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cosmic
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« on: September 11, 2009, 09:39:17 AM »


Metacomet Trail
Sections 1 and 2
Berlin and Meriden, CT
September 5, 2009
Trail Miles 11.5
Total Miles Hiked 13.5





Last weekend, Rage, Julie, my brother in law Ted, and I started the Metacomet Trail. The intention of my brother and myself is to section hike the entire trail south to north, similar to Rage's Tunxis hike.

The trail winds through Berlin and Meriden before heading north along the Metacomet ridge through Plainville, Farmington, West Hartford, Bloomfield, East Granby and Suffield. Its southern terminus is also the northern terminus of the Mattabesset Trail, which extends south into Madison, and then back northeast to Middletown. The Metacomet continues north through Massachusetts and into New Hampshire as the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail, ending at Mount Monadnock. The entire trail in Connecticut is 51 miles.

We started at the southern terminus of the trail, which is on the Berlin Turnpike in Berlin. It wasn't a very picturesque start to a hike with cars zipping by and litter on the side of the road, but in an effort to be faithful to the trail, we decided to include the two mile road walk joining the Metacomet and Mattabesset. Our plan was to cover sections 1 and 2, 11.5 miles, which would include Castle Craig and the Hanging Hills in Meriden.

After the road walk, the trail turned into the woods, and fortunately stayed off of roads for the remainder of the two sections, with the exception of a few crossings. Upon first leaving the road it seemed like we were going to be in for a long tedious day, as the trail was overgrown with tall grass, weeds, and prickers. This quickly changed to a comfortable wooded path, and stayed this way for the day.

The major challenge of the day was following the blue blazes. The trail isn't nearly as well maintained or well traveled as the AT, and there are lots of side trails, and old dirt roads to throw you off. We had to stop and look around several times to find the next blue blaze, and oftentimes it was very faint old paint that looked like lichen.

Late in the hike, around mile 9, we lost the trail and didn't realize it for several minutes. Even then, we weren't sure we had lost it, and only later when I compared the GPS track to the hiking trail, I discovered approximately where we went wrong. After we suspected we might be off trail, we started looking around carefully for blazes, and actually found faint old blue blazes so we thought we were still on the right path. This must have been an old route for the trail, and it led us about a mile further north than where we needed to be and then off the ridge to the west. When the blue blazes changed to purple, we knew we had been misled, and climbed back onto the ridge to try to find the correct route. At the time, we didn't realize how far back we needed to go to get to the correct blue blazes, so we assumed the correct route was nearby. We tried following a trail that headed in the general direction we knew we needed to go. This trail eventually came out on private property to a very welcoming "Beware of Attack Dog" sign, before ending in someone's backyard. We followed their long driveway to the end of a long cul-de sac, and then the cul-de-sac out to the main road, at which point we were about a mile north of the car and the end of section two. With this misguided wandering, the hike ended up being about 13.5 miles.

Despite the misadventure, the day was incredible. The weather was beautiful, and the temperature was perfect. The trail is highly impressive, considering the part of the state it covers. After a few miles of relatively low elevation woods walking, the trail climbs onto the ridge and stays high, offering several excellent views. It goes by Castle Craig, which is the castle visible from I-691 in Meriden, providing 360 degree views of the area. This is the only part of the trail we saw anyone else, since there is an access road. Fortunately, most people don't wander more than about a quarter mile from the Castle, so the rest of the day was all ours.

The crew excluding myself


Approach to Castle Craig from the east. It is that little bump at the end of the ridge.


Merimere Reservoir in Meriden


On the ridge looking down on Merimere Reservoir with Meriden in the background. For some reason my camera loves to turn beautiful blue skies to white haze  Roll Eyes


Castle Craig- notice all the people, this was not typical for the day-


View west from the top of the Castle, I-691 visible


View north with Hartford visible


Hikers taking a break


GPS Track versus Correct Route:


After the hike I figured out a way to to upload hiking trails into my GPS watch as a course I can follow. This should really help in the future on these poorly marked trails. I will create another topic with details when I have a chance.

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Rage
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2009, 10:02:54 AM »

It was a great day and much more scenic that the Tunxis Trail.  I can't believe how far off track we were.  I have some additional photos that I should be able to add tonight. 
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atruss
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2009, 10:23:17 AM »

Nice report.

I've been wanting to do that too, looks much more interesting than the sections I did with Rage on the Tunxis.
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stuckinjersey
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2009, 11:05:25 AM »

looks like a great family outing was had. Good to see you cats are still hiking hard.
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Rage
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2009, 06:44:31 PM »

I will spare you all and get right to the pictures.  They are very similar to my brother's but we all like pictures so here they are.

Berlin Turnpike



The trail early on.





Tree fort















« Last Edit: September 11, 2009, 06:46:25 PM by Rage » Logged
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« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2009, 07:44:04 PM »

Funny pic !!
I used to live 2 miles from the BTPK and I associate that place furthest from hiking.

