Lyme Corner Trails – October 2018

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Our four mile hike today took us into the Lyme Corner Trails in Connecticut.  This area consists of Hartman Park, Walbridge Woodlands and Philip E. Young Preserve. We only did about a third of the trails in this complex of preserves, parks and woodlands.

There are four different parking areas for this trail system on Gungy Road.  We parked at the Field Entrance.  The trails we explored were the  Yellow to the Red to the Green Red, back to the Red, to the Orange, a bit on the Park Road (purple) to Orange to Blue to Orange and returned on the Yellow we entered in on.

Our first sight was Lily Rock close to the beginning of the hike.

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Our our way to Turtle Rock we meandered about in the woods.  There were numerous bridges over small streams throughout the trail system.

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Returning to the Red Trail we traipsed across the “bald nubble”.

From here we made our way over to the next sight, an overlook that included powerline viewing.

After the overlook and briefly losing the orange trail, but finding it again, we continued on the orange to the blue trail only to return to the orange to see “the flume”.

The orange trail led us to the yellow trail and back to our car.

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We wandered for about four miles in the forest.  After our hike we headed over to Niantic to try out a new brewery, Noble Jay.  Always good to enjoy a pint after a hike. This was a well spent morning, exploring the forests of Lyme, Connecticut.

 

Timberland Preserve – September 2018

Today we headed off to hike a new to us trail, Timberland Preserve in Guilford.  This Preserve had so many trail options, it is a great choice to hike if you are looking to do either long or short distances.  We did a bit of a loop hike here, getting in 4 miles for an hour and half.  There are over 15 miles of trails here, so well worth spending some time here.  This was just a lovely quiet walk in the woods.  Not much to ruminate here about the hike, so I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Where It All Began – Lantern Hill – June 22

On Lantern Hill
On Lantern Hill

For some reason when we were climbing Percy Peaks last weekend, I decided I needed to go “home” this weekend.  I needed to be on the “mountain” I first climbed at age 7ish.  I don’t know why I felt this pull, I just knew enough to heed the feeling.

At the age of five, my parents moved the family to Ledyard , CT.  A small rural community, way before the Pequot casino ever came to dominate the area.  My front yard (ok across the street) was a forest and swamp that the blue blazed trail system cut through and behind the house, Lantern Hill loomed.  I would eat breakfast looking out at the mountain from our kitchen table.  From our house, we could often see campfires glowing from the rock at night.  Or one night I remember watching a ferocious lightning storm grab ahold of the summit, striking it repeatedly. The prettiest time was the fall when the colors would set the mountain ablaze.

I don’t know how many times I went up that mountain, but as the youngest of six in our family,  someone was always in charge of watching me, so that meant if they went up to Lantern Hill, I went too.  We pulled into the little  parking spot and I was instantly transported to being a little kid, following family members up the incline.  Most times we didn’t drive here, instead we would the half mile or so to get here, sometimes via the road or we would use cut through paths off of Lantern Hill Road.

the first blue blaze
the first blue blaze

I learned how to read blazes on trees from my siblings and outdoorsy neighbors.  They taught me importance of reading, understanding and following them.  Maybe the path is a bit more worn, but following the blue blazes looked like it did when I was little.

First up hill
First up hill

What appeared next on the trail wasn’t familiar to me.  The Casino has created another trail system for their guests, The Lantern Hill Trail and used different markings than the traditional blue trail.

Blazes for the Lantern Hill Trail
Blazes for the Lantern Hill Trail
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Legal Warning?

As this was my trip down memory lane, I wasn’t having anything to do with this new trail.  OK to be truthful, I am still a bit bitter about this entire casino taking over the land.  Don’t try to reason with me that it was their land first, blah, blah, blah.  They destroyed some beautiful  hiking trails off of Indiantown Road and I wonder if Cedar Swamp still exists or  if some building sits on top of it now? I have never been to the Casino and will not support it in any way.

Back to the blue blazed trail. Go to the left.

Head Left
Head Left

From here the path goes up and how I remember my oh so little legs churning up these hills, trying to keep up with the “big kids”.

