Estimated distance: 5.3 miles
Weather: 55°F, sunny, breezy, started clouding up
Resources: CFPA Interactive Map, Burlington Land Trust, CTMQ
Highlights of the trip: scarlet tanagers!, marsh area, pine plantation
Progress toward 2016 hiking goals: 29/52 hikes; 109.03/250 miles; 28.5/25 miles on Tunxis Trail
My goal of hiking 25 miles on the Tunxis Trail has been completed! I still plan on doing some more, and I am happy this goal got me out to areas I hadn't been to before.
This section of the trail was a little bit of a surprise for me. I think after my disappointment with the last section of the trail, I was expecting more of the same. We found this section of the trail to be surprisingly pleasant. No real wow factor, but nice.
|In this case, hiking north to south required more uphill hiking.|
In The Walk Book, the trail appeared to end at Hotchkiss Road in Burlington and the next section picked up at the State Fish Hatchery on Route 4. This gap has now been closed and we were able to hike all the way down to Route 4 in Burlington. The trail south of Route 4 has been re-routed and we'll hit that section next time. The fish hatchery is not part of the mainline trail anymore.
We parked one car at Joni's Antiques. I'm not really sure this was where we were supposed to park. The CFPA Interactive map indicates a parking lot large enough for 6 cars, but I have no idea where this is supposed to be. I just hoped that with it being a Sunday and Joni's having a large parking lot we'd be okay. We drove back through Collinsville, turned west on 202 and parked in the Nepaug State Forest parking lot.
From Nepaug, we had to walk on the shoulder of 202 for a little bit and then climb over a guard rail to follow the trail. I think that later in the year, this section, unless it is kept mowed will be hard to navigate. The trail was not easy to pick out and there were prickers and other weeds. As we neared the trees away from the shoulder, there was quite a bit of poison ivy. It is still pretty low to the ground right now, but I wouldn't want to walk through it later. An alternative, if you are not a trail purist, would be to skip this little section and just keep walking on 202 until you get to Southeast Road. The trail just cuts the corner.
The trail comes out on to Southeast Road. We headed south and after a little way turned left into the woods. There was a lot of signage here letting you know it was the trail and also telling you to stay on the trail. There was also something about hunting, but it looked like it was left over from last fall. Most of the hike was along MDC service roads, but much easier to traverse than the ones through Nepaug.
On Douglas Road (the MDC roads are named), we came across a section that had been cleared and contained a field of yellow plastic tubes. A sign explained that this was a research project for Chestnut trees. The American Chestnut, once a major source of timber, suffered a blight in the early part of the 20th century. Experiments in cross-breeding American Chestnuts and Chinese and Japanese Chestnuts, which are resistant to the blight, have been going on for a number of years. This area is one of the experimentation stations. The yellow tubes protect the saplings from browsing by deer and other animals. Speaking of deer, we saw one on the trail out here today! Couldn't get the camera out before it bounded away.
|Chestnut experimentation station.|
|Vein of quartz.|
Another pretty area along the trail was the marsh. I think this must be Phelps Brook. We saw a small beaver dam here.
We reached a point in the trail where we could see people jogging along Hotchkiss Road. If we stuck to the original trail, we would have quickly been at the parking area shown in the Walk Book. The new trail headed to the right which brought us down to the corner where Hotchkiss meets Covey Road. Walking south on Covey Road, we turned right and followed the blazes into the woods. We had left the service roads behind and were on a trail. In here, we came to a pine plantation. It was pretty cool to walk down a tunnel of pine trees.
|In the pine plantation.|