Kent Falls is one of Connecticut’s most popular state parks, with hundreds of thousands of people taking advantage of its picnic area and cooling waters every summer. There remains at least one part of it, however, that is hidden in plain sight.
Nearly all visitors who hike to the top of the falls do so via the paved path and steps. At the northern end of the parking lot, however, is the red blazed trail. Following this trail for a tenth of a mile brings the explorer to the yellow blazed trail. The reward for the additional effort is a gradual switch-backed ascent to the top of the falls, with magnificent stone retaining walls supporting the trail (which is an old road bed.)
The stone walls were built by the men of the Camp Macedonia unit of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The camp opened in June 1935 and employed 202 men. While originally opened to build what would become Macedonia State Park, suitable land for a camp was not available near Macedonia Brook. (The site of Camp Macedonia has only within the last five years been located; its location is not being shared as means of preserving it are determined.)
In addition to the stone walls, the CCC also constructed the picnic area and the other trails to the top of the falls. In exchange for their labor, the men received $30 per month, $25 of which had to be sent home to their families. They were also provided with food, lodging, medical care and education, a desired commodity as most of the men had only an eighth-grade education. Responsible men were paid an extra fifty cents a weeks to serve as leaders, helping the two army officers stationed at the camp with its administration.
Most go to Kent Falls to admire its natural beauty. It is appropriate, however, to also spend a moment reflecting on the men who made this natural beauty accessible to us.