Saturday, August 14, 2010

Lillinonah Trail - Newtown, CT

and who in the world is Al?

5.7 mile loop hike through the upper Paugussett Forest along Pond Brook and the Housatonic River. Moderate to difficult. It’s a little tough to rate – much of the trail is level and easy, but there are sections of steep up and downs, rock scrambles, and slippery eroded trail sections.  But it's a beautiful area and a great hike.  Hike time - including the hike, a few photo stops, and a panic stricken slap-dance (keep reading, I’ll explain later) – just under 3 hours.

     Trail Map            

Don't miss this parking lot
Check out the Connecticut Walk Book (West) for directions and trail description. The parking lot is small and unmarked. Coming from the south, I went right by it – if you come to Pond Brook Rd and the Boat Launch, you’ve gone too far.

The blue-blazed trail starts out on Hanover Road, and the first trail marker you see says “Al’s Trail – Northern Terminus”. Yes, you’re in the right place. The trail is named for Al Goodrich, one of the many people involved in creating a 10 mile walking trail through Newtown. The first 4 miles of Al’s Trail overlaps the Lillinonah. Follow the blue blazes and the yellow Newtown Trail signs.

Part of this trail – a marked 3.1 mile Scenic Trail – is closed between December 15 and March 15 as the river section is a winter nesting area for Bald Eagles. As the rivers up north freeze, limiting the eagle's ability to find food, they fly south to feed and nest on the Housatonic. There’s an observation center on the Shepaug Dam, open during the winter.  But since this is mid-August, no problem, I keep on hiking.

The trail runs near the river edge, but not close enough to see much through the trees. There are a few spots you can cut over and out to the water’s edge. It’s a beautiful area – along the water, then up a steep climb into the forest with varied terrain - open forest, ferns and mossy boulders.

Lake Lillinonah

At the trail peak, find a big gnarly oak tree with a letterbox. One entry from a few weeks ago reads “Never been mountain biking before. Might not survive this one. SO DIFFICULT.”   Dude, there’s no biking on the blue trails!!  Maybe he came in on the white trail from the Upper Gussy, but from all the bike tracks I see, my guess is there’s more bike traffic than this trail can handle. There are trail sections worn away where erosion makes the footing difficult and probably treacherous when it gets wet.

Maple tree tapped for Syrup

The trail goes back down toward the river, up again and then back down. Near the Shephaug Dam, the trail turns west to the Echo Valley Road parking area, and then north back through the forest to the loop’s starting point. Along the way, the trail cuts around and through stone walls, and past a grove of maple trees all strung together with white and blue tubing. The DEP runs a maple sugaring operation in the spring – collecting sap, making syrup, and managing the forest to make sure the sweetest trees thrive.

And here’s where I forgot the first rules of hiking –
   1. stay on the trail
   2. if you do forget #1 and go off trail, don’t backtrack getting back – pick a looping route.

Why? Cuz if you go off trail and walk through a yellowjacket nest and stir them up, you don’t want to walk straight back through the swarm! There was much slapping, running, stinging, and yes even a little whimpering. And my arms and legs were burning from the half dozen stings all the way back to the parking lot.

On the way out, I was going to stop at the Blue Colony Diner  for lunch – all chrome and art deco, the food’s got to be good. But since my legs and right arm were still on fire, I didn’t have much of an appetite. Maybe there’s an ER around here instead…


  1. Yikes! Sounds like you had quite an adventure! Thanks for the great descriptions - makes me want to get out more. MORE? I left a comment on Thursday, but I think it got lost in cyberspace??? I was hiking on Thursday with another fellow named Jim whom I met by happenstance on the Blue/Q trail at SG. He's done the Meta. and the Matta. and is now working on the Q. Co-incidence. Hope no ill effects from the yellow jackets!

  2. Get out more? Which day is left??

    No lasting damage, just a little itchy today. I was on Violet and Yellow this morning, just a few more sections left for my summer GM.

  3. Hi there Jim,

    I wanted to say that I really enjoy reading your blog. It's similar to mine from a day hiking perspective, just in CT, not NH. I'd like to add you to my blog list on my site if that is okay. I always like to ask owner before adding...just in case. Let me know and keep up the good work.


  4. Hi Karl,

    Thanks for the comments, and please go ahead and list my blog. If it's okay with you, I'd like to return the favor. I'll count on your blog to point me in the right direction the next time I'm in New Hampshire.

  5. Jim,

    I'd appreciate that. I will make sure your blog listed on my site today. Thanks and I look forward to more adventures from CT.




Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...