Posted By auntie on January 27, 2017
5.6 miles; Haddam, CT
So one day I was poking around on the CFPA’s interactive hiking map, and I found this one blue-blazed trail that could be completed in two sections of approximately 7.5 miles each, and there were loop trails, so it didn’t have to be an out-and-back. Psyched! Another blue-blazed trail to add to the CFPA’s Challenge Hikes I could knock off quickly and by myself.
I did section 1 today, which was much shorter than I anticipated. Which means I’ll need a lot more time to do section 2. Can’t wait… it’s a beautiful trail. Loved it!
I parked at the trailhead on Beaver Meadow Road. This was a dicey proposition, as it turned out, because people FLY down this windy little country road, and the parking area, big enough for maybe 2 cars, is on a blind curve. I HIGHLY recommend, if you do this trail from this end, parking at the nearby Park and Ride lot right at the Route 9 exit. It’s only a short walk from there to the trailhead. A short, hair-raising walk…
The Cockaponset State Forest is the 2nd largest state forest in Connecticut, the largest being the Pachaug. And like the Pachaug, it’s in pieces-parts. I’ve hiked other sections of the Cockaponset, but never this part in Haddam.
The trail starts out through dense thickets of mountain laurel (the Connecticut State Flower). There was a somewhat dicey stream crossing, which I managed without getting soaked by some miracle, and there are some nice ups-and-downs.
A fungus shot! In January, no less.
According to this account by a hiking blogger at Connecticut Museum Quest (don’t ask), the CCC developed the northern part of this trail in the 1930s, and put in extensive stone work that is still in use today, nearly a century later. This first section is lousy with stone staircases. I took pictures of the first 5 or 6, but then I figured I had enough shots.
This section is also filled with many, many cairns. I really don’t understand the impulse. Is it an art project? Just an ego thing, like tagging or carving your initials in trees? What? I am firmly in the anti-cairn camp, and may have “accidentally” knocked a couple over with my hiking stick. By accident. But for some reason this one amused me, so it remained standing.
You can find out more about the Cockaponset State Forest from the CT DEEP website, and more about the Cockaponset Trail from the CFPA’s website. And as always, click the above map for details and to download the gpx file.