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.

Connecticut Hiking Trails by Town - Bristol

CT > Hartford County > Bristol

Harry C. Barnes Memorial Nature Center

Barnes Hiking Trail Map
Harry C. Barnes Memorial Nature Center, Facebook
CTMQ blog post on Barnes Nature Center (22 Nov 2015)

Hoppers-Birge Pond Nature Preserve

City of Bristol information on Hoppers-Birge
David Reik's blog post (11 Jan 2017)
David Reik's blog post (13 Jan 2017)  (has map of area)
Hartford Courant Article (26 Mar 2010)  by Peter Marteka

Compounce Ridge Trail

Compounce Ridge Trail (4.5 miles) is one of the side trails of the blue-blazed Tunxis Trail.  Part of the trail runs through Bristol.  As of this writing, I believe a section of the trail is closed, so check the CFPA website for trail notice updates.

CFPA Interactive Trail Map
David Reik's blog post (26 Apr 2017)
CTMQ blog post (22 Mar 2008)
Hartford Courant Article (15 Oct 2010) by Peter Marteka

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

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Connecticut Hiking Trails by Town - Bloomfield

CT > Hartford County > Bloomfield

Penwood State Park

Looking from Penwood south along Metacomet to the Heublein Tower on Talcott Mountain.
The Metacomet Trail runs through the center of Penwood State Park.  There are at least 4 miles of trails here to explore.

DEEP Penwood State Park, Trail Map
The A to Z of Connecticut State Parks blog post (29 Nov 2015)
Along the New England Trail blog post (25 Sep 2012)

Included in the following books:
50 Hikes in Connecticut (4th Edition) by David, Gerry, and Sue Hardy
Connecticut Walk Book (20th Edition) by Connecticut Forest and Park Association

Metacomet Trail

CFPA Interactive Trail Map
CT NET: Section 18

Marion K. Wilcox Park

This park in the northern part of Bloomfield connects to the Metacomet Trail.  There are over 5 miles of trails.

Marion K. Wilcox Trail Map
This Outdoor Life blog post (5 Dec 2009)
Hartford Courant Article (7 Feb 2013) by Peter Marteka
Along the New England Trail blog post (1 Oct 2012)

Farmington River Park

I believe this park is owned by the town of Bloomfield.  As the name suggests, it borders the Farmington River and is between Tarrifville Gorge and Rainbow Reservoir.  I have not been able to find any trail maps, but suggest looking at the OpenStreetMap listed below.

Farmington Valley Homeschool Hikers blog post (29 Mar 2013)
David Reik blog post (14 Jun 2017)
OpenStreetMap with information provided by David Reik

Seabury Wildwoods Trails

Seabury is an Active Life Care Community.

Trail Map

Auerfarm State Park Scenic Reserve

CT Woodlands description
CTMQ blog post (5 Jan 2016)
Hartford Courant Article (14 May 2016) by Peter Marteka

Other Information

Map of protected open space in Bloomfield
Wintonbury Land Trust
Wintonbury Land Trust Facebook
Map of Wintonbury Land Trust Properties

There are a couple of properties that I think may have some trails and may connect to each other, but I can't find any maps online.  They are the Wintonbury Land Trust's Sinnott Farm property and the town's LaSallette Park property.  I believe hikes on these properties have been offered on Trail Days in June.

Connecticut Hiking Trails by Town - Berlin

CT > Hartford County > Berlin

Mattabassett/Mattabesett Trail (2.5 miles in Berlin - one way)

Town of Berlin- trail section description
CFPA Interactive Map
New England Trail: Section 13

Metacomet Trail (8.8 mile section in Berlin - one way)

Town of Berlin - trail section descriptions
CFPA Interactive Map
New England Trail: Section 14
New England Trail: Section 15
CTMQ blog post (28 May 2007) - Metacomet Trail: Section 4

Ragged Mountain Preserve (>5 miles with options for varying lengths)

CFPA Interactive Trail Map - The blue-blazed Metacomet Trail runs through Ragged Mountain Preserve
CFPA Ragged Mountain Preserve Trail Map
Town of Berlin Ragged Mountain Park Trail Map
The Outbound Collective - Hike the Ragged Mountain Memorial Preserve
CTMQ blog post (multiple hikes)
Hartford Courant Article (27 Nov 2009) by Peter Marteka
New England Waterfalls - Ragged Mountain Cascade

