Monday, November 15, 2010

Salmon River Trail

Colchester CT
6.7 mile loop trail through the Salmon River State Forest and the Day Pond Brook State Park.

    Trail Map                  Salmon River State Forest              Day Pond State Park

The Salmon River Trail starts with a stroll across one of the last active covered bridges in Connecticut, the Comstock Bridge.  This photo is from a great site that chronicles the covered bridges in the state.  The bridge was built in the 1870’s for horse and buggy, and then pedestrian, traffic. 

But here’s the state of the bridge today.  It was starting to sag and fail, and the great news is that instead of being replaced with a modern bridge, it’s being restored with much of the original material and design.  Expected completion next June.  You can catch up on the details here

I was hiking today with Pixie (gotta love those trail names).  She wanted a river hike, so here we go.  The trail has been rerouted away from the bridge and along Route 16.  It’s fall in Connecticut, and that means hunting season.  That does not mean there’s no hiking, just that you have to take certain precautions – like keeping your eyes open, staying on the trails, wearing a bright orange hat or vest, and never wearing white gloves that might be confused with a deer’s tail.  We met a few people on the trail, and two smart enough to get orange vests for their dogs.  Hunters are a responsible bunch, and would really rather bag game than a hiker.  Here’s Pixie all orange’d up with my much-too-big-for-her-vest and hat that says – here I am, and I am not a deer!

The trail starts along the river, through stands of witch hazel shrubs and laurel bushes, and then heads up hill through the pines to give this view of the river below. 

Continuing on, this section is a two mile walk through the Salmon River State Forest, over brooks and passed old stone walls.  In spots, the forest floor is covered with what looks like little pine trees.  But there wasn’t a single pine around that might have spawned the little guys.

What are these things??

Princess Pine or Ground Pine is a fern (Lycopodium spp.), but bears an uncanny resemblance to pine and other evergreens.  Pix found a couple of variations; I won’t even try to guess at which ones.

The trail hits a fork, we head north toward the Day Pond Brook spur trail, and what I heard was a small waterfall.  The spur trail, marked with red over blue blazes, starts at a tree with a plaque to Kyle Reed, who improved the trail as an Eagle Scout project.  Way to go, Kyle.  The spur trail ends in a hemlock grove campsite by the start of the falls.  And it turns out the small waterfall is actually an impressive cascade.  There were four levels of falls and pools that look to drop about eighty feet over the length of the gorge as the brook runs into the Salmon River.  Caves carved out of the rock on either side suggest the falls will really be something when the brook swells with spring rain. 

The spur trail leads through an area of stone walls and foundations – might have been cottages or mills using the stream for water power.  Somewhere along the line, somebody left their car here, adding to the list of Blue Trail wrecks rusting away.

Back on the main blue trail, Day Pond is 1.3 miles south.  This state park has trails around the pond, picnic and beach areas, and fishing all around.  The CCC built dam replaced one that powered a sawmill years ago.  After a quick break here, I continued on the loop back north.  (I did, Pixie took off from here).  The trail leads past a marker for the Arnold Ravine Wilderness Area – a 55 acre preserve that follows an old woods road toward the falls.  The blue trail, woods road and yellow trails offer many options for loop hikes, short walks – anything to fit your mood and schedule.

Working its way back to the Comstock Bridge connector, the trail passes what’s been described as a cabin size boulder.

The size of this glacial erratic – boulders dropped by passing glaciers – is tough to judge in the photo, but here I am doing my best Captain Morgans pose to give it scale.

A quick left at the trail junction marker, and I head back to the Salmon River and the starting point of this loop hike.  Once through the pine forest again, I took a walk off trail and down the hill to get a closer look at the river.

There is more fishing than hunting around here.  Day Pond is a stocked Trout Park with a two fish creel limit.  And this stretch of the Salmon River is a trout management area, so catch and release is the theme.  Juvenile Atlantic Salmon caught now have to be released “immediately without avoidable injury” to give them a chance to grow to dinner size.  In season, this combination of fish led local brewpubs to serve up Tralmon and Stout.  And if that ever really shows up on a menu, the reach of this blog will have surpassed my wildest dreams.

The surprises continued right through the end of the hike.  As I was packing up the car, a bald eagle swooped in over the river.  I’ve heard they are making a comeback around here, but this is the first time I’ve even caught a glimpse of one in the wild.  As fishing goes though, he probably won’t be doing catch and release.  

Click on the album to see the rest of the photos.


  1. You take the best walkabout pictures. I need to get out more!

  2. I hear the Avon Trail is nice - time for a little wander?

  3. Looks like a great hike, Jim. Love the stonewalls and foundation...I even like the old rusty car...adds to the character!




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