|This hike occurred July 22, 2012|
Miller’s Pond State Park, Durham, CT – Parking: There is a lot of parking available at Miller’s Pond; they have a lot that holds a few dozen cars so unless you’re hiking on a hot Saturday afternoon, you should be able to find a parking spot quite easily.
Corner of Pisgah Rd and Sand Hill Rd, Durham, CT – Parking: This technically isn’t a trail head but I was perfectly happy parking on the side of the road. There is a sizable shoulder (there’s enough room to have the car completely off the road) and no signs saying you can’t park there. We didn’t have any problems and saw other cars parked there too.
Length/Distance: This hike was rather long. We started at Miller’s Pond and hiked to the corner of Pisgah and Sand Hill Roads. According to my GPS tracking program, our route was 7.3 miles [I tried to edit the map and it changed my mileage; the map’s mileage is incorrect. It really was 7.3 miles! Sorry!]. According to the CT Walk book, it should have been 5.9 miles. The difference between the two was substantial at 1.4 miles. This was rather irritating.
Summary: We began our hike at Miller’s Pond. It was a beautiful summer day and many people were at the pond swimming, splashing, and picnicking. We went down to the water to see the areas people were using to swim. The water looked cool and refreshing.
I grew up within 30 minutes of here and had only heard about the park online from people’s reviews saying it was an excellent place to bring your dog and swim. As you can see from the sign at the top of the blog, it is explicitly listed as a “swim at your own risk” kind of place. They don’t do water testing, have life guards or designated swimming areas, or charge money to enter the park. This is an awesome hidden gem.
The trail from the parking lot to the blue trail is the white trail. It takes you part way around the lake before joining up with the blue trail which then leads around the rest of the lake. The lake was beautiful. We’re planning on returning to the lake soon to do some swimming of our own.
Because of the news articles, I was on the lookout for the cliffs I’d heard about. There is a smallish section of cliffs in the middle of the northwest side of the lake. From what I could tell, it is extremely difficult to get to the cliffs; if you can walk there, it’s a bare minimum of 1/2 mile from the parking lot. They seemed to be most accessible from the lake. It obviously takes quite a bit of effort to find them and jump off of them. Seems like a waste of energy to me; the rest of the lake looks so relaxing. After going around the lake, the trail heads up Bear Rock. The trail upward was rather steep.
But the views were very nice!
After these views, we then headed back down. The trail down was… steep. It involved a lot of rock climbing and tree hugging to make sure we didn’t fall to our deaths.
My dog managed to survive it just fine but an older dog or less agile person would want to take the side trail that avoids this section (Bear Rock Bypass). The CT Walk book recommends utilizing this trail bypass during inclement weather and during the winter when the main trail may have ice on the rocks.
After this section, the trail is mostly just little ups and downs and a whole ton of walking. There were some very cool trees that grew around a rock. Made us wonder if the rock had been moving over the past hundred years.
There was a large rock formation made up of Milky Quartz.
And this trail apparently goes past Coginchaug Cave. It wasn’t much of a cave, honestly. It was a rock overhang with an indent. Right towards the end of the trail, there were the remains of what we thought was probably a raccoon. It was rather interesting.
After this, the trail came out onto Old Blue Hills Road. The trail was marked fairly well on the telephone poles. We walked almost a mile on the road, crossed Rt. 79 (where this sign was located), and arrived at our car!
I’m also thrilled to report that my hiking sneakers arrived. I like them a lot!