Friday, July 29, 2016

Waggin' Trail

This was the second of our guided hikes following one of the Shelton Trails Marathon listed hikes. Called the "Dog Paw and Flower Path", it incorporated the Dog Paw Path, the Flower Path, and parts of the Rec path and the Paugussett Trail for a total of 1.6 miles.
Click on photos to enlarge  

We gathered at the Shelton Dog Park, where Terry (and Biscuit) outlined the hike plan

Starting up the Dog Paw Path 

Crossing the power lines from the Rec Path to the Flower Path

Learning to use a map
We stopped at Eklund Garden for a break and to enjoy the native plants

At Hope Lake, Biscuit cooled off his paws

Not so for the kids...they had to settle for just looking

The serenity of the lake was a welcome break

Near the end of the hike

 It was a great day for a hike, the heat wave had not yet hit us, and we enjoyed the diversity of this route. Those participating in the Shelton Trails Marathon chalked up another length of track toward their goal. Hope to see you on the next hike!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Birchbank Trailhead Makeover

See the bench? It's so covered up with invasive Japanese Knotweed, it's hard to see. The photo was taken in 2015 before we began efforts to eradicate a vast area of knotweed at the beginning of the trail. The "after" photo is just below it. 

June 2015 "BEFORE" - all Japanese Knotweed
July 2016 - same spot "AFTER"
This spot has good sun, well-drained but moist soil with a neutral pH, so after the knotweed was mostly gone, some flowers were planted. 

Bee balm has been a big hit, attracting lots of hummingbirds and butterflies. The "After" photo doesn't do it justice since it wasn't in full bloom yet. The video is better. 

The deer like this one too much - Woodland Sunflower

Woodland Sunflower is a native that is found growing along roadsides, but the deer have just demolished it. This plant is often four or five feet tall. A few packets of free wildflower seeds were also planted, and some of those are coming up and blooming. Not bad!

Monday, July 18, 2016

NOTICE: Trail Closures at Shelton Lakes

July 20 to August 26, 2016

Utility work to replace insulators will result in sporadic trail closures affecting the Shelton Lakes trail network between Buddington Road and Meadow Street. Closures are most likely Mon.- Friday between 7 am and 5 pm., as well as Saturday, August 13. 

Preliminary Schedule (subject to change)
Buddington Road area: 7/26 to 7/29 and 8/19 to 8/22
Oak Valley Rd area: 7/27 to 7/29 and 8/23 to 8/25
Shelton Ave area: 8/1 to 8/3 and 8/23 to 8/26
Independence Drive/Soundview/Wellington Court: 8/2 to 8/5, 8/19, and 8/22 to 8/23

By Date:
7/26 to 7/29 Buddington Road - Oak Valley

8/1 to 8/3 Shelton Ave 
8/2 to 8/5 Independence Drive-Soundview-Wellington Ct
8/19 to 8/22 Buddington
8/19, 8/22 to 8/23 Independence/Soundview/Wellington Ct
8/23 to 8/25 Oak Valley Road
8/23 to 8/26 Shelton Ave

Crews will be working up on the lines and there is the potential for items to fall. No lines will be down.  Closed sections will be marked off and will only affect the areas under the powerlines.
Updates will be posted on this blog. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Take the Shelton Trails Marathon Challenge

Many people have already started the 2016 Shelton Trails Marathon Challenge.  Anybody can do it, and you don't need a passport, thousands of dollars, a plane ticket to Brazil, or to even be an athlete.  You certainly don't need to get naked and run through the woods like the ancient Greeks (please don't - it's prohibited by the Open Space Ordinance).

You only need to get out and start walking.  It's that easy.

The 2016 Shelton Trails Marathon Challenge coincides with this year's Olympics.  A number of people know that we have trails in town, but they don't know all of them.  We want you to have fun exploring all that Shelton's greenways have to offer.  You just have to hike 13 routes totaling 26.2 miles between June and Thanksgiving, fill out a form saying when you hiked them, mail the form to the Shelton Conservation Commission, and you get a free unique pathtag medal suitable for putting on your favorite jacket, pack or whatever.  And you get to brag to your friends that you did a marathon.

You don't have to do all 26.2 miles at once, but you can.    You don't have to run the trails, but you can.  You don't have to take your dog, kids, or spouse along, but you can.  You can even do it walking backwards (bring a mirror).  You can do the hikes in any order, whenever you feel like it, take as long as you want between now and Thanksgiving. Take some cool pictures of caves, overlooks, wildlife, plants, friends, sunsets, sunrises, moonrises, or whatever looks fun and send them into the Shelton Conservation Commission.

Forms and Maps are on-line.  A series of guided hikes is also listed under the events page.  So channel your inner Phidippides and explore Shelton's trails and greenways this year. 

