Thursday, July 21, 2016

Hike #38: Lion's Head - Salisbury, CT

Date Hiked: Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Estimated distance: 2.35 miles
Weather: 80°F, sunny
Resources:  Berkshire Hiking, Hike the Hudson Valley, Agile Trekker, Hiking the Taconic Range,
Highlights of the trip:  views from the top
Progress toward 2016 hiking goals:  38/52 hikes; 143.49/250 miles; 31.37/25 miles on Tunxis Trail

My hiking partner contacted me with an idea for a hike that would allow me to check off one of my hiking goals for the year:  Hike on the Appalachian Trail.

This was a relatively short hike, but since I hadn't been out hiking in a couple of weeks, I was a little afraid of biting off more than I could chew.  This hike was perfect.

You can get instructions on how to get to the trail head from Berkshire Hiking, linked above.  I will note that the center of Salisbury is a mess right now with a paving job going on on Route 44.  Hopefully it will be done before too long.

We got to the trail head parking lot around 9:45 and were the only ones there.  The beginning of the trail is on the east side of Bunker Hill Road and from here we had fantastic views of the surrounding countryside.

We crossed Bunker Hill Road and entered the woods.  Before long we started a fairly steady climb to the summit.  The Appalachian Trail, blazed white, came in on the right and joined the trail we had been on, which was blazed light blue.  We reached a flat area where the trails diverged.  The Appalachian Trail heads to the right up a short, but fairly steep hill to the top.  This is the route we took, but you can also stay straight and take the blue trail which loops around to the top and is not as steep.  We took the blue trail on our way down.

White-blazed Appalachian Trail.
The view from the top is well worth the climb (and it really wasn't that bad a climb).  We could see Twin Lakes to the east (where we were headed after our hike) with Toms Hill behind it.

Twin Lakes to the east.

Looking southeast.
As we stood taking in the view, we heard voices approaching.  A young couple from Florida arrived.  I believe she was through hiking the AT and he was joining her for the week.   We had a nice chat with them and headed out.  There were a couple of other guys that looked like through hikers taking a break under the sign for the summit.

We continued on the trail until we came to the plateau (mentioned on the Berkshire Hiking website) with nice views looking north.  Maybe Bear Mountain in the distance, I am not sure.  I was supposed to download the PeakFinder app, but it hasn't happened yet.

We left the plateau and headed back along the blue trail.  It looped back around to the place where we had taken the steeper climb up to the top, and then we went back down along the trail to the car.  Not a long hike at all and round 500 feet of elevation gain.

Once we got out of the mess that was downtown Salisbury, we made our way over to my friend's cabin on Twin Lakes and had a picnic lunch and caught up.  At other times, we've come out here to go kayaking, but today it was just yakking.  Hiking and having a picnic with a friend is a great way to spend a summer day.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Hike #37: McLean Game Refuge - Granby, CT

Date Hiked: Sunday, July 3, 2016
Estimated distance: 3.65 miles
Weather: 79°F, sunny
Resources:  McLean Game Refuge Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  views of Spring Pond and fields
Progress toward 2016 hiking goals:  37/52 hikes; 141.14/250 miles; 31.37/25 miles on Tunxis Trail

I didn't plan, so did a tried and true hike today.

Spring Pond.

Water lilies.

Western Barndoor Hill off to the left.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Update: 2016 Hiking Goals

An update at the end of the second quarter.

1.  Take 52 hikes.  
36/52 hikes.  I am more than half-way to my goal, so I am ahead of schedule.

2.  Hike for 250 miles.
137.49/250 miles.  To be on target, I should have completed 125 miles in the first 6 months.  I am ahead of schedule, but this is the goal that keeps me motivated.  I'm afraid I will slack off in the warmer weather.

3.  Hike at least 25 miles of the Tunxis Trail
31.37/25 miles.  This goal has been completed.  There are more miles that can be done on this trail, but unless they form a loop where my hiking partner and I can just take one car, we probably won't do them.  They are just too far away to justify two cars.

4.  Visit Bash Bish Falls (Massachusetts)

5.  Hike Mount Monadnock (New Hampshire)

6.  Visit a "new-to-me" state park or forest in Massachusetts (Bash Bish does not count).
Hiked the D.A.R. State Forest in Goshen, MA on April 23.

