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.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

2017 Hike #21: CLCT's Sun, Wind, adn Woodlands Property - Canton, CT

Date Hiked: Saturday, June 3, 2017
Estimated distance:  3.84 miles
Weather: 63°F, partly cloudy
Resources: Canton Land Conservation Trust, Sun, Wind, and Woodlands Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  ferns
Progress toward 2017 Outdoor Goals:  21/52 hikes; 73.67/250 miles hiked

For various reasons, my hiking partner and I did not participate in one of the scheduled hikes for CT Trails Weekend, but we did venture out on our own to Canton Land Conservation Trust's Sun, Wind, and Woodlands Preserve.  The trail was pretty well marked, but I will admit some confusion near some of the fields.  Not a big deal, though.  I  thought the ferns were especially pretty here.

Monday, June 12, 2017

2017 Hike #20: Holcomb Farm to Carpenter Falls - West Granby, CT

Date Hiked: Thursday, June 1, 2017
Estimated distance:  4.52 miles
Weather: 75°F, partly cloudy
Resources: Holcomb Farm, Holcomb Farm Trail Map, McLean Game Refuge Trail Map
Highlights of the trip:  waterfall, snake, millipede
Progress toward 2017 Outdoor Goals:  20/52 hikes; 69.83/250 miles hiked

I should have waited a day to take this hike.  I ended up picking a warm, rather humid day and if I had waited one more day it would have dried out and there would have been a bit of a breeze.  Oh, well.  It was still a good hike.

I parked at Holcomb Farm in West Granby, went across the CSA fields and over the West Branch of Salmon Brook.  I took the Holcomb Trails to the orange, Northwest Passage Trail which comes out on Broad Hill Road.  From there, I took the dirt road to Carpenter Falls.  On the way back down, I zig-zagged my way down the Holcomb Farm Trails.

Bridge over West Branch of Salmon Brook.

Yellow trail leading to stairs.
Before I got to the stairs, I happened to see a couple of folding chairs in the woods.  I decided to walk over and take a look and see if there was some reason there were chairs sitting out here.  I have seen some crazy stuff in the woods, so you never know.  The craziest was a gorilla suit dressed up with blaze orange hunting vest and hat that my kids thought might be a dead body.  (What the heck?  I saw reference to it later in a geocaching post).  Nothing that strange this time, just chairs.  But, then I turned around...

Ugh.  I sure hope I wasn't caught on camera!  I may find out, because when I was hiking with my friend a few days later she said her son was one of the kids charged with taking care of the cameras at Holcomb Farm.  MH, please delete my picture!

Top of Carpenter Falls with plaque on rock.

Below the falls.

Falls are part of Beach Brook.

I hadn't initially noticed this jumble of boulders.

Looking downstream from the falls.

Common garter snake did not move when I got close.


Beach Brook near southern end of Holcomb trails before joining Salmon Brook.

Heading back across fields of Holcomb Farm CSA.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

2017 Connecticut Walk Book - Preliminary Review

I noticed that the Connecticut Forest & Park Association had published a new edition of their indispensable CT Walk BookI own a copy of the previous edition of the Walk Book for the western part of CT, but was interested in a book that would cover the entire state.  After purchasing the new edition, I think it was worth the money, but I also think it is best used in combination with the previous edition.

Old and new editions.

There are definitely pros and cons to the new edition. First, the book is aesthetically pleasing (silly, but it makes me happy). The new edition has color maps that show side trails in the correct blaze colors. I am also happy that all the trails and maps are contained in one book AND the contour interval is noted on the map! This was one of my largest pet peeves of the previous edition. However, I do wish more elevations were shown, not just the elevation of select peaks. There are maps with absolutely no indication of elevation, though you can at least figure out elevation change based upon contour intervals.

McLean Game Refuge map with color coded trails.  Contour interval in the middle of the bar on the right.

The previous editions of this book were made of loose leaf pages with maps that folded out. The new book is a regular bound book and, though the description on the back of the book says it has a “lay-flat design”, it really doesn’t. Making copies of the maps to take with you will not be as easy and some details may be lost in the gutter (where two pages meet). In the very front of the book, there is a fold-out map of the entire state which identifies where each trail is located.

In order to put all the blue-blazed trails in one book (instead of two books, as in previous editions which had East and West books), something had to give. One thing that was given up, and I am not sure it is that big a deal, is that some of the maps in the previous edition have been combined. For example, in the new edition the northern end of the Tunxis Trail, from Pine Mountain to the Massachusetts state line, is one map. In the previous edition it was spread over two maps.

Previous edition.  Northern part of Tunxis Trail from Walnut Hill Road to Massachusetts border.

New edition.  Northern Tunxis trail from Pine Mountain to Massachusetts border.

The more significant omission is the elimination of detailed trail descriptions. For example, the new edition has one paragraph devoted to the northern end of the Tunxis Trail from the Indian Council Caves north. In the old edition, the description for that section of trail spans more than two pages. This is where I think using the previous edition in combination with the new edition would be useful.

Previous edition.  Part of the detailed trail description that covers the final 12.6 miles of the Tunxis Trail.

New edition.  Trail overview covers the entire Tunxis trail.

Another change, which I haven't decided whether I like or not, is the centralizing of the mileage tables.  In the last edition, the mileage table was listed as part of the corresponding trail section description.  For example, each section of the Tunxis Trail had its own description and mileage table.  In the new edition, there is one mileage table for the entire trail.  So, one table for the entire Tunxis Trail and you have to find the section within that list that you plan on hiking.  That may be fine, I haven't decided.  It made sense to set it up that way since there are no section-by-section descriptions anymore.

Old edition.  Description and mileage table for the Penwood section of the Metacomet Trail.

Mileage table for the whole of the Metacomet Trail.  Penwood starts at mile 43.8.

Another minor complaint I have is that I wish the separate maps for a given trail were put in order from north to south, rather than south to north. If arranged north to south, the trail would flow as you turned from one page to the next. This was also a complaint I had with the previous edition and is not a change that was made for the new edition.

Overall, I like the look of the new book and I think that it is better suited for flipping through and locating hikes and trails. I also think the maps are nicer, though there is still room for improvement. If I did not have the previous edition for comparison, I think I would rate it five stars. But, knowing what is missing (detailed trail descriptions), I can only give it four.  (A version of this review was posted on Amazon.)