I think of adolescent teens racing their pimped out junkers and adults who act like adolescents with their pimped out big $$ cars trying to race anyone who pulls up next to them at a friggin red light.
To say it in the nicest way my fingers will allow me to type; I'm not a fan of that lifestyle.

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jjj4762
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2009, 10:17:55 AM »

Great report, thanks for sharing.  I'm actually glad you included some of the early photos to get a better feel for the condition of the trail.  The Metacomet in the reservoir and over by Penwood and Hublein Tower is beautiful.  Sometimes it is easy to take what we have here in CT for granted. 

Obviously seems like a good idea to have gps for this kind of hike.  I probably need to break down and invest in one soon.  Can use it for mountain biking too.
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cosmic
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« Reply #7 on: September 12, 2009, 10:24:38 AM »

I really like that Berlin Turnpike photo - the juxtaposition ...it's kind of cool, and not what you expect from a hiking photo. The lighting is nice too.

jjj- once you get a gps you will feel naked without it
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atruss
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« Reply #8 on: September 12, 2009, 10:44:25 AM »

I really like that Berlin Turnpike photo - the juxtaposition ...it's kind of cool, and not what you expect from a hiking photo. The lighting is nice too.

jjj- once you get a gps you will feel naked without it

The guardrail brings you into the photo and gives it depth, similar to the way you would use a stone wall in the wood, except this has an urban context to it.
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BearPiper
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« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2009, 12:34:10 AM »

Sounds like a fun trip. Must have been strange for the drivers. I can't imagine they ever see anyone walking on the berlin turnpike.
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cosmic
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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2009, 08:25:09 AM »

Metacomet Trail
Sections 2 and 3
Meriden, CT
September 13, 2009

Miles Hiked 9/13                11.4
Total Miles Hiked To Date   25
Total Trail Miles To Date     19.6


Rage and I met at the end of Section 2 at 7 a.m., drove north to about two-thirds of the way through Section 3, dropped a car off and then went back to the end of Section 2. We started hiking at 7:28.

Because of our blunder last weekend, we both wanted to hike the end of Section 2 before starting Section 3. Although we had hiked a longer distance, and ended at the correct point, we had left out a piece of the Metacomet. So we headed up the trail to find the point where we lost the trail last weekend. After a quick 1.4 miles, we found the spot, and it was clear why we had made our mistake.

This is a photo of the trail junction showing a very wide, well worn trail curving around to the left, and then a narrow trail breaking off to the right. There is a blaze on the tree between the two, but I would have expected the two blaze turn symbol, an arrow, etc. This was compounded by the fact that the trail to left was most likely an older version of the trail, with faded blazes.


After about an hour we were back to the car, the end of Section 2, and started into Section 3. This section starts with about a 1.25 mile road walk, but after that the trail heads into the woods, and with the exception of one crossing at the end of Section 3a, 3a and 3b are entirely in the woods.

The section was really an enjoyable hike. 3a goes over Short Mountain which offers views to the south and west, but the best part is in 3b around Ragged Mountain. This section involves some very steep scrambling, hiking along the top of the cliffs, and almost constant views. Unlike section 2, there were no crowds other than a few climbers at the top of the cliffs - but nothing like the crowd at Castle Craig. And other than at the top of the cliffs, we saw only one other hiker in the five hours we were out there. This trail really seems to be underutilized, but I'm not complaining.

A shot from Short Mountain looking south back on the Hanging Hills in Meriden and the terrain we covered last weekend:


Rage walking along the top of the Ragged Mountain Cliffs:


Top of Ragged Mountain Cliffs, looking south:


Near the end of the day's hike. That sign warned about dangerous terrain:
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atruss
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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2009, 09:25:50 AM »

Looks nice,
I'm feeling pretty good now, I hope to be able to join you this weekend if you guys are doing some more.
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cosmic
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« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2009, 11:57:53 AM »

glad to hear you are feeling better- next weekend is a definite possibility for me.
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surf88
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« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2009, 12:37:11 PM »

Nice I like these local TRs you guys put up.  I think its as important to be familiar with whats close to home as it is to be well traveled to bigger and better things.  Thanks for sharing.
Edit-  and reps for putting in the Drinking Water infrastruture shots  Grin .
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More Snow Please?

My Blog:
http://www.outdoortripreports.com/
Rage
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« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2009, 05:49:49 PM »

Here are a few more pictures from section 3.







A warning sign.



At the base of the southern most point of Ragged.



A fun little scrambling section of the trail. 







A little memorial was at the top of this section.





Like Cosmic said this is a shot looking back at where we came from.  If you look closely you can see some towers in the center of the picture,  that's where we were last week.















So far this trail has not been a disappointment and I look forward to the next section. 

These aren't the best pictures but you can see the progress we're making and how much more we have to go.

The pink is what we've hiked so far.



Its a good thing I have such high ceilings.

« Last Edit: September 14, 2009, 06:00:00 PM by Rage » Logged
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