The Walking Posts

The posts labeled with the little “Truckin’ ” man are from my Walking Journal, which I've been keeping since January 1, 2012. What began as a simple New Year's Resolution to exercise more quickly morphed into a hiking addiction. Below are some running totals.

  MILES TIME CALORIES
February 2017 5.06 1h 39m 458
Year-to-Date 37.01 18h 42m 3323
Feb. Avg. 24.54 10h 39m 2707

Cockaponset Trail Section 1

Posted By on January 27, 2017

Cockaponset Trail Section 1

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!

Trailhead

Trailhead

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 Trail

The Trail

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.

Old Puffballs

Old Puffballs

A fungus shot! In January, no less.

Steps

Steps

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.

Cairns

Cairns

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.

Track (click for details)

Track (click for details)

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.

Blackstone River Byway

Posted By on January 26, 2017

Blackstone River Byway

4.4 miles; Lincoln and Cumberland, RI

This hike has been on my radar for a while; a trail on the opposite bank of the Blackstone from the bike path. It was only meh. Partly built on an old landfill, the trails on this side are the provinance of dirt bikers and atvs, not hikers. Still, it was good to get one of my persistent itches scratched.

Dam

Albion Dam

Starting from the Bikeway parking area on School Street in Lincoln, I crossed the Albion Road bridge, taking this photo of the beautiful Albion Dam and the rushing river along the way. Immediately across the bridge, you come to an open forest gate, and that’s where I went in.

Nice View

Nice View

As I mentioned above, this hike doesn’t really have a lot to recommend it. A few pretty views of the river, maybe, although there are a lot of criss-crossing tracks through here, all made by motorized vehicles of some sort, dirt bikes or atvs. Maybe I just didn’t find the best ones.

Bike Path

Bike Path

The dirt tracks ultimately come out on a road, which connects to the Manville Hill Road bridge back over the river. A short stroll down New River Road takes you to the Bike Path.

Close-up of the Dam

Close-up of Albion Dam

And here is a close-up of the dam from the first photo. The river was really roaring along, and it was rather breathtaking to be so close.

Track (click for details)

Track (click for details)

There really isn’t anything “official” to be found online about this trail, although there are plenty of unofficial accounts. Just google “Blackstone River Byway,” and you’ll see what I mean.

It Was Not to Be

Posted By on January 25, 2017

It Was Not to Be

3 miles; North Stonington, CT

A friend and I tried 3 times to get to the Narragansett Trail area that had the Native American stonework on it (see this post from June of 2014), and were frustrated 3 times, twice by the extremely swollen Yawbux Brook, and once by the poor blazing and trail-making of the Stewart Hill Preserve. Maybe next time…

Yawbux Brook

Yawbux Brook

This is a photo of Plan B. For our first try we followed the Narragansett Trail from Wyassup Lake Road, only to find the brook was so wide it looked like another attempt by beavers to make a new pond. This is normally a very easy stepping-stone type stream crossing. We’ve had some rain here in the last few days, but this seemed excessive, even for recent rains. So we backtracked and went further down Wyassup Lake Road to the old woods road that crosses the Narragansett Trail, only to be confronted by a real washout. This was way too deep to ford, and it was moving pretty fast.

Then I remembered we weren’t far at all from the Stewart Hill Preserve, where, supposedly, there is a connector to the Narragansett Trail. This turned out badly as well, since the trails were very muddy and slippery, and I still couldn’t easily find the connector trail. We gave up.

There's a Light...

There’s a Light…

Along the way, though, we saw this pink lantern hanging in a tree, and also in a tree…

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

A magnificent Pileated Woodpecker drilling a characteristically rectangular hole. He let me get pretty close before taking off, too.

Here is a map of our tracks, but I didn’t bother to put in a link. There’s really nothing to see here.

Tracks (no link)

Tracks (no link)

Paucamack Hill

Posted By on January 21, 2017

Paucamack Hill

5.44 miles; Exeter, RI

After the last very short hike, I really needed some mileage. I was also both a little tired of driving a long distance to hike, and of all of my local hikes. What to do?

Long careful study of the Great Swamp Press map of Arcadia revealed, amazingly, a big swath of this wildlife management area I was not familiar with, the Paucamack Hill area, which is the part of Arcadia south of the eastern end of Beach Pond, between routes 138 and 165.