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Paugussett Trail Work Party

While most of us would prefer to spend the day at the beach or lounge lazily in the back yard on such a great day, some hardy souls chose to work on improving a section of the Paugussett Trail in Shelton. Work started at the entrance to the trail on Mayflower Drive and ended at the crossover on Route 110 (Leavenworth Rd). (The accompanying photos appear somewhat distorted due to an erroneous camera setting by the knuckle-head photographer).
Most of the work involved cutting back stray vines and especially Japanese Barberry, an invasive plant that covers large sections of the woods, and is nasty to control. Loppers, weed-whackers, and hedge trimmers were put to use in this battle

Terry explains to Val and Sheri the safety measures he takes while using the weed-whacker
Mark works at clearing the entrance to the trail at  Rt 110. The area had been completely overgrown and was difficult to find from the street
Many thanks to volunteers Val, Luis, Mark, and Shelton Trails Committee members Sheri, Jim, and Terry. Knucklehead Richard was behind the camera

Another day, another clean-up. Hope to see you at our next event!


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Short Crew of Minions on Saturday

We had a short crew on Saturday.  Actually we were probably of average height, but only 3 of us showed up.  We did get a fair piece of work done before we had to leave for our other weekend tasks though.

The goal was to mow the Paugussett Trail though the Wiecek Open Space on Constitution Blvd North, however since we had limited staff we focused on moving rocks and filling in ditches and walls left over from recent CL&P construction along the powerlines.

Here was a diversion ditch filled in with rocks to make it easier to walk, bike and drive maintenance gear over.

The farmer had started to hay the lower Wiecek Meadow last week so we left the upper meadow alone for now.  Follow the blue-blazed stakes along the perimeter of the hay field until we mow.

 The cut-out in the stone wall was cleared.  The viburnum and greenbriars were putting on a flowery show.

We then cleared out the trail from Constitution Blvd North toward Wellington Court, cut out down toward Dyer Straits, then the battery in the mower shorted out.  The brushcutter also wouldn't idle properly, so we used the string trimmer until that ran out of string.  It just wasn't our day.  Luckily the hedgetrimmer worked so we were able to convince Rich to keep working while we went old school and started cutting briars manually.

June is a tough month to keep trails clear.  Especially in the open areas when it rains and there's a lot of warm sun; everything just explodes.  Jim later cleared blowdowns by the Dog Park, and Teresa cut brush back on the Paugussett Trail, the RecPath, and at other trails.  So enjoy the trails, and follow Bill Dyer's ABC advice; Allways Bring Clippers.  Seriously, bring your clippers when you go bike riding, running, or walking because you'll need them.  Or plan to join us for a trail work party because we appreciate any and all agile active trail aficionados. See the work party page for more info.

And check out the Mountain Laurel on the RecPath south of the Dog Park this week.  You won't be sorry.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Trails Day 2016: Paugussett Trail North

Birchbank Trailhead
A group of intrepid hikers tackled Shelton's most difficult trail for Trails Day 2016, and one of our thirteen hikes of the 2016 Shelton Trails Marathon. The Paugussett Trail between Birchbank and Indian Well has some challenging footing in places, especially when the rock is damp and slick like it was for Trails Day.  We gave it the hardest rating in the CFPA Trails Day Guide: A black diamond. 

Upper White Hills Brook, Birchbank Trail
The hikers took Birchbank Trail up from Indian Well Road until the white blazes met the blue blazes of the Paugussett Trail at the chimney, where the Paugussett was recently rerouted. 

The Birchbank Chimney
From the chimney, the hike took a left turn onto the Paugussett Trail and continued up the hill to the overlook.

Birchbank Overlook

It's always hot on Trails Day, and this day was no exception. It was also muggy, with slugs and giant millipedes wandering about the trails. This made the next section more of a challenge, because there was a lot of damp rock, and all it takes is one slip to break a leg. 

Maidenhair Fern
Most of the uphill climbing was done by the time the hikers arrived at the overlook, but there was still a good rocky scree section. It's good to go slow with this type of trail and think about where you want to place each foot. Walking sticks are helpful, too. 

Up the mossy scree slope

First of The Boulders
After the scree, comes The Boulders. This is still in Birchbank, just before you arrive at Indian Well. There is one clump of boulders that hikers need to "scramble" over, meaning they need to use their hands. After the boulders, a few trail sections were overgrown, so Teresa stayed behind to clear the trail. 
Once the trail hits the Indian Well line (marked with yellow paint on a tree near a stream, with a Shelton Open Space marker looking in reverse), the footing is much easier until the descent down to Indian Well Falls, which is very steep and may be rerouted. 

Sadly, the Indian Well overlook was overgrown and there was no view. This is something we will bring up with CFPA and the DEEP, because we can't go in there and start cutting trees on state property.