Friday, April 24, 2015

April 2015: Granby - McLean Game Refuge

I don't know what happened in 2014, but I have got to get out on the trail more in 2015.

I have done several hikes in the McLean Game Refuge over the past few weeks.  On one hike, I entered the refuge from Canton Road, went down the hill and turned north on the woods road that heads toward Trout Pond.  I took a left on the North Trail (purple) and followed it to Kettle Pond.  I always look forward to Kettle Pond, especially in early spring, because of the practically deafening chorus of wood frogs.  They did not disappoint me today. 

After leaving Kettle Pond, still on the North Trail, I headed up to and around the field.  There is a trail that goes through the field,  but I tend to avoid it.  All I can think of are ticks!  However, this time of year, before the grasses and wildflowers start really growing, is probably the best time of year to cross it.  I went around the field in the woods, past the rusted old tractor carcass.  I love this area.  The path is fairly level with few rocks or roots and white pines tower over you.  It is just very peaceful place.  I was hoping I was going to spot a snake basking in the sun on the trail, but no luck.  I have seen them in this area more than once. 

Two large trees mark the gateway to the trail that heads down to Spring Pond.  I always marvel at the way the water looks as I descend on that trail, but I can never capture it in a picture.  From Spring Pond, I crossed the bridge and headed back up the hill to Canton Road.

Spring Pond Cabin
The following week, I entered the refuge from the main entrance on Barndoor Hills Road in the area known as the Picnic Grove.  I followed the woods road to Trout Pond.

Cabin at Trout Pond

The door handle reminds me of the one on the basement screen door at my grandparents' house.

Passing Trout pond, I turned left on the Loop Trail.  Here, there are three trails (Red, Orange, and Blue) that start off together and loop around again to the woods road that I had come in on.  These trails run along the edge of Salmon Brook Park.  There is a trail that branches off to the right that will lead you to a bridge that will take you into the park.  The Red Loop Trail is the shortest (1.25 miles) and has nice trail markers that talk about different trees or wildlife you might find in the area.  The Orange Loop (1.9 miles) will branch off next and you might miss it if you are not paying attention.  I continued on the Blue Loop (2.07 miles) to the woods road and headed back to the Picnic Grove.

A high point on the loop trail gives views to the two Barndoor Hills when there are no leaves on the trees.

The next day, I again went for a hike in the game refuge.  I followed the same path I had taken the previous week - entering from Canton Road and walking on the woods road toward Trout Pond, then turning on to the North Trail before heading to Kettle Pond and the field above Spring Pond.  This time, instead of heading down to the pond, I kept going on the North Trail until it intersected with a woods road near the corner of Simsbury Road and Barndoor Hills Road.  I took the woods road until I turned left on the Spring Pond Trail.  I saw a few turtles sunning themselves on logs in the water.  After passing the cabin, I saw a couple standing looking at something in the water.  They had spotted a snake sunning itself on one of the grass mounds near the edge of the pond.  Yay!  I got my snake.  I believe it is a Northern Water Snake.

Northern Water Snake in Spring Pond.

I certainly haven't hiked all the trails in the refuge, but I think it is time to try something different.