Saturday, October 2, 2010

Quinnipiac Trail - North End, Rte 68 to Rocky Top

North terminus of the Quinnipiac Trail at Rt 68 in Prospect, to Rocky Top Road in Hamden, 14 miles.





Maybe the most photographed
boundary marker in town

To finish the Quinnipiac Trail, I started at the end (according to the Connecticut Walk Book, anyway) and hiked back through a couple of sections.  The trail starts at the corner of Route 68 and Chatfield St. in Prospect, and the initial ¾ of a mile takes you up the street, around the corner, past the farmer’s field and to the water towers at the end of Cornwall Ave.  And we still haven’t hit the woods yet!  Around the fence, and onto an old stagecoach road, the trail heads up the hill into the woods at a Cheshire – Prospect boundary marker. 


...up the hill to the crest of Prospect Ridge. This traprock ridge forms the border between Cheshire and Prospect – there are stone walls along the way marking the properties.  The trail follows the ridge, which should give you a look in the distance east and west, but it would take a little selective logging to clear the views.

and I really mean the trail follows the ridge
One of the stone walls marking the
Cheshire - Prospect border

Past a small creek, the trail crosses the stream leading to Roaring Brook Falls.  The trail has been rerouted recently; brand new blazes guide the way.  Roaring Brook is babbling brook now; the falls along the trail are just a trickle compared to the spring when I was last through here.  But there is still plenty of evidence of camping at the top of the falls – old campfires, a few plastic sheets and someone’s tent hanging to dry. Somebody missed the "carry in, carry out" lecture.

Roaring Brook, or not

Continue along the ridges - down one and up the next – one of the neighbors has American Indian flute music playing.  It seems fitting in the woods here.  The trail passes a small pond and crosses Route 42, Bethany Mountain Road, entering the Sanford Block of the Naugatuck State Forest. Then it’s a quick climb to the peak of Mt. Sanford, and down to the false summit.  Views from both look out over Prospect, the leaves are just starting to turn color – some red and yellow among all the green.  The trail continues down through YMCA Camp Mountain Laurel and out onto Downes Road.  Much quieter than when I came by in the summer when camp was in full swing.

The road leads you past Westwoods Cemetery, with graves from the early to mid 1800’s.  A big warning sign restricts stone rubbing, artificial decorations (signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs…), but in this case I don’t blame them.  The grave markers look like they need a little TLC.
Walk down the street – near the end of Downes Road, the trail cuts east back into the woods and leads through a really nice section of trail.

Up through the open forest, across clearings for gas and power lines, through a pine forest and then up into a grove of Mountain Laurel that forms an arch over the trail, leading to what’s left of stone cottages. I took a break on what was the front porch.

Up the front steps

Old Stone Cottage

And then up to the next peak - Mad Mare's Hill.  The Walk Book says views east, but I think that was before the trees grew.  Check it again in a couple of months after the leaves fall…

Gather your strength – the next section drops down the hill fast from the 720’ peak, cuts across Brooks Road, leads back over a stone dam and then a steep climb up to High Rock at 670’. Whew! Feel the burn.  The High Rock area marks the north end of West Rock Ridge, yet another traprock ridge running south to New Haven.  The trail runs along the west side of the ridge, bringing you out to the cliff with views west to Woodbridge and Bethany, and a great place to sit and have lunch!
 
View west into Woodbridge

The trail turns east again at the junction with the Regicide Trail, and a look out through the trees to the New Haven skyline.  The trail along here is due for reblazing – since it’s open and well hiked, it’s easy to get off the trail.  Or maybe I was reading what was carved into the trees instead of looking for blue blazes. “Time Wounds All Heels” – what do you think – Barefoot Hikers?  John Lennon fans?  Maybe jilted girlfriends?  Who knows, but the sentiment has withstood the test of time, and tree growth.




Hazy view to New Haven from York Mountain
Wind down from York Mountain, out onto Paradise Road for another hike along the street.  Then back into the woods, down past Shepard Brook and then out again on the road to Rocky Top.

The Quinnipiac Trail is done!  24 miles along the oldest of Connecticut’s blue-blazed trail system.  What a sense of accomplishment…  Now will someone please give me a ride back to my car?

3 comments:

  1. Hey Jim ... guess I haven't been keeping up with your blogs - I can't figure out how to get notified automatically when you post - anyway - Congratulations! I see you've posted since, so I guess you got that ride :-> Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi--great post. I often hike to High Rock. The view from there (the one you have a picture of) is Woodbridge, CT.

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  3. Hi Paul, thanks for stopping by. And you're right, that is Woodbridge - not Prospect. I was only a couple of towns off! Corrections made.

    ReplyDelete

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