|This hike occurred on June 19, 2012|
Bear Hill Rd., Middletown, CT – Parking: There is off-street parking for 3-4 cars. The road is also very quiet and has a sizable shoulder so parking isn’t an issue at this trail head. This trail head was easy to find.
Aircraft Rd., Middletown, CT – Parking: To reach this trail head, you’ll need to drive past a section of the Cockaponset State Forest. If you came off of Rt 9 and travel towards Pratt and Whitney, both Cockaponset and the trail head are on your left. Thankfully, the sign you see above is at the trail head so it’s somewhat easy to find. The majority of parking here is on the side of the road. Aircraft Rd does have a sizable breakdown lane but cars travel on this road around 50-60 MPH so be very careful if you do park on the road. I found a 1 car space off the road a few hundred feet away from the trail head.
Length/Distance: According to my GPS tracking program, our route was about 4.35 miles. According to the CT Walk books, it was only supposed to be 4.0 miles.
Summary: We parked one car at Aircraft Rd and then began our hike at Bear Hill Rd. Very soon after entering the woods, we came out into a clearing with power lines. This is where the Blue goes one way and the Blue-Yellow (Bear Hill Loop trail) goes another. Given some of the tracks in the dirt, it appears the area under the power lines is a popular spot for ATVs, dirt bikes, and other off-road vehicles.
After this, we went through many copses of Mountain Laurel. It could have been a bit spooky but at the time, it was just beautiful.
After this, the path twists and turns around Bear Hill and there was some rather substantial hills and rocks to climb. For this section of the trail, we primarily walked on rock.
At one point, the path takes you along a rocky ridge with a sharp drop-off to your right. It was high enough to make me walk very carefully.
After this section of trail, the path went back to being primarily woods with some water features. The trail weaves back and forth across the clear, clean stream for a mile or so. The creek was very pretty. We came upon a pool that contained many large frogs; they made some strange squeaky noises before jumping to safety in the water.
Towards the very end of the hike, we thought we were done but then the trail took a sharp turn and went upwards again. The path led us along another ridge with a very sharp drop on the left. This portion of the trail was rather narrow to begin with and the drop made me nervous. This is the first hike we’ve done where I was fearful of falling.
The hike was fairly easy but also didn’t have any rewarding views. Because we never climbed above the tree cover, we didn’t get to see anything very cool. This section of the trail seemed to lack much in the way of wildlife as well. Overall, it was a bit of a lackluster hike. We agreed that a bit more work for a better view would have been worth it.