Friday, June 8, 2018

It's June - Mountain Laurel Time

In case you live and work in an underground bomb shelter, It's June and the weather is great outside!  And bye the way, the Mountain Laurel are spectacular along the Recreation Path.

Some times we get so wrapped up in chores, sports, home improvements, etc. that we forget to see what's around us.  We see some attractive spring flowers as we speed by on City streets, but do we really see them?  They are nice everywhere this year, but one really good place to see them is along the powerlines by the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path. 

The best stretch is between the Nells Rock Parking Lot at the Dog Park, and Great Ledge going past Oak Valley Road.  There are a lot of good sights along the entire RecPath, but you'll see a lot of picturesque views with very little effort by taking a walk along this stretch this year.  Take your time and soak in the scenery.

There are places where you'll feel like your walking through a tunnel of flowers.  It won't last forever, so carve out a few minutes and go for a short walk this weekend, or possible a longer one.  There's a variety of reasons that residents like Shelton's greenways.  Go for a walk and you'll be pleasantly surprised along Shelton's trails and open spaces.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

2018 Trails Day Hike - Overlook to Overlook

On a muggy and tropical National Trails Day, we had a challenging hike on the Paugussett Trail from Birchbank Mountain to Webb Mountain.   We had previously spotted cars at Webb Mountain Park in Monroe for the drive back to Shelton after the hike.
The map shows the route of the hike. It was 4 miles, with 800 feet of elevation gain, and 3 stream crossings.

Portions of the Blue/White trail up the hill from Birchbank Road were steep, and hot, but with a number of stops we arrived at the first Housatonic River overlook.  And there was a breeze!.

Birchbank Mtn overlook

 Following a short breather at the overlook we went down to Upper White Hills Brook.

Crossing Upper White Hills Brook (at the chimney)

This was one of three pretty streams that we crossed.  The two four-footed hikers with us enjoyed each stream crossing.

The first of the brief road walks

This stretch of the Paugussett involves 2 road walks through quiet residential neighborhoods.   We said hi to folks out mowing their lawns and doing yardwork as our party trooped past.  A little red fox was spotted running across one yard not too far from a road named Little Fox Run.  We then climbed some of the new stair along the "Poet Path" section (a number of streets in this neighborhood are named after famous authors).

Eventually we came out on Thoreau Drive, had another shorter road walk, and came to the crossing of Round Hill Brook.  Congratulations the party made it to Monroe.

New bridge at Webb Mtn Park

Our event was supposed to meet with a Monroe event near the new bridge that the girl scouts had constructed along with a trail blazing project.  They were up at the second Overlook when we arrived, but we still admired the bridge.  It was very sturdy.

Maple-leaf viburnum

The Maple-leafed Viburnum were starting to blossom along the trail.

Pink Ladyslippers

As were the Pink Lady Slippers near some of the campsites.

We met David Solek, the Monroe Park Ranger, up at Goat Rock and learned about the history of the park and Monroe's wayward livestock.

The views of the Housatonic River from Goat Rock were great, and there was another breeze.  We enjoyed a picnic lunch, and then shuttled back to Birchbank Mountain.  The number of cars was perfect for the number of hikers, and we arrived just as the thunderstorm warnings were being broadcast.  It pays to start the hike early sometime.

We had 23 people, plus 2 dogs, from Shelton, Monroe, Derby, Milford, Bridgeport, Stratford, and Haddam.  Talk about your Trails Day Tourism.  Everybody enjoyed the challenging hike, but the cold drinks and showers were welcome afterwards. Thanks to everyone who came out or helped.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Sycamore Dr Access - Storm Clean Up

There are a number of neighborhood access trails to Shelton's trail system.  Sometimes these smaller trails don't get as much love and attention as they should because we're focusing on keeping the main trails in good shape; particularly after the nor'easters this spring.

We got a call from a good friend and volunteer that there were 3 blowdowns on the Sycamore Drive Access Trail, and we were able to schedule a mini-work party to clean up the blow downs.

A mini-work party is when more than 1 person shows up.  In this case it was Jim Taradine and Mark Vollaro.  I moved some light branches and offered helpful encouragement like "It looks like you've got that Jim".   Teamwork stuff like that.

Here's Mark and Jim at the end of the second blow down.  The three trees varied in size and difficulty.  The last was a good-sized red oak top that was across the trail. 

Here the guys are after finishing the third blow down. 

The trail is all cleared out and open to the public.  The Sycamore Access trail runs from the dead end of Sycamore Drive to the Recreation Path at Waymarker Post #8.  The Post is on The RecPath near the Hawley Meadow on Lane Street.  It makes a nice loop for people walking around their neighborhood, with open woodlands and gentle grades.

One off-shoot of the trail leads down to a beaver dam on the Far Mill River.  If you're quiet you may see some wildlife or fish rising to the surface.  It makes for a nice walk early in the morning.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Spring Cleaning at Riverview Park

The Bluff Walk at Riverview Park needed some attention this spring.  There were a thick layer of oak leaves on sections of the trail and some storm damage.  Overall though the trail had held up OK through the winter.

The north end of The Bluff Walk is at the Kids Playground.  The south end is by the southern baseball field.

