Sunday, August 6, 2017

2017 Hike #26: Northwest Park - Windsor, CT

Date Hiked: Sunday, July 16, 2017
Estimated distance:  3.77 miles
Weather: 84°F, scattered clouds
Resources: Northwest Park, Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  butterflies, birds
Progress toward 2017 Outdoor Goals:  26/52 hikes; 86.62/250 miles hiked

Catching up on my blog posts.

I am working on a weekly photo challenge, and this week's challenge was "Path".  I decided to head over to Northwest Park because I knew they had some boardwalk-type paths over wet areas in the woods, plus trails in the fields that I thought might make nice photo opportunities.  I did take some photos, but I definitely need to work on my skills.

As you enter Northwest Park, there is a little pond on the left.  There are tons of fish and quite a few painted turtles there.  I took a few minutes to take a look.  When I left the park, there was a family tossing pieces of bread to the fish.  The kids were so excited to see all the fish coming up to get the bread.  Unfortunately, the turtles seemed interested, but weren't much of a match for the speedy fish.

Painted turtle

I started off taking the trails along the fields.  There were several butterflies.  While I would have said they were Monarchs, research makes me think they are really Viceroys.

Viceroy butterfly

I also saw some birds in the field.  While the coloring of the one below looks like a female Goldfinch, I don't think it is.  The beak doesn't look like a finch beak.  I am thinking some kind of warbler?  (Prairie or Blue-winged?)

There was also a male Goldfinch nearby, so maybe the previous one is the female.  I can't tell.

After leaving the fields, I was on the Jurassic trail for awhile and from there to the Woody Succession trail. 

One of the boardwalks on the Woody Succession Trail.

And back out to the fields...

When I got back to the area of the barn and nature center, I took a little side trip to the Butterfly Garden and the Sensory Saunter Trails.  The flowers were beautiful and I loved listening to the aspen leaves rustle in the wind.

While I usually come here to hike, there are lots of other things to see and do.   The kids can go into the barn and see the animals, go to the nature center, and play on the playscape.  Bring a picnic and have some fun!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2017 Hikes #24 & 25: WLT's Ehrich Woods and Hurlbut Field - Winchester, CT

Date Hiked: Sunday, July 9, 2017
Estimated distance:  5.23 miles (3.59 miles at WLT's Ehrich Woods & Ruez Trails, 1.64 miles at WLT's Hurlbut Field)
Weather: 78°F, scattered clouds
Resources: Winchester Land Trust, Ehrich Woods Trail Map, Ruez Trail Map, Hurlbut Field Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  wildflowers, Bobolinks, field of milkweed, butterflies
Progress toward 2017 Outdoor Goals:  25/52 hikes; 82.85/250 miles hiked

Two fantastic hikes today on Winchester Land Trust properties!  

Our first hike was at Ehrich Woods.  The map gives you a couple of options for parking, including at the town green (just pull to the side of the road - that's what the parishioners of the local church do on Sunday morning), but we chose to park at the small turn-out (room for about 3-4 cars) on Preston Road.  Regardless of where you park, you can make a loop, but it requires a road walk.  Instead, we did an out-and-back hike along the dirt road.

From the parking area, we headed east along Preston Road and turned south onto Old Waterbury Turnpike.  As you approach the marsh, Rugg Brook forms a little waterfall to your right.

Rugg Brook
Along the edge of the road, we saw a flower that I don't think I have seen before.  It had a very tall stalk with whorled leaves.  The first one we came across was more orange, but the others we saw looked a little more yellow.  They are Canada Lilies and are native to the area.

Canada Lily

You can see it grows quite tall.

Not 100 percent sure, but maybe Swamp Candles?
We continued on, past the sign for the Ruez Trail (huge, you can't miss it!), and down to another area along the road where we could see the marsh.  There were a few frogs and water lilies in the small area of open water.

We turned around and headed back to the Ruez Trail.  This is a lollipop shaped trail that heads off to the east.  The highlights here were finding a red eft and seeing the glacial erratic.

Hey, little buddy.

The glacier decided to drop this big boy right in the middle of the woods.  Okay, there were probably no woods then.

We returned to our car and headed down Grantville Road to the parking area we had passed earlier for Hurlbut Field.

There is a nice big sign at the entrance to the field, so you know you are in the right place.  There is also a kiosk with more information and trail maps available.

Park at the side of the road near the sign.

Follow the mown path through the field and go into the woods.  Before long you are on the shore of Winchester Lake.  But, don't be in too much of a hurry to get through the field.  The field was the highlight of our day.

So picturesque.  I wish I had more than the camera on my phone.  See the different colored ladder-back chairs on the side of the barn?
As we reached the top of the field, we saw some birds flying about and coming to rest on top of some of the taller plants in the meadow.  I had never seen this type of bird before, but I remember reading on the Land Trust's facebook page that there were Bobolinks nesting here.  Huh.  I always thought Bobolinks were like partridges.  No. No.  Those are Bobwhites!  The Bobolinks are song birds that, as it says on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website, look like they have their tuxedo on backward.  They are white on the back of their head and back and black on their wings and breasts.  That is what these were.  Sadly, they are just little black blurs in the pictures I took.

One of the other fantastic things about this meadow was all of the milkweed.  Just look at it all!  We saw several different kinds of butterflies.  We think we might have seen a Monarch or Painted lady, Swallowtail, and a Fritillary (not sure which type).

Glorious milkweed!

Cow Vetch

Fritillary on Milkweed
After spending a little extra time enjoying all the meadow had to offer, we entered the woods.  This trail took us along the eastern shore of the lake and over to the dam.  There were several people fishing from the grass-covered dam, a few people getting ready to put their float tubes in the water at the boat launch, and another few already out on the water in their canoes and kayaks.

