Estimated distance round-trip: 6.01 miles
Weather: 34°F, sunny
Resources: Northwest Park, Trail Map
Highlights of the trip: bald eagle, ice sounds
Progress toward 2016 hiking goals: 9/52 hikes; 29.35/250 miles
As much as I love McLean Game Refuge, it was time for a change. I decided on Northwest Park in Windsor. It's relatively close by and not too difficult. I was pleasantly surprised that I could get in six miles of hiking there!
On my way to the park, I saw a sign at the rotary on Prospect Hill Road indicating some kind of event at the park today. I couldn't find anything about it on their website, but there is a Northwest Park Meetup and that indicates that it is the annual Cabin Fever (Winter Festival). There was supposed to be a bunch of snow activities like snowball throwing and miniature snowman making, plus skis and snowshoes to rent. The festival still took place (I could see the bonfire going as I was leaving), but the snow activities will have to wait for another day.
|Ski rentals to the left, nature museum straight ahead.|
|Woodpecker sculpture outside museum. See the chicks in the tree cavity?|
|Beaver pond. Lodge is in the middle of the picture in front of the tall pines.|
|Signs of beaver activity.|
|Looking north up the reservoir from an old abutment.|
|Beaver pond again.|
Backtracking, I picked up the Wetland Forest (yellow) trail north along the edge of the reservoir until it joined the Rainbow Reservoir (pink) trail. A bald eagle flew in the opposite direction along the edge of the reservoir
|Along the Wetland Forest Trail.|
|Fungi can be very beautiful.|
The Rainbow Reservoir Trail heads in away from the water along a ravine until it connects with the Triassic (black) trail. I didn't give the name of the trail much thought, but it turns out that there is a large fossil footprint of a dinosaur, specifically Eubrontes (a Jurassic dinosaur), on display along the trail. This fossil was given to the park by Dinosaur State Park in Rocky Hill, however an article I read indicates that there were Triassic era fossil footprints found in along the reservoir in 1936 and identified in 1981 as Coelophysis.
|Eubrontes fossil footprint.|
The black trail leads back out toward the reservoir and I took a little side trail down to see the dam. There is chain link along here with no trespassing signs, so you can't get too close.
|Rainbow Reservoir Dam|
I turned again and made my way down a path that led to the Open Forest (green) trail. This trail backs to some homes, so I was happy to leave it. I continued back toward the museum building, but then took Brookside (purple) Trail into the woods. This trail has markers for plant identification, but spring may be the best time to see many of them.
I ended my hike by stopping by the animal barn. There were sheep, goats, ducks, turkeys and a donkey.
People had started to arrive for the Winter Festival. I did not walk over to see what was going on, but the bonfire had already been lit.
|Bonfire for Winter Carnival.|
Finally! A hike of over 5 miles! When I set my hiking goals, I chose 52 hikes because a hike a week seemed reasonable. I know there will be weeks I won't be able to hike, so when I can I need to do more than one a week. I also set a goal of 250 miles which means I need to hike at least 5 miles on each of those hikes. So far, my hikes have all been under 5 miles, but I am also averaging more than a hike per week. Let's see if I can keep the momentum going.