Sunday, November 27, 2016

We Flew the Coop!

It's all over....the ginormous turkey (turkeys can get frostbite???), Cousin Helga's cornbread stuffing, Uncle Fred's homemade wine (rough and feathery, with a slight, but heady, acorn bite), the endless football games, and a restful snooze. How to recuperate? We tramped the Turkey Trot Trail 2 mile loop! 

 Click on photos to enlarge 

We gathered at the Shelton Intermediate school, 13 hardy souls and 4 fur persons

Eager to get going

Terrance, our beloved leader, leads from the back

Break time at end of an uphill climb
Enjoying a breather

On the bridge at the Silent Waters dam. This is always a picturesque spot to take in the view
We made it! No loss of life or limb. Missing from photo (but not missing in action), Teresa, Richard, and 2 of the pooches

Saturday, November 26, 2016

New Sign: Paugussett & Tahmore Junction

Inscription on bottom of sign:
"To Dad from Emma Christmas 2015"
It's been about a year since Terry & Teresa Gallagher (me) became the CFPA Trail Managers for the Paugussett Trail from the Monroe line to the falls at Indian Well, including the side loop called Tahmore Trail. For Christmas last year, our daughter Emma routered a new sign for the trail junction between the Paugussett and Tahmore and gave it to her dad.

"Help, I nailed my forehead to the sign and I can't get up!"
Terry loved the sign so much, he didn't want to install it right away because he enjoyed looking at it in the living room. And then when the trees leafed out last summer, we discovered that the old overlook was completely overgrown in the summer. Can't see a thing. And the sign claims there is an overlook to the right in 0.1 mile. So we delayed the sign installation, but contacted CFPA and the park staff at Indian Well State Park to see about getting the overlook view restored. It looks like we can get that done next spring, along with some other major trail improvements and reroutes there at Indian Well, thanks to a grant awarded to CFPA from the new REI store in Milford. So we went ahead and installed the sign after the leaves fell.

Now you know where you are. 
That's a busy section of trail, with lots of people parking down on Birchbank Road and hiking up to the overlook. No one ever carries a map and we get lots of questions about the trails while we're up there, so it's a great place for a sign. While Terry was installing the sign, I blew the leaves off that section of the Paugussett, which is really treacherous going down hill this time of year due to the slippery oak leaves. Hopefully next year well have a more sane route going up the hill and that won't be necessary.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Scenes from the Trails Marathon

We are really enjoying the photos that people are sharing of their adventures while completing the 2016 Shelton Trails Marathon. Hope you enjoy them, too. Email photos to 

Hike #1 Rec Path
(submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike #2 Gristmill Trail
(Submitted by Holly E. Smalley)
Hike #3 Oak Valley Trail
(Submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike #4 The Bluff Walk at Riverview Park
(Submitted by Holly E. Smalley)

Hike #4: The Bluff Walk, Fort Hill Pootatuck Indian marker
(Submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike #5: Nells Rock Trail
(Submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike #6: Dog Paw & Flower Path
(Submitted by Teresa Gallagher
Hike #7: Turkey Trot Trail
(Annual Turkey Trot Trek)

Hike #7 Turkey Trot Trail/Rec Path/Paugussett
(Submitted by Holly Smalley)

Hike #8 Boehm Pond
(Submitted by Holly E. Smalley)

Hike #10 Birchbank Trail
(Submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike # 11 Tahmore Trail
(Submitted by Holly E. Smalley)
Hike #12 Paugussett Trail South at "Four Corners"
(Submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike #13 Paugussett Trail North, Birchbank Overlook
Sandie Skudlarek

Hike #13: Paugussett Trail North (Indian Well State Park)
(Submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike #13: Paugussett Trail North at "The Boulders"
(submitted by Kristine Lucker)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Cool Fall RecPath Saturday; Working and Walking

It was a bit cool when we started work along the Recreation Path on Saturday, but after a while we warmed up and more and more people came out.  Here's Jim trying to sweet talk a few patrons into clipping some briars.  In this case Polly was out with a walk with her grandsons looking for her gallivanting husband.

We were cutting back the shoulders of the RecPath between Pine Lake on Rt 108 and Constitution Boulevard North, blowing out leaves, chopping brush, and other not-so-fun-but-must-be-done maintenance tasks.  And along came a number of members of a hiking club (tourists) enjoying Shelton's trails on a sunny Saturday morning. They thought they would enjoy a quiet Fall walk, but little did they know that they would enjoy the sound of leaf blowers and brushcutters of a trail work party.

We had a good turn-out of volunteers.  Here's Susan clearing out a big section of the RecPath above Meadow Street.  She wasn't making any noise.  We had a lot of help but this section of the RecPath was cleaned up today.

The access trail from Wheeler Street was particularly overgrown.

This is the access gate opposite the Senior Center and the Police Station.  You could barely tell there was a trail there.

But thanks to Sheri and Michael, after a few hours of cutting and hauling, you can tell there's a trail now.  With easy, convenient access to Pine Lake and the RecPath.

And Pine Lake was beautiful this morning.

