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.


  1. My advice is to do this hike when it is very dry and to take a stout hiking stick to help you across the stream crossings.