|This hike occurred on June 8, 2012|
River Rd., Middletown, CT – Parking: The parking area for this trail head is located next to a power plant. You go down River Rd, pass the Kleen Energy entrance on your right and keep going for a bit. You’ll see another power plant of some kind on your left. Right before the entrance to that plant, there’s parking available on the left side of the road. The trail head has been moved maybe 1/10th of a mile past the plant, as noted on the sign below. This sign was on a telephone pole across the street from the parking area. We parked a car here but started from Reservoir Rd so we never had to find the trail head here. Judging by the difficulty we had trying to get off the trail onto the road, I would say the trail head would be very difficult to find.
Reservoir Rd., Middletown, CT – Parking: So, apparently you’re not supposed to park on this section of the road, since it’s state property. If you’d like to hike from/to this location, you should park your car on the side of the road at Cedar Ln & Reservoir Rd and walk in. The blue trail crosses Reservoir Rd twice; the Blue-Yellow Reservoir Loop trail also has one end on Reservoir Rd.
Length/Distance: We began at Reservoir Rd and hiked towards River Rd. The hike was supposed to be approximately 3.45 miles. My GPS tracking program said that our route was 6.08 miles long. To say it wasn’t the hike we expected would be an extreme understatement.
Summary: This was perhaps the most frustrating hike we have ever been on. The beginning of the hike from Reservoir Rd went well enough. After a sharp climb, we encountered a beautiful view of Asylum Reservoir Number 1.
Not long after that, we went downhill for a bit and encountered a cave which was quite nifty.
|View from trail|
|View from inside looking out|
We hiked for maybe 1/2 mile when we came to an area where the trail split and wasn’t marked. We continued down what we thought was the Blue trail. It wasn’t the Blue trail. It brought us out to Reservoir Rd and we found the Blue-Yellow and followed it back to the Blue trail. From there, the hike was pleasant enough for a while. There was a delightfully large number of frogs living in this area and we found many healthy specimens living in off-road vehicle created “ponds” (which unfortunately took up much of the path).
One of the major challenges about this hike was the prolific collection of off-road trails. Because so many people had come through blazing new trails with their motorized bikes and trucks, it was hard to know which trail you were supposed to follow. At the same time, the trail was not clearly marked in many places. Not long after encountering these man-made ponds, the trail paralleled power lines for a while. After curving to the left, the trail quickly became unmarked. We ended up doing a mile-wide loop, following off-roading trails, trying to find the Blue trail. We were unable to find it, despite having GPS, paper and online maps, and the trail’s portion of the CT Walk book with explicit directions. Eventually, we decided to utilize our GPS and our paper maps to attempt to find the Blue trail on our own, ignoring any trails. After maybe 100 yards, we located the Blue-blazed trail. However, while the “trail” was now blue-blazed, the trail was not clear. The trail took us through 300 yards of unstable rocks, 6 foot tall brambles with 2 inch prickers, and poison ivy.
|In the midst of all that horror, this beautiful flower was growing|
We finally burst out of the underbrush onto an access road underneath the power lines. From this point onward, the trail wasn’t difficult to follow, though it took us through another thicket, this time of Tartarian Honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) shrubs taller than me.
However, as we got closer to River Rd, the Blue trail split and went two different directions. We assumed it was to old vs. new trail head. We followed the newer paint. It brought us out at the new trail head which was 1/10th of a mile from our car. The exit from the trail onto the road was very overgrown and had poison ivy growing rampant.
To say I was aggravated would be an understatement. I did contact the Connecticut Forest & Park Association which is the organization responsible for overseeing the CT Blue trail. They said they would look into remarking that section of the trail. I can only hope they do. But I won’t be hiking that section ever again!