Curtis Brook was almost glowing in the sunlight coming thru the beech trees below the dam.

There were a number of folks out using the RecPath and the surrounding Greenway this morning.  We got a number of compliments on how well the volunteers were maintaining the RecPath.

Polly never did find Bill, who was looking for Luis, but Jim found Bill, who eventually tracked down Luis, who was headed back to his car.  It's amazing how hard it is to find somebody when and where you want them some days.  But thanks to Chris, Susan, Stan, Luis, John, Michael, Sheri, Jim, Bill, and Terry for helping out today.

Saturday, October 29, 2016


I finished the last of my hikes to complete the Shelton Trails Marathon Challenge on Saturday; Birchbank Mountain, and the Missing Link portion of the Recreation Path.  If you go to the Trails Marathon page you can see the other people who completed the hikes, along with all the other information on the various parks and trails.

Completed 13 Hikes for 26.2 Miles.  It sounds like a lot, but a few trails here and a few hikes there, and it gets covered.

 It was beautiful Fall weather in the woods.  The sun was shining through the Beech leaves.

There wasn't a ton of water in Upper White Hills Brook, but it was nice out none the less.

The view of the Housatonic River from the Paugussett Overlook was splendid.

After finishing Birchbank Mountain I headed over to the RecPath and walked the Missing Link from Constitution Blvd N. down toward the schools.  It was a peaceful stroll along Curtis Brook.

There was even a Fall baseball game going on at the High School.  Wonder who thought they were the Cubs and who were the Indians.

The RecPath was much busier than Birchbank Mountain.  Folks were walking dogs, running, strolling, or just out for a nice afternoon with the family.

Everybody was enjoying the October sun, even this little garter snake near Pine Lake.  Enjoy the Fall weather.

The Shelton Trails Marathon has been a great way to explore new trails and open spaces around town. There's still plenty of time to get your walks in.  Just download the form on the Marathon page, check off which hikes you did, and earn a one-of-a-kind medal suitable for jackets, packs, or whatever you want to put it on.  You can also join us for the guided hike on the Turkey Trot Trail on Thanksgiving Weekend - see the Events page for more info.

Now, I wonder how many other people on the Conservation Commission, Trails Committee, or the other City boards are close to finishing the Marathon?

Saturday, October 22, 2016

A Rainy Fall Walk along the RecPath

A series of rain storms helped cancel Saturday's work party, but a break in the cloud warrented a hike on the RecPath.  Got to finish the Shelton Trails Challenge.

I started today's walk in late afternoon, at the lower Wesley Drive crossing.

It was a moody, grey day, but you can see some things if you pay attention to the leaves around you.

The RecPath at the Lane St. Fire Access road had a variety of Tulip, beech, maple, and some other funny leaf.

A really long, sharp- toothed American Chestnut leaf.  It's very distinctive along the RecPath, once you start to look for it.

Other things started to jump out in the grey light, like this Mockernut Hickory.

The RecPath curved in and around trees, dipped into channel, over bridges, with some nice overlooks of Basil Brook.

There was some Witch Hazel in flower near the upper Wesley Drive crossing.  One of the only shrubs to flower in the Fall.  This one's yellow leaves were gone, but the flower's were still there.  Witch Hazel bark and roots are used as a medicinal astringent for a variety of medical treatments.

There was more Witch Hazel near Great Ledge and Oak Valley Road further up the RecPath.  It really stands out this time of year if you know what to look for.

There was also a lot of deep red - purple Maple Leafed Viburnum along the Path.  There were still a few of the purple berries left that the birds had missed so far.

Sadly, some of the ash trees above Lizard Head Rock and Crabapple Drive were dying.  You could see the dead tops and then looking lower you could see the distinctive bark.

The bark is gone from "blonding"; the loss of the bark from woodpeckers searching for bugs in the dying trees.

So whether its from Emerald Ash Borers, some fungus, or some other blight we are losing a lot of our ash trees almost overnight.

When you've seen one you start looking along along the Path and you'll see a number of sick ash trees that are under attack.

But then you come to other old friend, like the knobby maple tree,
near the turtle pond and they seem to be doing OK.

This Red Maple has been around for a while and has the bumps and lumps to prove it, but it keeps going on and is in a scenic spot near the gas pipeline crossing.

There are some surprisingly picturesque spots when you come out onto the powerlines.  There is a very colorful shrub community that grows under full sunlight without the shadowing of tress along the powerlines.

The RecPath winds through wetlands along Spooner Swamp and around the power towers near Great Ledge.

All that left of the Sweet Pepperbush are the little pepper seeds.

On the other hand the Winterberry looks like it will have a bumper year and the leaves are still all green along Spooner Swamp.

Further up, the oaks start to take over near appropriately enough Oak Valley Lane.

The RecPath winds along as it crosses a couple of driveways and parallels Oak Valley Road before heading North toward the Dog Park.  It was a pretty walk that demonstrated that even on a rainy grey day there were new things to see.  You just have to look around you and ask yourself what am I  looking at?  Fall is a time of change, but it won't last forever.  Try to find the time to enjoy it.