Letter boxing is the fun of using a compass and treasure hunting in the woods. I have done this with my kids and grandkids for years. Even little ones can take a compass and follow a heading of 180 degrees.
There are several letterboxing sites in Montville. Some are easy and some are more difficult.
To begin, get a compass, a small notebook, pencil or pen and make an ink stamp. We use craft foam that we cut out shapes and hot glue to the bottom of a laundry soap container.
We start by writing down the name of the place where we are and the date. I like to use state parks first as the paths are usually clearer.
A letterbox is a plastic container - usually a food storage box - containing a logbook, an ink stamp (that was made by the owner) and ink pad, left by the owner.
I usually bring a small inkpad as everyone is not good about closing them and you may find them dried out.
Please remember to seal everything back up watertight and replace it back where you found it. Hidden just as it was.
To begin letterboxing, click here.
All Connecticut state forests have letterboxes hidden in them. If you visit at least five of these letterboxes, you can earn a custom designed Connecticut State Forests Centennial Patch. Proof of your visit will be verified by the stamp record you leave, as well as through your own record book. To find out about letterboxing in Connecticut state parks and foreces, click here.
There are lots of places to go letterboxing in Montville. One is Hopemead State Park, on Gardner Lake. This spot is the same as it was a century ago so please remember to leave it that way.
This hike is a total of 20 minutes 10 in and 10 out. Click here for the letterboxing directions. Why don’t you try it?
Directions: From the intersection of Connecticut, route 82 and Connecticut Route 354, head East on RT. 82 for 1/2 mile and turn left onto Doyle Road. Turn left again after another 1/2 mile or so and turn left onto Cottage Lane. You will find the entrance to Hopemead State Park on your left in 0.7 miles. It is not well marked, just a small (3 car) parking area, and a green iron gate with a couple of picnic tables.
Total time in and out if that is all you do, 20 minutes. This is a lovely area on a quiet corner of Gardner Lake, much like you would find a hundred years ago. Take a fishing pole, go for dip, enjoy the view and walk around and explore a bit.
Follow the wide trail into the woods, generally heading west. It won’t be long before stone walls line the trail on either side, and the lake begins to shimmer through the trees. Shortly you will pass through two cedars, one on either side of the trail.
Continue to follow the main trail in lazy curves down towards the lake. You will soon see a fork, and the trail will pass through a break in a stone wall perpendicular to the trail just before the fork. Pass through this stone wall, and then bushwhack off-trail along the wall on a bearing (all bearings given will be magnetic) of 190. Pass by some pipes sticking up from the ground on your right, then come to a corner in the wall and pass over the wall in front of you.
Proceed along a bearing of 180 to a break in the next wall in front of you that has a fallen tree across the break. Look inside the end of the wall at the western end of this fallen log for your treasure! These directions are courtesy of the Connecticut DEEP.
Another spot in Montville is Chaney Ranch which is more difficult. To see a list of more spots, click here.
Make a letterboxing bag
I used heavy paper here but you can use craft foam if you plan on doing lots of letterboxing. Start with a sheet of 8 x 12 craft foam and a sheet of 8x8 craft foam.
Picture 1 - Supplies
Fold over 4 inches of the 8 X 12 sheet of foam to make the flap of the bag.
Picture 2 - Fold
Now, using a hole punch, punch holes through both pieces of craft foam about every inch or so apart. Remember do not get to close to the corner.
Picture 3 - Hole punch
Take a piece of yarn about 14 yards long and fold it in half. String it through the first hole in both pieces of craft foam and tie a knot, leaving about 5 inches hanging for decorations.
Picture 4 - String
Now take the yarn and start threading in it from back to front down the side across the bottom and back up the side and around the edge of the flap. I like to take a piece of tape to the end of it to use it like a sewing needles.
Picture 5 - Sewing needle
Now you are back where you began. Take the needle to the other side and string it in the top hole to make your handle. Keep going back to the beginning hole and the other side (to have 3 loops of yarn). Then tie it off and leave another 5 inches hanging for decorations.
Picture 6 - Stitched bag
Now using the same tape method for the ends of the yarn, string beads onto the 5 inches left hanging. You can ink stamp your bag or glue designs on it. It will hold all your letterboxing stuff.
Picture 7 - Finished bag with letterboxing stuff
This same procedure can be used to make sit upons. They are great for camping, ball games or sporting events. Use a larger piece of craft foam or go to a fabric store and buy vinal fabric.
Punch holes on all four sides and lace three sides up. Take a zipper style plastic bag and fold up newspaper in place inside zipper bag and seal. Place the bag inside your sit upon and stitch up the last side. Now you have a cushion for your event. You can even use the same procedure to make a strap to carry it with.