Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Back on the Giant

It's been a few weeks since I was in Sleeping Giant Park, but it's a great day - humidity's down, a little breezy... - and I had some time to kill, so...

From the main parking lot, I took the Orange trail to the Red Circle trail, then on to the Green trail back to it's start on top of the Giant's Chest.  The White, White/Blue and then Blue trails over to the Tower, and the Tower Path back down to the parking lot.  Just about 5 miles over a 2+ hour hike.

Looking South from the Giant's Chest -
Quinnipiac U, East Rock and New Haven

While trails like the Blue and White take you across the tops of the ridges that make up Sleeping Giant, the Orange and Green run along the valleys between them.  The Orange heads up across the south side of the second ridge with views to East Rock and New Haven.  From the Green, you look up at the cliffs below the Tower, and make your way up to the Giant's Chest - great views west to the Giant's Chin and south past Quinnipiac, to New Haven and Long Island Sound (if it's clear - today there was just a little shimmer in the distance).

The trails were quiet today.  Along the way, I passed a few hikers walking their dogs - or following quickly after their dogs.  Four legs and you can negotiate the trails a little better!

As usual, the Tower Path was busy with walkers, joggers and a lot of little kids heading to the Tower.  One little girl wanted an adventure, but Dad wasn't going for it.
"Honey, we're not exploring any caves today."
"Daddy, we are 'sploring caves." 
I've seen that look in a little kid's eyes before - I wouldn't bet against her.

Along the Green Trail

Rock Formation - Indian Head looking
down on the Tower Path

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Regicides Trail

After hiking a piece of the trail last week, I figured I'd knock off the rest.  The Regicides Trail is a 7 mile spur of the Quinnipiac trail branching off between York Mountain in Hamden and West Rock in New Haven. 

I arrived at the Wintergreen Avenue park entrance early - even earlier than the gate goes up!  My hike just got a mile or so longer than planned.  Normally, this time of year, the park road is open weekends so you can drive up to West Rock and Judges Cave, just not this early.  I walked up the entrance road to my 'starting point' the South Overlook.

7am and it's hazy already.  The normally clear view of New Haven and Long Island Sound was obscured and misty.  Looking east, I could just make out East Rock and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument.  To the northeast, Sleeping Giant was just a hazy watercolor image, darker hills floating in the white haze on the horizon. 

The trail begins behind the park pavillion and winds it's way along the cliff edge.  I looked down from the first overlook to see Heron's flying around the West River and Lily Pond - long graceful birds in flight. They seem to be all wing until they land in the tree, then it's all neck.

The Regicides Trail gets its name from, and takes you past, Judges Cave - a group of boulders where William Goffe and Edward Whalley, two of the 59 judges who signed the death warrent for England's King Charles I, hid during the summer of 1661.  Find a quick history here. 
A historic spot, and one I haven't visited since maybe third grade!

The trail leads down into Buttress Gap - directly above the Wilbur Cross Parkway tunnel - past radio and cell towers, past one of the tunnel's ventilation towers, and back along the West Rock Ridge.  It seems pretty level on the maps, but there is a lot of up and down over the sometimes jagged and generally rocky path as it follows the mountain ridges.  There were a few points where I wondered why I was hopping from rock to rock when there's a nice flat road just 10 feet to the east!  But that's not trail hiking, so I stayed with the blue blazes.  The trail does cross Baldwin Drive in several places, just keep an eye out for blazes on the guardrail to see where the trail dives back into the woods.

This trail is about the views off the cliffs  -

Konolds Pond (nearly covered in lily pads)

Lake Dawson
Glen Lake off in the distance

Power Lines cut through the Trail

Lake Watrous

Farm Brook Reservoir and Laurel View Country Club

Looking Back at New Haven from Trail's End

After finding the end trail marker (that tree with blue blazes, R's and Q's all over it) I backtracked to the Red and Red/White Dot Trails of the West Rock Ridge Park system, and made my way past the Farm Brook Reservoir to Hill Street. The new trails create loop routes all through the park - and many hike options for your time and temperament.  UPDATE -  the trail maps... include more detail on the connector trails at the north and south ends and at Lake Wintergreen. 

Sunday, July 11, 2010

West Rock Ridge State Park

... around Lake Wintergreen.

I joined a New Haven Hiking Club hike Saturday at West Rock Ridge State Park, meeting at Lake Wintergreen.  I was early for the start, and waited at the lake watching kayaks launching out into the water, mountain bikers heading into the trails and families and dogs taking a walk in the woods.  Everyone was out trying to get some nice day in before the thunderstorms that were forecast later.

Once everyone arrived, and signed in (and yes, I realize if I fall or twist an ankle or get lost in the woods it's my own problem and not the responsibility of the Hiking Club, hike leader, etc etc) we set off heading north on the Red Trail along Wintergreen Brook.  There were seven of us, with Gordon in the lead.  The trail was a level, easy walk along the stream and then into the woods.  At 2.7 miles, we turned west on Mountain Road, and then into the woods again taking the Yellow trail up the hill, where it meets the Regicides Trail.

      Link to Trail Map                    Link to Park Web Site

The Regicides Trail is a seven mile spur of the Blue Blazed trails running from The Quinnipiac Trail on York Mountain at the north, to West Rock at the south.  We hiked roughly the middle three miles.  Like much of the Quinnipiac Trail, the Regicides runs along the mountain ridge.  If the trail gets too rocky for you, Baldwin Drive is about 10 steps away.  The road is closed to motor traffic and runs the length of the park parallel to the Blue Trail.

There are great views to the west from lookouts along the trail - looking out it seems there's nothing but trees in Woodbridge.  We snacked as we went - wild blueberries and huckleberries grow along the trail.  It's been so dry the berries were pretty small - but tasty!  We stopped for lunch on the rocks above Lake Dawson.  I'll have to come back in the fall when air clears and the leaves turn color.  Spectacular.

I took the lead right after lunch, and in a few minutes came to a trail crossing.  Yelling back - do we take the Yellow or stay on Blue?  Immediately, urgent cries came back - 'Don't take the Yellow!!!'; 'Not the Yellow!!!' NO YELLOW!!'.  Easy guys, no problem - we'll stay on the Blue.  The Yellow here is one of the access trails running west to the Woodbridge side, leading back down the mountain in the exact opposite direction we wanted to head today. 

A few minutes later, the trail crossed  Baldwin Drive, and we took the Orange back down toward Lake Wintergreen.  Then on to the White trail  - a wide, level path that runs through the pine forest along the western shore of the lake, taking us back to the parking lot.  It was a nice easy six miles, the ascent on the yellow was fairly steep, but we took it slow.  Back down on the Orange, it's just a moderate hike down the hill.  There are about 21 miles of the trails in park - that just leaves 15 to go!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Round Two

Time to start my summer Master's hikes - once again hiking all the blazed trails sometime between now and the beginning of fall.  This morning it was Blue trail up the Giant's Head, past the Tower, a quick turn at Red Circle onto the Violet trail back to the river, and then up the Red Diamond trail for a nice slow finish along the Mill River.

And I took my own suggestions from the last time I hiked the Blue - kept it to two hours, only did part of the trail and I hiked up to the Chin from the quarry instead of down the other way.  And you know what? 


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