Thursday, September 16, 2010

Westwood Trails, Guilford

“The Westwoods trail system is the largest recreational area for hiking in Guilford. Westwoods contains 39 miles of trails on 1,200 acres. It contains a wide diversity of fascinating natural formations such as cave structures, water falls, salt and fresh water marshes, inland tidal lake, carved rock sculptures and rock formations.”

That's the intro on the Guilford Land Trust website.  A copy of the trail map is available here, but the best bet is to stop at Bishop's Orchards nearby on Route 1and pick up a larger copy (along with any fruits, veggies and pies you might need - I love this place!).

The hike was organized by the meetup.com New Haven Treks.  It was a cloudy day, but cool and breezy - good hiking weather.  We hit the White, Yellow and Orange circle trails, along with a few side trails; approx 5 miles.  These are multi-use trails – a biker in full battle gear rode out of the trail just as we were gathering, and did a wheelie drop off the parking lot log on the way out.  So keep an eye out...

The first trails here were laid out in 1967 by Richard Elliott. And unless there were two trail consultants Richard Elliott in the 60’s, he’s the same guy who helped design the trail system at Sleeping Giant.

First stop on the White trail was near this Cyprus tree - that looks like it smashed through a boulder to start growing.  It's a pretty good bet the split boulder was here long before the tree, but it was a neat sight.


A little farther on the White, we crested a ridge looking down on the Lost Lake.  The cliff here makes a really good picnic spot overlooking the lake.  We took a little break and were joined by a runaway - little Zoey decided we looked like more fun that her family, and we couldn't get rid of her.  She stuck with us down and then up again over the next rise.  Finally, one of the guys took her by the hand and led her back.  OK, by the paw - I don't know how her little Dachshund legs got her up the cliffs, but she made it easier than the rest of us.



Indian Cave on the
Orange Circle Trail

The draw here, other than a nice walk in the woods, is the geology - the trails go up, down and around rock ledges and cliffs.  And in several cases, right through cracks and crevices in the boulders.  Pictured left is the "Indian Cave", a shelter formed by a boulder overhang.  I think it's a local thing - calling any boulder formation that keeps out the rain a cave.  A friend in New York (who lives not far from Howe Caverns) wasn’t impressed with our calling a few nestled boulders on the Regicide Trail 'Judges Cave'.  He’d feel the same here, but there are small caves to explore along the rock formations.





Land of the Lost
Rock Formations

Yes, the trail really does
go through here!


The trails crisscross a clearing for the power lines, and without blazes it’s easy to lose track of where you are.  So I’m not sure which trail led us up and onto a rock ledge. (or course it’s possible I was chatting instead of paying attention to the trails…)  Evan, the hike leader, brought us up to an area covered with cactus – in Connecticut!?  Here’s the question – is Prickly Pear native, non-native or an invasive plant?  It seemed quite happy growing out the sandy areas on the rocks. 
Prickly Pear growing wild on the ledge

Find the
Hidden Mickey's


This will be a different park when the winter thaw and spring rains fill up the streams and marshes again.  We hiked over several dry stream beds, and along what the maps call the “Seasonal Waterfall”.  Like Prydden Falls on Lake Zoar, it was out of season.  But come back in February, March, April… it should be a different sight.
 

Dry now, but come back in the
spring to see this "Seasonal Waterfall"

The Plank Walk across dry streambeds.
Dry for now, anyway.


It was a good hike with a good group.  There are many more miles of trails to hike here, and across the Branford border in the neighboring Stony Creek Quarry Preserve. So call this post Westwoods 1. 

2 comments:

  1. Prickley pear - I looked it up - it is indeed native to N.E. - a species of 'special concern' - i.e. rare in CT
    http://www.ct-botanical-society.org/galleries/opuntiahumi.html

    Sat. 8 or 9 White to Red Circle back Orange?

    ReplyDelete
  2. I guess all it needs is a micro-climate channeling an Arizona desert - rare, indeed.
    See you Saturday! ~8:15 starting on the west side, right?

    ReplyDelete

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