Winchester Lake
We spent a few minutes enjoying the view of the lake and looking at the wildflowers along the dam before heading back to the car.  You can make this hike into a loop hike if you want to do a road walk, but we returned the way we had come.  That gave us another chance to see the meadow.

Winchester Land Trust doesn't have a ton of property, but what they do have is quite diverse.  I especially recommend a visit to the Hurlbut Field property.  It has been several days, but I am still excited thinking about all that property had to offer.

2017 Hike #23: McLean Game Refuge - Granby, CT

Date Hiked: Sunday, June 25, 2017
Estimated distance:  1.35 miles
Weather: 78°F, scattered clouds
Resources: McLean Game Refuge, Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  view of Spring Pond
Progress toward 2017 Outdoor Goals:  23/52 hikes; 77.62/250 miles hiked

Just a quick walk around the pond.

New signage.

Spring Pond

Friday, June 30, 2017

Connecticut Hiking Trails by Town - East Hartford

CT > Hartford County > East Hartford

Hockanum River Linear Park 

Hockanum River Watershed Association:  Overview of all trail segments with links to sections
About 3.5 miles of boardwalk and stone dust trail.

Other Information

East Hartford lists two other parks with hiking, but I can find no trail information for them:
Bray Property on Hills Street (70 acres)
Nature Park on Long Hill Street (50 acres)

Connecticut Hiking Trails by Town - East Granby

CT > Hartford County > East Granby

Metacomet Trail

Looking west to Manitook Mountain from Metacomet Ridge in East Granby.

The Metacomet Trail (part of the New England Trail) passes through East Granby and can be broken up into several sections.

CFPA Interactive Map
CT NET: Section 19 (Tariffville to Route 20)
CT NET: Section 20 (Route 20 to Phelps Road)
Along the New England Trail (11 Oct 2012) - Tariffville Gorge north to Hatchet Hill Road
Along the New England Trail (16 Oct 2012) - Hatchet Hill north to Route 20
Along the New England Trail (18 Oct 2012) - Route 20 north to Suffield line
Hartford Courant Article (19 Jan 2012) by Peter Marteka (Rte 20 north to Peak Mountain Overlook)
Granwood Explores (15 Oct 2016) (Phelps Road south to Rte 20)

Included in the following books:
Connecticut Walk Book (20th Edition) by Connecticut Forest & Park Association
Short Nature Walks in Connecticut (6th Edition) by Eugene Keyarts
50 Hikes in Connecticut (4th Edition) by David, Gerry, and Sue Hardy
Best Hikes with Children in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island by Cynthia C. Lewis and Thomas J. Lewis

Cowles Park

Farmington Valley Homeschoolers (19 May 2012) with hand-drawn map
Google Map of trails and how they connect to Metacomet
Hartford Courant Article (9 Jan 2015) by Peter Marteka

Other Information

East Granby Land Trust (map of all open space properties in town), no trail maps
EGLT Facebook
Newgate Wildlife Management Area - This area is owned by the state and does have a trail, though I am not sure how well it is maintained.  The only reference I can find that has a map is in the book Short Nature Walks in Connecticut by Eugene Keyarts.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Connecticut Hiking Trails by Town - Canton

CT > Hartford County > Canton

Roaring Brook Nature Center

Jim Brook at Roaring Brook Nature Center

Over 4 miles of diverse trails, plus a nice nature center with various classes and activities.  One of my family's favorites.

Roaring Brook Nature Center, Trail Map
CTMQ blog post (2013)
New England Waterfalls - Jim Brook Falls

Canton Conservation Land Trust

View of Nepaug Reservoir from Sweetheart Mountain

Canton Land Conservation Trust, Facebook
Trail Locations
Pocket Guide to all Trails
CTMQ blog post
New England Lost Ski Areas - Sweetheart Mountain
Farmington Valley Homeschool Hikers - Sweetheart Mountain (21 Sep 2012) 

Connecticut Hiking Trails by Town - Burlington

CT > Hartford County > Burlington

Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area

Beaver Marsh at Sessions Woods WMA

DEEP Sessions Woods WMA
Sessions Woods Trail Map
Friends of Sessions Woods
FOSW Trail Guide
CTMQ's blog post (multiple hikes)

Included in the following books:
Connecticut Walk Book (20th Edition) by Connecticut Forest & Park Association
AMC's Best Day Hikes in Connecticut by Rene Laubach & Charles W. G. Smith
New England Waterfalls by Greg Parsons & Kate B. Watson  (see website)

There are side trails that lead from Sessions Woods to the mainline Tunxis Trail.

Tunxis Trail

The Tunxis Trail is a nearly 40-mile long trail that stretches from Southington to the Massachusetts border.  It has numerous side trails that increase the number of miles that can be hiked.  Some of the more extensive side trails are in the Burlington area, including ones that head into Sessions Woods.

CFPA Trail Map for Burlington area
CFPA Interactive Trail Map

Included in the following book:
Connecticut Walk Book (20th Edition) by Connecticut Forest & Park Association

Burlington Land Trust

Overview of BLT Properties (detailed maps included in trail maps below)
Burlington Land Trust trail maps

Hartford Courant Article on Taine Mountain (21 Mar 2015) by Peter Marteka
CTMQ blog post on Taine Mountain (11 Jul 2015)
CTMQ blog post on Martha Brower Sanctuary (22 Nov 2015)

Other information

If you look on OpenStreetMap for Burlington, you can see the town seems to be covered with trails.  Most of the main ones have been included above.