Posted By auntie on September 14, 2014
8.6 miles, 2.3 mph; voluntown, ct
you may have noticed that my posting has not been as frequent as in the past. that’s because i am now working during the week, and can’t normally get out to hike. because of that, i’ve tried to do more mileage during the weekends. this hike was perhaps a bit of overkill, but i made it fine, probably because i’ve switched to a standing desk at work, so my legs are getting stronger even when i’m not hiking.
i also looked back on my previous hell hollow posts and noticed that i’ve rather evolved as a blogger and a hiker, and thought this part of the pachaug required a revisit.
this hike started from a parking area in the evocatively-named hell hollow part of the pachaug. it’s next to hell hollow pond, on hell hollow road. i picked up the blue-blazed pachaug trail from here and headed north, to the intersection with the yellow-blazed pachaug-quinebaug crossover trail, which i followed to its intersection with flat rock road.
someone made a little pile of rusted old bits of farm implements along here, attesting to the pachaug’s history as farmland.
i decided to make a further loop north from flat rock road to visit a pond i’ve never seen, called locke’s meadow pond. don’t know why i bothered, as because of the thick vegetation, there were virtually no views of the pond from the trail despite the fact that the trail hugged the shore. at the north edge of the pond, the trail became so confused with all the crossing and intersecting atv and dirt bike trails that instead of looping around on a footpath that was on the great swamp press map, i retraced my steps for a spell, until i was able to find the unblazed path i was looking for. it’s a mountain bike trail, and once i found it, it was fairly easy to follow… just keep an eye out for the chain marks on the rocks in the trail. it eventually intersected back with flat rock road, and fortunately i didn’t miss the best part.
the flat rock of the name—a very long stretch of this old road follows a big old granite outcropping.
there’s even an overlook of sorts, which is much better when there are no leaves on the trees.
the blue-blazed quinebaug trail follows flat rock road for a stretch until it makes a turn south. most of this 1-1/4 mile stretch of the quinebaug north of hell hollow road is rocky and eroded, which makes for some very hard hiking. as a reminder, the trails of the pachaug state forest are multi-use, which means mountain bikes, horses, dirt bikes, and atvs are all allowed on all the trails in the forest. the motorized vehicles in particular wreak havoc with the trail surfaces. in fact, i saw all but atv traffic on my hike (one of the horses i saw was wearing little booties over his hooves).
the quinebaug gets much nicer once it crosses hell hollow road and heads towards phillips pond. it closely parallels the forest road “trail 1.”
there is a very pretty little picnic area at phillips pond, and in fact this would make a nice alternate parking spot for this hike. not to mention that you would be much less tempted to cut the hike short and head back to your car via hell hollow road itself. this was, indeed, a powerful temptation. but i persevered.
from phillips pond, you can take the red/blue-blazed north fork of the phillips pond trail to intersect with the blue-blazed pachaug trail, or you can take the white-blazed south fork of the phillips pond trail, which also intersects the pachaug, but further south. i chose the northern fork.
after four hours, i finally got back to my car at hell hollow pond. honestly, this was a really fun hike, and i’d highly recommend it as long as you can take the mileage. there’s lots to see and many different trail environments to enjoy.
i have added this hike to the hikefinder, and linked to my own map.