Included in the following book:
50 Hikes in Connecticut (4th Edition) by David, Gerry, and Sue Hardy

Town of Berlin Trails

Listing of all Trail Maps
Timberlin Park (Amelia Green Trail = 1.38 miles, connects to Metacomet)
Pistol Creek Area (2.12 miles)
Hatchery Brook Conservation Area (around 5 miles of connected loop trails)
Bicentennial Park (about 1.7 miles of loop trails, connects to Metacomet)
Beckley Quarry Conservation Area (0.92 miles one way)

Berlin Land Trust
Berlin Land Trust Facebook

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Connecticut Hiking Trails by Town - Avon

CT > Hartford County > Avon

Horse Guard State Park

View of Rattlesnake Mountain (with antennas) in Farmington and Hanging Hills in Meriden.

Out and back hike of just over a mile gives tremendous views to the south and west.  With work on the trails, it looks like a loop trail could be made (see OpenStreetMap).  Parking at Avon Historical Society's Derrin House.

DEEP Horse Guard State Park
David Reik's Blog (he provided detail to OpenStreetMap)
Hartford Cournat Article (15 Oct 2016) by Peter Marteka
The A to Z of CT State Parks

Avon Land Trust

The Avon Land Trust has several properties.  The properties with trails seem to be in the eastern part of the town.

The following properties are all shown on the ALT Metacomet Ridge Trail map and could be combined to form a longer hike.
Garvin-Maher Loop Trail  (3.4 miles, can be made shorter)
Skyline Trail  (0.8 miles one way)
Hazen Park to Tower Trail (0.8 miles one way)
     CTMQ blog post on Hazen Park & Skyline Trails (9 Jan 2011)
     Along the New England Trail blog post on Skyline Trail and ALT Trails (21 Sep 2012)
     Hartford Courant Article (16 Oct 2009) by Peter Marteka

Oakes Preserve  (0.4 mile loop around a small lake)

Town of Avon Open Space

Alsop Meadows (<1 mile)  This area is where outfitters launch canoes/kayaks for the Farmington River)
     CTMQ blog post on Alsop Meadows (1 May 2016)

Countryside Park (< 0.5miles) Could be combined with trails across the road at Huckleberry Hill Recreation Area (see below).

Fisher Farm  (4 miles - could be more or less depending on how the trail is approached)   Parking may be on Tillotson Road.
     CTMQ Blog post on Fisher Farm (1 Jul 2010)
     Hartford Courant Article (3 Jul 2009) by Peter Marteka

Fisher Meadows (>5 miles - Connecting trails allow for making it longer or shorter)  Can be combined with Fisher Farm trails.
     CTMQ blog post on Fisher Meadow (May 2016)

Found Land (>2 miles)  Many criss-crossing trails not shown on trail map.
    CTMQ blog post on Found Land (29 May 2016)

Hazen Park  (a different map from the one shown on the ALT site)

Huckelberry Hill (<4 miles of connecting trails) Combine with Countryside Park for slightly longer hike.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

2017 Hike #22: Horse Guard State Park and Found Land Recreation Area - Avon, CT

Date Hiked: Thursday, June 22, 2017
Estimated distance:  2.60 miles (1.11 miles Horse Guard SP, 1.49 Found Land)
Weather: 80°F, scattered clouds
Resources: Horse Guard State Park, OpenStreetMap, Found Land Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  the view at Horse Guard SP
Progress toward 2017 Outdoor Goals:  22/52 hikes; 76.27/250 miles hiked

Last fall I read an article in the Hartford Courant by Peter Marteka about Horse Guard State Park in Avon, one of the "Other" state parks.  "Other" parks are the ones that, when you visit the DEEP website, are included in a long list of parks and forests with little information and no trail maps.  I think these parks tend to be ignored because of the lack of information.  Do not ignore this one.  For relatively little effort, the payoff is very good.

I parked at the Avon Historical Society's Derrin House, a little over a mile south of Route 44 on Route 167.  There is a trail sign at the edge of the lawn, and I took that as the location of the trail head.  Was it?  Maybe I missed another access point, because I was soon pushing through bushes and kicking myself for not having sprayed more than just my pant-legs with bug spray.

