Indian Council Caves & Soapstone Quarry – Barkhamstead, CT
This is a fun Archeological Preserve hike, it’s an out and back hike and only a mile total. To start the hike jump on the Blue/Red trail. At a little under the half mile mark (where it gets a tad bit steep) look for the red blaze. About .1 of a mile after turning onto the red trail there is a Large Rock on the left, behind this rock is a flat soapstone rock with a bowl – these date back to 800 BCE! Continue on this trail to the Indian Cave at 0.5. The cave is a wide rock overhang from a large ledge. Last time I was there someone had spray painted arrows and such pointing to the caves as if you’re looking for GIANT caves you may miss them.
This is a really easy short hike with very little elevation gain. Great for the whole family and pups! I’ve never seen more than two others on this trail so it does give way to a nice relaxing hike. When I go I usually continue down the Blue/Red trail for a bit to get in extra miles for the hike but there isn’t much on the trail after the caves section.
Parking: Park at the Elliot Bronson Trailhead on Park Road (41°55’19.5″ N 72°58’21.5″W ), 0.1 mile north of the rt. 181 junction.
Before the age of clay pottery, soapstone bowls were in great demand for cooking. Soapstone was not that common, so this small area in Barkhamsted was a very valuable location. These early American Indians would carve a mushroom shape structure out of the soft soapstone, then break it off, & carve out the inside to create a bowl. To finish the bowl, they moved to a shelter (the caves) area away from the quarry. It provided some shelter & a good location for workers to complete their bowls. Evidence of stone tools & soapstone chips have been found there. All of this was being done before the Greeks built the Parthenon !!! In 1620, the Pilgrims discovered a culture that had a 2,400 year history living in New England. Source