Soapstone Mountain is a mountain in Somers, CT. The summit is 1075′ (328m). It’s located in the 7000+ acre Shenipsit State Forest which is located in the towns of Somers, Stafford and Ellington, CT. It’s a popular spot with the only observation tower in Eastern Connecticut. Although the summit is not that high, it is prominent over the surrounding terrain and an observation tower on its summit provides a commanding view that includes four states.
Soapstone Mountain gets its name from the historic quarry that was located on its slopes. The remains of the quarry can still be seen today along the Quarry Trail located on the eastern slope. The trail leads from the summit area to the base parking area.
The trail and the mountain get their name from an old quarry that mined soapstone. Soapstone was used in many homes in the colonial days and thus the quarry provided an important resource. Little information is know about the quarry but it certainly did exist!
Soapstone Mountain is where the surrounding Shenipsit State Forest started. It was purchased by the state in 1927 to erect a fire tower. That fire tower remained until the late 1970s when it was removed.
The Soapstone Mountain area is full of recreational opportunities. The area is popular with hikers, mountain bike riders, picnicking and other outdoor activities.
An annual race takes place on the mountain. The 24km race has been run since the 1970s and uses the mountains terrain to add to race.
There is an auto road which leads to the summit off Gulf Road in Somers. The summit area features a small parking area and so if it is full you will need to park at the base and hike up. Beware that the site can become crowded on weekends and both parking areas can be full.
Surrounding the summit area are several picnic sites with a view looking to the north and east. One is located just off the summit and offers a great view to the east.
As you walk from the summit area parking lot to the actual summit, there is a fenced in area which houses a tower that was the former Bradley International Airport National Weather Service office’s weather radar. That tower is where the former fire tower was located. The for radar tower now holds antenna’s for the State Police and Tolland County Fire Departments. There is also a building located in the fenced in area that houses the transmitter equipment.
Near the fenced in area is the obvious high point and a rock with a USGS marker indicating the actual summit.
Also on the summit is the observation platform. Closed for several years due to vandalism, it re-opened in 2018. It features a commanding view of the Connecticut River Valley and the surrounding hills. From the platform to can see Mount Greylock in Massachusetts, Hogback Mountain in Vermont and Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire. All three are over 60 miles away. Springfield, Massachusetts is also in view.
Considering that the view takes in four states, it’s a great place to take in New England’s fall foliage!
Soapstone Mountain is located in the middle of the nearly 7000 acre Shenipsit State Forest. The forest includes many forest roads and trails for different outdoor enthusiasts.
The surrounding forest consists of miles of trails. The extensive trail system is used by hikers and mountain bikers. Trails include a variety of terrain from steep sections to relatively flat ones. The trails can either be accessed from the summit area or the base parking area.
The regional state forest headquarters is located in Shenipsit State Forest and features the Northeast States CCC Museum. The headquarters are a former CCC Camp and the buildings are setup to show how life was when the CCC was active. They helped plant trees, build roads, picnic and other facilities in forests across the country.
The state forest is connected to other conservation areas such as Bald Mountain in Somers which is the highest point along the eastern Connecticut River Valley in Massachusetts. It also connects to several local land trust parcels allowing one to hike from the center of town to the summit on conservation land.
Soapstone Mountain is great place to get out and enjoy nature, even from the comfort of your car or spending an entire day hiking around with rewarding views.