Saturday, October 23, 2021
Elevation gain/loss: 3222’/3009′
GaiaGPS track (corrected for two spots where I got off trail)
After spotting a car at the small parking lot off of Wunsch Rd, Little Engine and I started our hike at 9am from the Sugarloaf parking lot right outside the park. We walked over to the sign indicating the start of the Pocumtuck Ridge Trail and started up the trail towards South Sugarloaf. We quickly summited the mountain and then headed down and over to North Sugarloaf. We took the steep cutoff trail, but Little Engine’s low blood pressure made the steep sidehilling challenging. In the future, I’d probably avoid this cutoff and just take the longer way around. We summited North Sugarloaf by 10am and then dropped down to Hillside Ave, where there was a busy parking area. We hiked over Stage Rd and then climbed back up to the ridge, following it over to the Deerfield Academy’s ski mountain. We stopped for a short break at a picnic table just shy of the ski lifts and had a lunch snack, then pushed on. The blue blazes disappeared as we approached school propery; we followed the washed out access road down, but split off onto a mountain bike trail partway down to see if it would have blue blazes. Once we hit Pine Nook Rd, we followed it until we ran into blue blazes again and then I ran back to where we’d split off – the trail did indeed just follow the access road.
Happy to be back on trail, we continued on, coming out on Rices Ferry Rd then ducking back into the woods again to summit Trap Rock Ledge. Then it was down to Keets Rd by Woolman Hill Retreat Center. The blazes indicated we should go left and then we didn’t see any more blazes for a few miles as we walked Keets Rd to Rt-5; once we passed by River Rd, we saw blazes on the concrete bridge and were able to follow those onto Cheapside St and then Hope St. Along Keets Rd, we saw where the trail used to go and now, there’s a large field of solar panels and hikers are clearly not allowed anymore. Once we passed under the railroad bridge on Hope St, the blazes entered the woods to an overgrown track with a ton of trees blown across the trail, paralleling the tracks for a short way before meeting up with a more established trail. Then it was up to Sachem Head, down to Mountain Rd, and once we crossed the street, the blazes disappeared. We followed the road to the Poet’s Seat Tower, occassionally seeing very worn or painted over blazes. We passed by the tower and entered the woods, where we found blue blazes again. We followed these as they descended the ridge and then paralleled the Connecticut River for a while. Thwne we crossed Turners Falls Rd, crossed under some power lines, and made our way back to Wunsch Rd.
It was great to find a new-to-me trail and explore it end to end. After walking through, I’d say 85-90% of the trail was easily runnable. I look forward to running this sometime soon!