7.  Hike on the Appalachian Trail

I had hoped to have Bash Bish done by now, but it just hasn't worked out, probably because I have it in my head to combine it with nearby Alander Mountain and that requires more planning.  I know where I want to go on the Appalachian Trail, I just want someone to go with me since it is farther away.  With the Tunxis out of the way, I should be able to focus on getting one of these other goals done in the next quarter.

Hike #36: Hedgehog Trail - Simsbury, CT

Date Hiked: Thursday, June 30, 2016
Estimated distance: 1.00 miles
Weather: 77°F, sunny
Resources:  Simsbury Land Trust WalkBook
Highlights of the trip:  view
Progress toward 2016 hiking goals:  36/52 hikes; 137.49/250 miles; 31.37/25 miles on Tunxis Trail

My son asked if I would join him for a hike.  I couldn't pass that up!  I know he likes something that provides a "wow" factor and he wanted something relatively close to home, so we decided to climb up to the lookout on the Hedgehog Trail, part of the Western Highlands in Simsbury. 

It was a relatively quick up and back, starting from the end of North Saddle Ridge Drive.  We parked in the cul-de-sac and climbed up past the non-existent waterfall.  The views from the top are excellent.  Looking north, you will see the Barndoor Hills in Granby and farther west and north you can see Mount Tom in Massachusetts.

Mount Tom is far left just above the tree branch.  Barndoor Hills in the middle of the picture.

This wrapped up my first six months of hiking in 2016, so my next post will take a look at the progress I have made on my hiking goals.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hike #37: McLean Game Refuge - Granby, CT

Date Hiked: Sunday, July 3, 2016
Estimated distance: 3.65 miles
Weather: 79°F, sunny
Resources:  McLean Game Refuge Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  views of Spring Pond and fields
Progress toward 2016 hiking goals:  37/52 hikes; 141.14/250 miles; 31.37/25 miles on Tunxis Trail

I didn't plan, so did a tried and true hike today.

Spring Pond.

Water lilies.

Western Barndoor Hill off to the left.

Hike #35: Metacomet Trail (Rte 6 to Rattlesnake Mountain and Pinnacle Rock) - Farmington and Plainville, CT

Date Hiked: Sunday, June 26, 2016
Estimated distance: 4.21 miles (although it felt twice that)
Weather: 82°F, sunny
Resources:  CFPA Interactive Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  view from Rattlesnake Mountain, people met along the way
Progress toward 2016 hiking goals:  35/52 hikes; 136.49/250 miles; 31.37/25 miles on Tunxis Trail

This relatively short hike kicked my butt.  I'm a slow hiker, but today I was REALLY slow.  It was probably the heat and not having had enough to drink that did me in.  I thank my hiking partner and her husband for being so patient.  Sorry guys!

Today's hike was Rattlesnake Mountain in Farmington to Pinnacle Rock just over the line in Plainville.  It is part of the New England/Metacomet Trail.  On the elevation chart above, the little hump in the middle is Pinnacle Rock.  This was an out and back hike, so the two sides should be a reflection of each other.

We started our hike on the side of Route 6 just east of Pinnacle Road in Farmington (there is a nearby Pinnacle Road in Plainville).  The parking area is a little west of where the Metacomet crosses the road, but a newer trail has been blazed from the parking area to the Metacomet.

My hiking partner pointed out all the poison ivy on the side of the trail, but thankfully someone had done a nice job of cutting it back.  My friend's husband was geocaching and all the rock formations along the way provided plenty of great hiding places.

Not long before reaching the top of Rattlesnake Mountain, we came to Will Warren's Den.  You can read about the den here and here.  This nice little video put together by Farmington Alternative High School shows just what you would have to do to get into the cave.  Maybe another time.

Will Warren's Den.
The views from the cliffs at Rattlesnake Mountain are worth the hike. Looking north, you can see the city of Hartford.

Hartford, just left of center.  (Looks better than camera shows).

Looking south, you can see East and West Peak at Hubbard Park in Meriden, and in front of those the Tilcon quarry in Plainville.  On the small hill just south, you can see the bare area of rock that is the Pinnacle.  We headed there next.

When you leave the cliffs, you end up making a fairly steep descent right underneath them.  One of the unique areas of this trail comes here, when you go through a small tunnel made by the rocks.  No standing up straight to go through.

The trail coming down from the cliffs.

