Hike occurred on June 19, 2013
56 Howd Rd., Durham, CT – Parking: On Howd Rd., there was some side-of-the-road parking spots near where the blue trail enters the woods. There were 4-5 spots, each of which could hold 2-3 cars, though a number of the spots were very, very muddy. We hiked from here.
705 Wallingford Rd., Durham, CT – Parking: On Wallingford Rd/Rt-68, where the blue trail enters the woods, there was side-of-the-road parking spots with enough space to park 2-3 cars.
Length/Distance: According to the CT Walk book, the hike was 4.1 miles. According to my GPS tracking program, our route (1 & 2) was 4.76 miles.
Summary: We started out on Howd Road. The trail was clearly marked and easy to find. The initial climb was a bit steep but fairly short and gave a view of Pistapaug Pond.
From there, it was more uphill for quite a while. The trail was often covered in loose rock that was very unstable, difficult to navigate, and treacherous to ankles.
After some time, the trail leveled out and the walking was more smooth.
It had rained profusely two days before and there were some areas of the trail that had flooded.
Around here, there was a swampy area and we heard an American Bullfrog.
After an incline, we walked along an area with barbed wire directly touching the trail. The barbed wire looked fairly new though in some spots, it had collapsed and was across the trail. There was some spiders that had taken advantage of the wire to build some cool webs.
Maybe a few tenths of a mile beyond the barbed wire fence, the trail turned but we missed the turn. We noticed our mistake very quickly and retraced our steps a few hundred yards. The trail’s turn was not clear at all. The trail turned to the left but didn’t have any clear markings showing it leaving from an open path.
The path to the right looked obvious and clear.
This tiny skinny tree was the only mark indicating the trail split off in this direction. You can see it in the upper left if you look closely two pictures up.
Here’s a look backwards along the path we came from. The blue blaze is more obvious from this direction. However, you can see the trail is small and not very obvious. It seems a small sign with an arrow might not go amiss in this situation.
Soon after the trail turn off, there was a swampy area of ground we had to cross over. My dog was thrilled to muck about in the mud.
To the left of the trail, you could see a section of loose rock on the mountainside.
From here, the trail began to climb diagonally up a steep incline. The path was covered in unstable rock footing.
The trail then straightened out, only to climb sharply uphill.
Once you got around the bend, you saw it continued.
And then continued again.
Once we finally made the top of the rise, there were some beautiful views of the William J Ulbrich Reservoir to (partially) reward us for our climb.
There were numerous lookout points along the trail, each with slightly different views.
To note: there was a firing range somewhere beyond the lake and the sound reverberated off the rocks. During our climb, we could hear shots being fired.
From here, it was mostly downhill. There was another area with muddy ground.
After much downhill, we happened upon a stone fence.
This seemed to mark the beginning/end of the trail in the woods; there was a sign clearly showing the trail entered the woods here.
After this, we walked along an open corridor with signs saying there were underground fiber optic cables. Right around here, we saw a sign for the Cattails Shelter.
A local landowner has provided two shelters for hikers and backbackers.
There was wood; drinking water; two Backpacker magazines; a plastic tote with cardboard, extra paper, and a blanket; Cutter bug candle; a tin with adhesive bandages, bacitracin, acetaminophen, antihistamine, and other basic first aid items; and a tin with a visit log book. There was also a fire pit with a grill to cook food items.
It looked liked a really nifty place to spend the night. According to the New England Trail website, it’s a first-come, first-serve overnight shelter maintained by the neighboring Peters family.
Overall, it was a challenging hike with many intense climbs. Much of the trail was uneven and each person twisted their ankle at least once on this hike.