Belding Path & Valley Falls Park

Posted By on August 6, 2017

Belding Path & Valley Falls Park

5 miles; Vernon and Rockville, CT

The weather finally broke today, and it was cooler and much dryer, so I jumped at the chance to go on a hike someplace I hadn’t been before. I found this place by poking around the interactive hiking map on the CFPA website. Nice spot, and I need to go back, as I couldn’t do as much as I wanted to because of other engagements later in the day.

Tankerhoosen River

Tankerhoosen River

I started at the Belding Wildlife Management Area, which is an educational and conservation oriented property belonging to the state of Connecticut. There are eleventy-gazillion [a slight exaggeration, ed.] interpretative signs all along these trails. The blue-blazed Shenipsit Trail follows the banks of the Tankerhoosen River through a lovely old hemlock forest here.

Bench at Mill Pond

Bench at Mill Pond

There is a large stone monument at the southernmost point of the trails on Belding which talks about the family who donated the property to the state, and some of the area’s history. So what do I take a photo of? A bench with some loosestrife in the background. Hey, it’s a nice bench!

Soccer Field

Soccer Field

The Shenipsit eventually enters Vernon’s Valley Falls Park, which, huh, who knew? Charges admission, even if you hiked in ($1.00 for hikers). I don’t usually carry any cash on me when I hike in the woods, and I managed to cajole the little girl who was taking admission into waiving it for me. (Don’t worry, I drove back after the hike and gave her my dollar.)

Turns out that I’ve hiked this part of the Shenipsit Trail before, with my pals Stacy and Gillian the dog. From the park entrance, it quickly hooks up with the Hop River Rail Trail. I opted to forego hiking the rail trail, because, as had been our experience before, it’s as busy as Route 95 on the weekends with bikers and walkers and joggers, oh my. Instead I took the blue/yellow blazed Western Loop Trail that climbed straight uphill from the rail trail. And lo and behold, well, I’ll outsource this part to Steve at CTMQ:

Once atop the ridge, the blazes become somewhat difficult to follow so I lost the trail for a moment and found myself, rather oddly, standing at the end of a nicely maintained soccer field.

A soccer field on top of a (small) mountain in the middle of the woods. There are no roads leading to the field; just a rutted dirt road at the extreme western end which leads to a neighborhood. The whole scene was really, really weird.

Who plays games here? Why is this field here in the first place? It’s very disorienting. It’s called the Boulder Ridge Soccer Field and… That’s all I can tell you. I can almost see a well-hit errant shot on goal making its way through the trees on top of the ridge and then falling down the cliffs all the way to the rail trail 200 feet below.

Which, upon reflection, could be pretty funny.

Yup. Soccer field in the middle of the woods.

Vulture from Lookout Trail (Lookout for the Vultures!)

Vulture from Lookout Trail (Lookout for the Vultures!)

After the soccer field the trail looped around to hook back up with the Hop River trail, but first, I noticed a little white-blazed side trail marked “Lookout Trail.” Mmm-kay… I’ll bite. Turned out to be a gorgeous view of the surrounding hills which, according to the map, ran just above the Hop River trail. You couldn’t see or hear the rail trail from here, though. All you saw was vultures, playing on the thermals.

Stairs

Stairs

There are some very nicely-built stairs on the trail that goes around the small pond at Valley Falls Park.

Slime Mold

Slime Mold

And on the way back to Belding and my car, I noticed this log that was covered with white slime mold. At least, that’s what I’m pretty sure this is. Fungus shot!

You can read more about the Belding Wildlife Management Area here (pdf file). And here’s a brochure and trail map of Valley Falls Park (also a pdf file). And as always, click on the image, above, for details about my hike and to download the GPS track.

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