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