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After this the views start to open up looking over Lantern Hill Road and Indiantown Road.  In the 1970’s and 1980’s we could see our little neighborhood.  I couldn’t wait to see it again, I wanted to look down over my childhood.

ummm friends, where is my house?
ummm friends, where is my house?

WHAT? Where is the big field behind my house?  That always made it easy to spot.  Our neighbors had a mini farm with a field for their horses right behind my parent’s house.  It always made it easy to spot looking down from Lantern Hill.  It was gone.  I was sad.  We snapped lots of photos to try to see if we could spot it or any of the neighbor’s houses, but we couldn’t figure it out.

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Lantern Hill Pond
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Couldn’t figure out where the white house was located? Anyone?

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We still had more views to check out, so we started scrambling up.

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Our to our next viewing spot.  Mike spent time trying to find my childhood landmarks.  I gave up and instead focused on the blueberry bush right in front of me.

nom nom nom
nom nom nom

We had a few rock scrambles and I felt like a kid again.  Up I went, having fun. I remembered it was here that I had no fear of heights or rock scrambles. I could go to the edge and look out.  I was just a kid in the woods hanging with my older siblings.

Until one day, Larry decided to be funny and hop down to smaller ledge, I thought he had fallen off the edge of the hill.   At that moment, a fear of heights took hold.  This incident came clearly back to me as we hiked up today.  It was a startling memory, but I was glad to know how my fear began (sorry Larry this is not intended to make you feel guilty).

fun rock
fun rock

Again we tried looking out to find the familiar landmarks of my youth, but to no avail.

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From here we followed the trail over to the other lookout.  This I remembered always being a sea of green.  Didn’t need to spend time looking for anything special, I could just absorb the views.

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We trekked along following the GPS to the summit.  There is no marking, we could find, to tell has we had reached the summit on Lantern Hill.  We watched the turkey vultures for a bit, something that was familiar to see from my youth.

Turkey Vulture Soars
Turkey Vulture Soars

Over to the left the old Silica Mine was still in existence, just not active.

Silica Mine
Silica Mine

We arrived at the tail end of Mountain Laurel season blooms.  I do recollect being here when it was in  full bloom and how beautiful it made the hike, during those times.

Mountain Laurel
Mountain Laurel

We turned around and headed out the way we came.  I had to stop and catch my breath as I saw the casino buildings rising out of the land.  I held back tears because it was an unnatural structure, screaming for attention, in such an organice place.

casino rises
casino rises

I stopped at the bottom of the trail and just stood.  I took a moment to thank the universe  for putting people in my life who gave me the love of nature.  It started with my siblings and their partners (yup they are older than me, I am truly the baby of the family)  for dragging me along (though I don’t think they had much of a choice)on their outdoor adventures.  I was thankful for neighbors who brought me outside to teach me the names of trees and flowers, Mrs. Teft and Susan.  Lastly, my mother, who was a walker.  She walked everywhere, including the blue blazed trails, or un marked paths in the woods to cut pussy willows or just simply to walk to clear her mind.  They all taught me there is no better playground than outdoors in the woods or a better place to find peace in a chaotic world.

It was a good trip back “home”.  I haven’t been in Ledyard in over 10 years and I think the last time I climbed Lantern Hill was almost 30 years ago.  I did forget it was an easy hike and very short.  It took us longer to drive there than it did to do an out and back hike.  Maybe next time we can do a car spot with someone and hike more of the blue blazed trails in the area.

The Details:  Park on Wintechog Hill Road, North Stonington or you can park at Two Trees Inn and follow the trail from there to the blue blazed trail.  We just went up and back for about a mile, total time was 30 minutes.  Still great views out, but for friends and family who want to see the views we saw in the 70’s and 80’s they are gone, covered by trees.

Cedar Mountain Meander (Nov. 4, 2012)

Today had us out strolling Cedar Mountain in Newington, Ct.  This little parcel of land has been in the news lately because Toll Brothers want to develop it and make it a housing development.  We decided to get out there before we lose this little gem.

We parked behind the Newington Humane Society and started our stroll. We crossed through a pet cemetery and over a bridge.