It looks like their might have been a loop trail, but David Reik's information on OpenStreetMap indicates much of it is a bushwhack.

I soon spotted the white blazes and was on my way.  Well, not for very long.  I passed a large tree trunk across the trail because I could see white blazes beyond it.  Right after the tree, the blazes indicated a right turn over a jumble of logs that I thought was there because the ground was wet.  I made my way across, but the trail didn't seem very well maintained.  Hmm.  Went back, found some white blazes that went to the left, but again the trail seemed very poorly maintained.  Let's start again.  I went back to the other side of the downed tree and easily spotted the trail leading off to the right.  I had not seen any blazes indicating a turn before the tree, but maybe I missed them.

I did not see a nest.  Not sure of the type of bird.
I continued to follow the trail through the forest and back and forth across areas with improvised log "bridges" put down to help navigate wet areas.  The hiking poles were definitely helpful in keeping my balance over the logs.  I came to a more open area and, off to my right, I could make out a talus slope through the trees.  I knew this is the area I wanted to climb to get the view.

Talus slope through the trees.

Hemlock Varnish Shelf

Talus slope.
There are no blazes up the talus slope, so you just have to pick your way.  I wound my way up to the top and kept following the trail until I came to an area that had a fire pit.  I went a little beyond that and out to a rock ledge with nearly 180 degree views to the west.  The panoramic shot spans that distance and includes Taine Mountain (southwest) to the left and Mount Horr (north-northwest) to the right.

There were quite a few wildflowers at the summit including Pink Corydalis, Spreading Dogbane, Blueberry, Rose (Virginia or Carolina, not sure which), and Venus's Looking Glass.

I thought this was in the Heath family, like blueberry, but nothing seems to match.  Could it be Spreading dogbane?



Venus's Looking Glass.
I headed back and took in the view to the south.  This was the money shot as far as I was concerned.  The mountain with the radio towers is Rattlesnake Mountain, and to the right is West Peak, part of the Hanging Hills of Meriden.  Pretty spectacular.

When I got down near the parking area, I decided to take a shot of the "trail".  You can make out the red-sided Derrin house through  the foliage and that is basically where I had to cut through to get to my car.

The hike in Horse Guard State Park was only a little over a mile, so I had scouted ahead for another short hike to do while I was in Avon.  The town has some open space with trails, so I decided to give Found Land Recreation Area a try.  I parked in the cul-de-sac at the end of Saint Michael's Court where the sign is located.  There is a kiosk as you first enter, but there didn't appear to be a map on it.

I went in a clock-wise direction following the yellow blazes.  Then I came to a spot with a trail that went off to the left and there was a red blaze on a tree to my right.  Hmm.  I decided to go to the left a little way, just to see and noticed more red blazes and what looked to be boundary marker posts.  I got to the top of a small rise and saw another cul-de-sac.  I crossed the road and had a magnificent view of the Heublein Tower over on the Metacomet Ridge.

Heublein Tower on Metacomet Ridge in the distance.
I turned back around and went back to the trail intersection.  A red trail (not on the map) seemed to go off to my left.  I decided to go straight as I came back down from the road and saw the yellow blazes again.  I turned again and came to the remains of a stone wall.  Now I saw yellow blazes on my right and red ones on my left.  I decided these red blazes were marking the property rather than indicating a trail.  I came to other trail crossings and became more confused.  I knew there was a cutoff trail, and I purposely went by a trail (that I think was blazed yellow) because I thought that was the cutoff.  I reached a turn in the trail and assumed I had come to the place where the yellow trail starts heading back.  Now I am not so sure, because the outer loop was supposed to be over two miles and I ended up only covering about 1.5 miles.  Humph.  In the end, I didn't care.  It was hot and buggy, and while this is probably an okay place for walking your dog if you live in one of the really fancy houses in the neighborhood, it didn't have much to recommend it for other hikers.  Still, I am glad I checked it out.

I have no idea how this old Jeep made it down the trail and on to its roof.

So, check out Horse Guard State Park, but if you are looking for more mileage to add to that, Found Land is a bit of a let down.