nearby.
Austin Hawes Campground
You’ll find the Austin Hawes Campground in the American Legion State Forest, about 15 minutes north of Satan’s Kingdom. They only offer dry spots but have access to water, restrooms with showers, and a dump station during the busy season.
During winter, it’s boondocking with no services at all. Be sure to call ahead so you know what amenities are available.
If you stay there, you’ll be welcomed by spacious pull-thru lots and access to the river for fishing.
White Pines Campsites
Folks looking for more creature comforts might want to check out White Pines Campsites. Sites have water, 30- and 50-Amp electrical service, cable TV, and free WiFi. But the extracurriculars are where they really shine.
Keep yourself busy on the basketball court or in their game room. Throw a round of horseshoes, play Giant Jenga, or enjoy a dip in the swimming pool. There’s a general store where you can stock up on snacks and rent gaming equipment.
And on many weekends, they host special events like movie nights and crafts for kids and adults.
More overnight options: The Best Free Camping in the Northeast.
Is a Satan’s Kingdom Road Trip Worth It?
If you ask us, a road trip to Satan’s Kingdom is totally worth it. Even if you only go to have your picture taken next to the sign, you’ll leave with a pretty cool souvenir. However, you’ll get much more out of it if you stick around and explore the area.
Stunning scenery, excellent fishing opportunities, and plenty of quiet hiking trails are out there waiting to be explored!
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