Crossing the bridge

We then just meandered about, as the trails weren’t blazed, but you could see paths leading all over.

typical path

We followed a path to the summit of Cedar Mountain for views out. We could see the Hanging Hills of Meriden, the Heublein Tower and Rattlesnake Cliffs.

We then doubled back to get to the open area.

 

Along the way nature provided us with bits of beauty.

bittersweet

 

We just wandered the woods behind the Humane Society for about 3 miles.  We plan to return when we have enough snow to snowshoe.  This is a great little woodsy stroll.  Check it out before development takes over.

Don’t forget your boots!! Or hiking Soapstone

Early this morning we decided to go do a short hike in Somers, Ct up to Soapstone Mountain.  It is about a 45 minute drive from our house.  Thirty minutes into the drive, I realized I left my hiking shoes at home.  A big oops. I just hopped in the car on the passenger side with my socks on and made sure we had everything else such as after-hike coconut water, snacks, flip-flops and the most important item ice cream money with us.  Guess my mind was thinking more about after hike than the actual hike.

After turning around, picking up the shoes and returning to the road we made it to the trailhead about an hour and half later.  The hike starts in the Shenispsit State Forest off of Gulf Road.  It has a nice sized parking lot.   We started on the blue blazed trail, then connected to the yellow marked trail.  This was a nice easy trail with informational signs scattered throughout.

We left the yellow and returned to the blue and followed the Shenispsit trail until it crossed the road.  At this point we turned left on the road and continued on it for a short bit.

Short road walk

We then turned left back on the blue which would lead us up to Soapstone.  The trail for us was fairly easy.  We were missing hiking the White Mountains and lamenting how this trail was not a challenge for us.  Well that soon ended.  A quarter-mile from the tower at Soapstone, we hit the part of the trail that seemed  White Mountainish.  We rejoiced.  This section had a steady incline and even a bit of rock slab. We hiked up 300 feet in a quarter-mile.

After that we popped out at the tower.  The tower had beautiful views.  Glad we turned around to get my boots and didn’t abandon the notion of hiking here today.

View from Soapstone Tower
Another view from the tower

We didn’t continue the way we came up, instead followed the trail down to the parking lot.  This way down was easy and not nearly as fun as the way we went up.  If you want a straight shot up to the Soapstone tower this is the way to go, it is about .4 miles and not a taxing hike.

turkey fungus on the way down

Overall we completed 3.4 miles in an hour and 27 minutes with an average speed of 2.3 miles.  If you are looking for a short hike with a rewarding view and not terribly strenuous, I would recommend this one. And remember don’t forget your shoes!!

Don’t forget the hiking shoes

Warren’s Den to Rattlesnake Cliffs to Pinnacle Rock

Metacomet Trail from Route 6 to Warren’s Den to Rattlesnake Cliffs to Pinnacle Rock.  

Another Connecticut trail full of history, rocks and beauty.  This is one of my go to trails for all seasons and all levels of exercise.  

This winter we started snowshoeing and it is a perfect trail to practice snowshoeing techniques.  

On clear days within the first .25 miles you can see Heublein Tower off in the distance.  

The trail cuts in and out of level forests to moderate inclines to trudge up or down.  

Once you reach Warren’s Den you are treated to an informational plaque and great rock formations to explore.

A bit past the den, you reach Rattlesnake Cliffs,  a traprock creation that has panoramic views. (1.2 miles to this point)

If you continue past Rattlesnake you travel through more of the Metacomet Trail to Pinnacle Rock, a rock climbers haven.  (from rt. 6 it is 2.4 miles).
Bring a snack and hang out for a while on Pinnacle Rock before resuming your hike back to Route 6.

Anytime of year this is a great hike.  My favorite season is winter with snow decorating the landscape. 

The Details: Park off road on Rt. 6 Farmington (a small parking area is provided and yes it is plowed). 1.1 miles to Warren’s Den, but go the extra .1 mile to Rattlesnake Cliffs for the views.  If you want continue on for another 1.2 miles to Pinnacle Rock.  This is not a time-consuming hike (unless you are snowshoeing).  Great views, lovely forests and fun ups and downs make this a fun hike, especially for a family outing.

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