Going through the tunnel.

Of course, this is when you realize you will be doing this in reverse if you haven't spotted a car at the other end of the trail.

After reaching the bottom, we crossed an area of weeds and shrubs under the power lines and started climbing up the other side.  We stepped to the side to make way for a couple of hikers coming from the other direction and took a few minutes to talk.  The man in the lead was 70 years old and on his final section of the Metacomet Trail.  He was on his way to Route 4 in Farmington.  Wow!  Congratulations to him and I hope I am able to do this when I am 70.

Looking back at radio towers that dominate the mountain.
We made it to Pinnacle Rock and I have to say it was a bit of a disappointment.  I am not sure why, but it just didn't have the same wow factor as Rattlesnake.  Maybe because it didn't feel as remote with the homes just below.  I would blame it on being tired and thirsty, but my hiking partners felt the same. 

On the way back to the car, I really struggled.  Even so, I was quite offended when I heard what the "woman" on the MapMyHike app had to say.  I was climbing back up to the cliffs at Rattlesnake and was not too far past the tunnel, when she said I had reached 3 miles and my split was "not moving".  Hey!  If she recognized that I had passed 3 miles, I must be moving a little bit!  (I wonder if there is another voice on the app.  It might have been easier to take from a nice Scotsman named "Angus").

We met a few other hikers on the return.  Our recommendation for most of them was to definitely hike to the Rattlesnake lookout, but that it wasn't really worth the extra effort to get to get to Pinnacle Rock.

Hike #34: Burr Pond - Torrington, CT

Date Hiked: Saturday, June 25, 2016
Estimated distance: 2.96 miles
Weather: 75°F, sunny
Resources:  Burr Pond State Park, Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  view from peninsula, mountain laurel
Progress toward 2016 hiking goals:  34/52 hikes; 132.28/250 miles; 31.37/25 miles on Tunxis Trail

I was looking for a hike I hadn't done in awhile, so I chose Burr Pond.  Looking back on other blog posts, I can't believe the last time I was out here was 2013, and that was to kayak.

The mountain laurel were in full bloom.

More mountain laurel.
I parked at the boat launch and walked counter-clockwise around the pond on the Walcott Trail.  There were a few cars in the parking lot and people out in small aluminum boats doing some fishing.  I also saw some people in kayaks.  It was the perfect day to be out on the water.

Black "dot" in the water in the middle of the picture is a snapping turtle.

Glacial erratic.

I hadn't printed off the map (because how hard can it be to walk around a pond, right?), so I was a little confused by some of the other trails.  There is a blue and white blazed trail that goes off just before you get to the glacial erratic.  This trail loops back around to the Walcott Trail and also connects to the John Muir Trail which takes you over to Sunny Brook State Park. 

At the glacial erratic there is a blue and yellow trail that goes off to a point of rock.  I think it just ends here, but I started to wonder if it led to the peninsula.  I knew the trail to the peninsula was also blue and yellow, but the trail here seemed to be very steep and I am not sure it was "sanctioned".  I don't remember taking this steep trail the last time I was here.  I decided to go back to the main trail and continued until I found the trail to the peninsula.

It is definitely worth taking the trail down to the peninsula.  It offers wonderful views of the pond and some of the little islands that are scattered about.

Heading out to the peninsula.

From the end of the peninsula, you can see across to the beach at Burr Pond State Park.  I could hear the kids playing in the water.  Unfortunately, the day after I was here, a little boy drowned.

Swamp azalea.

In addition to the swimming area, the state park has picnic areas and they even rent kayaks.

Kayaker headed into the inlet near the picnic area.
I passed the dam and saw a group of people fishing.  The water here was low enough you could have walked across the dam, but I kept going and took the bridge into the picnic area of the state park.  I crossed the driveway and continued around the pond to the boat launch parking area.  There were a few more cars in the parking lot and some guys were launching a boat that I thought seemed to have a motor that was a little large and unwise for this pond.  It is pretty obvious that there are rocks all over the place, so I assume they knew what they were doing.

This was a relatively short, but very nice hike.  If you go, be prepared for some muddy areas even if it hasn't rained for awhile.  I also recommend kayaking at Burr Pond.  It is pretty quiet and, other than the state park, there is no development.  It is especially pretty on those sunny autumn days where you can view the foliage from the water.