The oak leaves were very thick on portions of the trail, and brush was encroaching in a number of places.

We attacked the trail with a variety of rakes, leaf blowers, chainsaws, hazel hoes, loppers, brushcutters, and other assorted tools.

We also removed some trash and cut out Japanese Knotweed behind the baseball field.  We had to leave early due to impending heavy rain storms.

The Bluff Walk is one of Shelton's Historic Trails with scenic views of the Housatonic River.  It's well worth exploring the next time you're near Riverview Park.

We managed to finish up just has the rain was hitting about 10:30.  Thanks to Jimmy, Jim, Bob, Bill, Mark, Mike, and Terry.  Enjoy The Bluff Walk the next time you're downtown.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Along the "New" Poet Path

The new, easier climb up from Princess Wenonah Drive
Take a stroll along the new and improved Poet Path, a section of the Paugussett Trail. This section of trail was once so bad that at least one hiker said it would have been better to just walk down the road.

Trail benching!
Nothing can be done about the fact that the open space corridor is pretty narrow and that you're never far from houses, but hey, this IS Fairfield County. You've got to expect some of that along a 13-mile trail.

Add caption
What we could do was improve the footing and markings and clean up the place. A lot of people, including a couple crews of high school students, benched the trail into the side of the hill. And the steep trail going up the hill from Princess Wenonah was redesigned with some switchbacks and stairs so the hillside is much easier to going up and down.
A  poet station
And then to give the Poet Path a bit more interest, we installed painted slates with quotes from five poets who have nearby streets named after them.

There are painted rocks near the slates that relate to the poet's quote.

Robert Frost's famous quote

The blue blazes of the Paugussett Trail connect a series of local parks and trail systems, starting with Shelton Lakes to the south, then Indian Well, Birchbank, Webb Mountain, and the Boys Halfway River corridor in Monroe. Until now, the Poet Path section was the part hikers had to just slog through if they wanted to get from Birchbank to Webb Mtn, or if they wanted to hike the entire Paugussett. With the recent improvements, we're hoping that people who live in the neighborhood will start walking and enjoying the path.

Follow the blue blazes
And we hope this encourages more people to hike from Indian Well or Birchbank Mountain through to Webb Mountain Park. Our 2018 Trails Day Hike will be doing just that.

Words of wisdom

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Basil Brook Bypass Blowdown BuckUp and Brushcut

Last month's Nor'easters left many trails around the state a mess.  On Saturday, a number of volunteers, including several high school students, helped out to make the trails more passable and safe.
We had 19 volunteers out at Wesley Drive on Saturday to clear the Basil Brook Bypass with four blowdowns, and trim the brush along the RecPath near the Huntington Woods neighborhood.  A number of high school students were trying to finish out their Community Service Hours for the year and were helping out with trail clearing.

We split up into teams and Jim & Mark went ahead with chainsaws to tackle the bigger blow downs across the trail.  We separate the chainsawing from the non-chainsawing crews for safety's sake.  All the high school students were equipped with a variety of hand tools.

There were a lot of folks out enjoying the RecPath as we worked.  Gaggles of runners, dog walkers, strollers, or bike riders passed us by.

Here's Mike Flament with some of the students cutting small saplings along the Basil Brook Bypass while others raked the storm debris from the trails.

Teams of students worked along the Bypass trail paralleling Basil Brook.

And Basil Brook looked good this morning following the rain the night before.  It was starting to feel like Spring finally.
Mark and Jim cleared the lower blow downs at this location so you can scootch under the tree.  The larger tree was left for another day.  If you're an avid mountain biker you may need to get off your bike to get under this one.

The delicate yellow flowers of the Spice Bush were just blooming along the wetlands and streams.  A sure sign of Spring at last.

Some people had to leave after we finished up the Basil Brook Bypass, but the rest continued to work their way down the RecPath toward Lane Street.  A number of neighbors, including possible this future trails volunteer (gotta start them early), were being pushed along the RecPath from the Land Trust Meadow.

Mark was challenged by one beech tree that still warrented cutting, and even though some perfectly good chainsaws were back at the vehicles, decided to take things into his own hand saw hands.

After a while it was time for a tag-out.
Now it's a challenge and everybody wants to add a little elbow grease.

Eventually the team got it and everyone had a good time dragging it off the RecPath.  This has got to be a lot more fun than a stairmaster for exercise.

There were a lot of pretty flowers along the RecPath near Lane Street just starting to come out.  It's a sign of a good Spring ahead and the start of mowing season.

The Basil Brook Bypass signs were added on Sunday to help people find their way.  Let's hope they last awhile.  In the meantime thanks to all the volunteers that helped out.   So whether you like to hike, run, bike, or take your dog for a walk enjoy the effort it takes to keep the trails clear.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Updates to the Trails Email List

Gmail says we're Spam! That's right, and they've blocked our emails announcing upcoming events and work parties. So we're in the process of migrating over to Google Groups. If you are a member of the old email list and received announcement previously, but do not receive any with the next few weeks, there is something wrong. You may need to check your Spam folder and whitelist the Google Group. Or for some reason Google Groups may have rejected the entry (there were a few). Click this link HERE to request your email address be added.  Also click that link if you're never been on the email list but want to add your name now. Happy Trails!