I plotted a long hike with some unblazed trails that I’d never tried before, starting from the Roscoe Dexter parking area only to realize, belatedly, the drawback to hiking on unblazed trails. More often than not, there are no bridges. This proved to be problematic when I slipped off a rock mid-stream and got, well, pretty wet and a little banged up. Otherwise, fun hike.

View from Deep Pond Trail

View from Deep Pond Trail

I haven’t been on the Deep Pond Trail in ages, and I realized I kind of missed it. There are a lot of distant views out over the rolling hills, at least in the wintertime.

White Dot Trail

White Dot Trail

As much as I love the Great Swamp Press maps, I have found that in this particular part of Arcadia, there are a few trails that aren’t exactly accurately depicted. For example… white dot trail? Not on my map. But I did, again, have the Open Hiking Map on my phone, and I was able to find my way using this when the GSP map failed me.

Old Breached Dam

Old Breached Dam

Once I got soaked crossing what I think was Brushy Brook, I decided to cut my hike short and head back on the west branch of the Deep Pond Trail, but along the way to that trail I came across the remains of a dam which had obviously been breached, who knows how long ago. It was impressively large, and I kind of wondered if there was a large mill foundation in the area anywhere… maybe another trip would be warranted?

Blue Trail

Blue Trail

I’ve been hiking through the area immediately south of Beach Pond a few times before on both the Tippecansett Trail and the Deep Pond Trail, and I’ve noticed this blue-blazed trail and always wondered about it. Well, now I know. It heads east towards Deep Pond, and eventually hooks up with the white-blazed Deep Pond Trail. Not that you could tell that from any map I could find…

My Track (click for details and to download)

My Track (click for details and to download)

I also can’t find anything online that would enlighten anyone about Paucamack Hill, except that the word Paucamack, or Paucamuck, means something like “open or clear pond, or shallow pond” in some Native American language, probably Narragansett. The only map I can find of the trails in this area, not counting the Open Hiking Map (note, the one accessible online is nothing like the one I get on my iPhone app) is the old-fashioned paper map of the area published by the Great Swamp Press, and as I said, it’s not completely accurate. To be fair, its publication date is 2003, so, there’s that.

Shenipsit Trail & Dark Hollow Brook

Posted By on January 19, 2017

Shenipsit Trail & Dark Hollow Brook

1.89 miles; South Glastonbury, CT

This was another Peter Marteka-inspired hike (see this article in the Hartford Courant) in Glastonbury. And I’m ashamed to say I didn’t have the ovaries to go through the Dark Hollow Brook culverts under Route 2, so it ended up being a pretty short, albeit interesting, hike.

Pavement on Old Route 2

Pavement on Old Route 2

This hike starts on a dead-end road just to the north of Route 2, which is, in this part of the state, a 4-lane limited access highway. It follows the route of the old Route 2, before some dangerous curves were straightened. There is a long stretch of the old cement pavement with traction grooves. I was also following the blue blazes of the Shenipsit Trail, which passes through here.

Cement-henge

Cement-henge

This weird and sad-looking collection of cement piers is on the left a bit into the woods, just past the Glastonbury Gun Range. No idea what they originally supported.

Green Blazed "Shortcut" Trail

Green Blazed “Shortcut” Trail

After passing the cement pillars and crossing over an old stone highway bridge, you come to a green-blazed side trail on your right, which heads south to two massive culverts that carry Dark Hollow Brook underneath Route 2. They are also a shortcut on the Shenipsit Trail, which does a long road-walking detour to avoid crossing the highway.

Yeah, No.

Yeah, No.

Dark Hollow Brook was running quite briskly through the culverts, and I just didn’t fancy getting wet, or worse, slipping and falling under a highway with no cellphone reception (I am cursed with a vivid imagination). As a result, I didn’t get to see the whole second part of the hike as described in the article.

Shenipsit Sign

Shenipsit Sign

I must say, though, that the sight of the blue blazes marching away into the woods north of Route 2 was quite compelling. I really, really just wanted to keep walking. I was so inspired that I decided to plan a through-hike of the Shenipsit, using maybe Ubers to go from trailhead to trailhead.

My Track (click for details and to download)

My Track (click for details and to download)

As always, you can click the map, above, to see a detailed view and description of this hike. Also, I recommend you visit the Connecticut Forest & Park Association’s interactive map of all their blue-blazed hiking trails in the state. The Shenipsit Trail runs from East Haddam to Stafford Springs, approximately 50 miles.

