The Day – Hiking to the Massachusetts border on the Shenipsit Trail (Part II)
A blazing solar conquer down on asphalt the other afternoon though vehicles and trucks roared earlier quickly foods dining establishments, fuel stations and other enterprises lining Route 30, just outside of the I-84 interchange in Vernon.
“Superb day for a hike,” I muttered, but none of my four companions heard me around the din, as we ongoing to trudge joylessly alongside the aspect of the highway.
Immediately after a mile or so, our team ultimately exited the business zone, followed a blue-blazed trail marker and entered blissfully silent, shaded woods. We then commenced strolling merrily on a easy path lined with lush ferns and mountain laurel overlooking a secluded lake.
These kinds of stark contrasts prevail on the Shenipsit Path, which extends 50 miles from East Hampton in Central Connecticut to Stafford, close to the Massachusetts border. Good friends and I have invested the previous quite a few months mountaineering this footpath in levels, ranging from six to 12 miles.
I described the to start with 50 percent of our journey in a June 2 column, “Climbing to the Massachusetts border on the Shenipsit Path (Aspect I).” This second and final installment covers the final two legs of our journey from Valley Falls Park in Vernon to Ellington, and then from Ellington to the stop of the path in Stafford.
Amongst those people becoming a member of the upcoming-to-last stage ended up Maggie Jones, Phil Plouffe, Chris Woodside and Steve Kurczy, who toted his 2-year-aged son, Manny, in a backpack carrier. For the remaining leg, the team bundled Maggie, Phil, Mary Sommer and Andy Lynn.
The most significant member in the course of the expedition has been our unofficial guide, Larry Lawrence, who we satisfied by luck on our very first day on the trail and who agreed to be a part of us the relaxation of the way. If it were not for Larry, a member of the Meshomasic Climbing Club who earlier had hiked the complete path, we possibly would have wound up meandering an extra 50 miles, owing to our inclination to acquire incorrect turns.
A highlight of the penultimate stage featured a hike along Shenipsit Lake, a 523-acre, natural reservoir that borders Ellington, Tolland and the Rockville segment of Vernon. Not only did this stretch give a welcome respite from a prolonged, oppressive street wander, it underscored how as soon as-active corridors can be repurposed as tranquil woodland trails.
In the early 20th Century, this portion experienced been element of an comprehensive electric powered railroad network that as soon as crisscrossed Connecticut. Fortunately, a developing selection of these former railbeds have been converted to mountaineering and biking trails.
Character also is resilient, Maggie pointed out. We observed a painted turtle laying eggs subsequent to a chain url fence near a noisy highway, tree swallows and catbirds feeding on insects around a tangle of invasive plants and manmade retention pond in a household community, and an enormous useless hemlock tree covered with living mosses and mushrooms.
Our south-north tour “adopted the unfolding of spring, from ramps and trout lilies and trilliums in late April to lady’s slippers and mountain laurel in May possibly and June,” Maggie pointed out.
She also determined an at any time-switching refrain of birds that serenaded us in densely forested regions, which include black-throated eco-friendly warblers, hermit thrushes, scarlet tanagers, ovenbirds and veerys
The large stage of our previous stage, actually and figuratively, arrived atop 1,075 Soapstone Mountain in Somers, the tallest location on the Shenipsit Path. Most guests park at the base off Gulf Street and saunter a very little a lot more than a mile up a little by little graded, gravel road our 5-mile route adopted a steep, slim path, riddled with slippery rocks and stream crossings. Additionally, the moment cresting Soapstone Mountain, we continue to experienced almost 6 additional miles of mountaineering to reach the conclude of the trail.
With temperature and humidity in the mid-80s, we arrived at the summit sweaty and weary, but not too exhausted to climb yet another 30 feet up a lookout tower with a panoramic watch of assorted peaks outside of the Springfield, Mass. skyline, together with 3,41-foot Mount Greylock in Massachusetts. If the sky had been clearer, we might have viewed Vermont’s Inexperienced Mountains and New Hampshire’s White Mountains.
We stretched out on the tower flooring and ate lunch, temporarily cooled by a refreshing breeze.
The point out Department of Power and Environmental Security rebuilt this tower in 2018 to exchange a dilapidated a person torn down in 2014.
The condition experienced bought the mountaintop in 1927 so it could construct a hearth tower to serve Connecticut’s northern forests. Ahead of that tower was changed, the U.S. Army employed it as a Planet War II lookout station.
Soapstone Mountain is named for the soft rock that Indigenous People carved into bowls throughout pre-colonial times. We bypassed a aspect path that would have taken us to an old quarry wherever soapstone was mined until finally 1888, and descended right for fifty percent a mile to Gulf Road.
From there we re-entered the forest and marched a different 2.5 miles, passing Britney’s Pond and crossing Route 190 just before reaching Aged State Street in Somers.
“Alright, we’ve achieved the end. We can prevent in this article,” I joked. Some of the some others appeared puzzled.
“This is where by the trail utilised to close,” Larry stated. Without lacking a action, he crossed the dust highway and continued pursuing blue blazes north.
In 2014, the Connecticut Forest & Park Affiliation, which manages the path as component of an 825-mile statewide strolling-route network, prolonged the Shenipsit by 2.5 miles to Greaves Street Stafford. This very last part took us up and about Bald Mountain, along with a collection of ridges.
At past, we arrived at Greaves Road. Larry’s van, which he experienced dropped off earlier that morning with assist from his wife, Lorraine, was a welcome sight.
No rear seats for passengers, but we were being too whipped to thoughts.
“Where’s our up coming experience?” Phil requested, as we bounced all over on the ground whilst Larry drove back again to my motor vehicle on Hopkins Street. No rest for the weary.
“I really don’t know,” I replied — with hundreds additional miles of trails that we have still to investigate, “I’m positive we will believe of anything.”
Additional information about the Shenipsit is offered on the Connecticut Forest & Park Association’s web site, ctwoodlands org.
Much more information about the 400-member Meshomasic Hiking Club, which has donated additional than $50,000 to land trusts for open-house preservation, is offered at