Monday, November 20, 2017

The "Poet Path"

There's a section of the Paugussett Trail we've nicknamed the "Poet Path" because it's up in the so-called "Poet Section" of the White Hills, where the streets are named after famous poets. A trail as long as the Paugussett needs a lot of place names, whether they are real or invented, so we maintainers can communicate exactly where that new blowdown is that needs a chainsaw.

Click to enlarge
This part of the trail runs through a narrow piece of property held by the Shelton Land Conservation Trust. As a reminder, the Land Trust is a private, non-profit group, and not the City of Shelton. Many people get confused about that. Once upon a time, developers had to donate their open space to the Land Trust because the City didn't have an open space program, and I believe this property is one of those. The property was preserved specifically for the Paugussett Trail. To the north of the Land Trust property, there is a pedestrian easement for the trail (be sure to stay on the trail and respect the property owners if you are hiking there).

The Land Trust references the property as LT#21, but we've been calling it the Lost Poets. Why are the poets lost? Not sure, but it seems like a lot of people driving around that neighborhood are lost. While repairing the steps near Princess Wenonah Drive, cars kept slowing down and stopping. Admiring the work? Nope. Turning around, lost.

The Poet Path skirts the slopes of Round Hill
This trail needs some love. For the most part, it's been a rather ignored connector, used only by people hiking the Paugussett Trail between Webb Mountain and Birchbank Mountain. There are short road walks on either side of it, and it's sandwiched between houses, so people tend to skip this entire section. The lack of foot traffic actually makes the trail harder to follow and maintain, which in turn discourages hikers, so it's a vicious cycle.

The trail has potential though. It can be a nice walk, with seasonal views of the Housatonic River Valley, and during the summer, the houses are barely visible. One of the biggest drawbacks for this section is the footing. There is a long stretch with a pretty good ankle-twisting side-slope because the trail was never benched into the hillside. And then there is the steep climb straight up the hill from Princess Wenonah.  That's a pretty good workout if you're going up. Going down in the fall is something else.  One part has steps, but the rest is so slick with fall leaves you may be tempted to get on your butt and just slide down the trail (the leaves were just removed, so it's OK now).

The trail needs side-hilling
This past year, the blazes were freshened, graffiti removed, steps repaired, and a few very short sections were benched into the hillside. It's a start. This fall, the leaves were blown, which is normally not necessary for a trail, but it really does help with the footing here. Next spring we hope to have some work parties during spring vacation when high school students are available. Stay tuned, because we're going to need a lot of volunteers to get the job done!

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