Blackledge Falls & Gay City SP

Posted By on January 13, 2017

Blackledge Falls & Gay City SP

5.42 miles; Glastonbury, CT

Wow, long time between hikes, what with a busy schedule and SNOW (ugh). But we have been having a January heat wave, so snow’s all gone, and my schedule cleared today, so I dashed out. Saw from the Glastonbury Town map of the Falls that there were connecting trails to Gay City, and I’ve been wanting to get back there forever, so I killed two hikes with one, uh, hike. I am a sucker for interconnected trail systems… this map was like catnip. And the reason I wanted to get back to Gay City was, well, see below.

First Stop, the Falls

There is a large parking lot and a short little trail system (approx. 1.5 miles) associated with Blackledge Falls in Glastonbury. In fact, it seemed overly blazed for such a small loop. Maybe it’s easier to miss in the summer?

According to my extensive Twitter reading, this is a much more impressive sight when the temps are below freezing. Hey, it was cold enough today, so maybe this is also good enough? Yeah. It’s fine.

From the Falls, I meandered through the trail system following the blue trail, which took a turn to the north towards Gay City State Park. I’d been to Gay City once before, but never got to see the ruins. “Ruins?” you ask. Yes, apparently this place would have been better named “Bad Luck City.” Here’s the tl;dr version from Wikipedia:

The isolated hollow on the Blackledge River was first settled by religious leader Elijah Andrus and his followers in 1796. A succession of ill-fated mills marked the town’s history—the first built around 1800 and the last burning down in 1879. Village history has also been burdened with tales of community tensions caused by the free use of alcohol during twice weekly religious services and of grisly murders gone unpunished.

Following construction of a sawmill and wool mill, the village became known as Factory Hollow and grew to about 25 families, many of whom bore the surname Gay. The wool mill’s commercial success ended with the War of 1812; the mill burned down in 1830. A paper mill revived the village’s fortunes but it too fell victim to fire, leading to the village’s ultimate demise. The property was sold to the state by one of the town’s last descendants in 1943, at which time the name Gay City was applied to the site. A year later the land became a state park, then entered the official roles as Connecticut’s 54th state park, with 680 acres, in 1946.

Last time I was here, I did a big loop around the perimeter of the park, starting and ending from Birch Mountain Road, so I never did see any of the ruins. The intermittently-blazed blue trail took me from the Blackledge Falls trail system about 8/10s of a mile to the red trail that circles Gay City SP. This time, instead of continuing around, I took the yellow-blazed trail that would take me to the center of the park and the old mill site.

Art Project

Art Project

Along the way, I came across this Art Project. At least, that’s what it said in the Guest Book.

Guest Book

Guest Book

I did notice a lot of artistically-scattered broken shards where the glass(???) ornaments blew off the tree and shattered. Hope the last part of the Art Project involves picking up the pieces.

Ruins!

Ruins!

Also along the yellow trail you can find this gorgeous old cellar hole. Not sure if this was a mill or a house or a barn, but whatever it was, it was beautifully laid. The walls are still arrow-straight and crisp. Lovely.

Mill Site

Mill Site

 

Mill Site

Mill Site

At the intersection of the yellow-blazed trail and the blue-blazed Shenipsit Trail, there is another white-blazed side trail that takes you to this amazing and HUGE old mill site. Really, this is massive. Must have been quite the operation in its day. I rather wish the lovelorn person with the can of black spray paint had not been here, however.

Hikes with Bathrooms, a Continuing Series

Hikes with Bathrooms, a Continuing Series

Not far from the mill ruins one finds a Youth Camping Area, and yes, a bathroom. A solar-powered bathroom. I mean, such luxury!

My Track (click for details)

My Track (click for details)

The map that’s pictured above is from the Open Hiking Map, and I had this to follow with me on the phone. As you can see, there is a trail to the east of the one I took, which I considered taking back to the car. Glad I didn’t, though, because it kind of looks like it veers off State property and onto private property. Hard to tell from here, but that’s what it looked like at the time, too. But it would have made a very cool complete loop, instead of a lollipop loop. You can find info on Blackledge Falls from this Town of Glastonbury site, and Gay City from the CT DEEP website.