Friday, July 6, 2018

Survey Leads to Paugussett Improvements at Thoreau Drive

Shelton's northern-most section of the Paugussett Trail
Sometimes you just need to hire a surveyor, and this was one of those times. The City of Shelton owns a 20-foot-wide open space corridor between homes on Thoreau Drive, but no one knew exactly where that corridor was. The open space was preserved as part of the "Blue Dot Preserve" subdivision (pause for the irony), so that the trail could pass from Thoreau Drive (more irony) to Webb Mountain Park.

"Before": Stairs coming down from Thoreau Drive, and survey stake
From Thoreau Drive, hikers descended a set of stairs, then had to cross a lawn area next to a driveway. Many hikers have complained about this section over the years because it felt like they were trespassing through a private yard. It was so uncomfortable for some that they turned around, not daring to cross the lawn.

"After" - Bottom of stairs removed, trail shifted to scrub area
The land survey showed that the bottom of the stairs were right on the property line. So the last seven or eight steps were removed, and the trail was angled down the slope across the 20-foot-wide accessway. Hikers no longer find themselves facing a mowed area at the bottom of the hill.
"Before": At bottom of steps, trail had to cross a mowed area. 
The view above is what confronted hikers for decades. Where is the trail? (It went straight ahead in the photo). More experienced, confident hikers could spot a blaze and just went to it, but most of our hikers lack that experience and didn't know what to do.

"After": At bottom of hill, trail crosses a scrub area. 
Now hikers come to a scrubby area and see an island of trees directly ahead. This feels much better. (It will be even better when the newly defined open space is allowed to grow back into woods.)

"Before": Trail went to the right of the wooded knoll at the edge of the lawn
That island of trees is a low, wooded knoll that couldn't be mowed. The old route headed to the right, following the edge of the lawn here.  The tree island always looked like the better route, but was it open space? The survey showed that part of it was, and it would be feasible to shift the trail into the trees.

"After": Trail goes through the trees now. 
Hikers should feel a lot better about this section of trail now. You're still walking between houses, which isn't great, but at least it no longer feels like you're trespassing. This fall we intend to plant some evergreen trees and shrubs in the mowed areas of the open space, so that should provide more screening for hikers.

"Before": Coming up from Webb Mtn - "Where's the trail?" (Goes to the left)
Here are a couple more "before" and "after" shots, heading up from Webb Mtn. Part of the problem with the former route was the lack of blazes, since there weren't any good trees to blaze. Now, hikers immediately see the blue blaze on the wooded knoll and know exactly where the trail goes.

"After": Easy to see a trail blaze now
Many thanks to Lewis Associates for a great job surveying. They put in some extra pins along the property lines right where they were needed so that we know with confidence exactly where the open space is located.

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