Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Birchbank/Webb Mtn Overlook to Overlook Route

Route from the Birchbank trailhead to Webb Mtn overlook
If you're up for a 5.5-mile hike with lots of ups and downs and two great views, try some version of the Birchbank/Webb Mtn Overlook to Overlook Hike. A one-way version of this hike was offered on Trails Day last June (above map), but requires spotting cars. The version described below is the same except it involved a walk back on a slightly different route.

Birchbank Trailhead on Birchbank Road (aka Indian Well Rd)
Start at the Birchbank Mountain trailhead on Birchbank Road. To get there, head down Indian Well Road one full mile past the Indian Well beach entrance. Follow the white blazes until the white trail splits, with one option being a left turn up the hill. Take the left past an overlook of the beautiful water slides of Upper White Hills Brook until you reach a junction with the blue/white connector trail. Go left on that up the hill pretty steeply at times until you reach the blue-blazed Paugussett and take a right. Soon you'll arrive at the first overlook, about 350 feet higher than where you started.

Birchbank Overlook. 
Be sure to sign the trail register and read some of the entries while you catch your breath.

"The Chimney" along Upper White Hills Brook
Continue following the blue blazes north down the hill, crossing Upper White Hills Brook at the chimney that was formerly part of a Rod and Gun Club.

A nice walk through Birchbank
It's a fairly easy walk through a nice part of Birchbank and then you'll come out onto the junction of Round Hill Road and Okenuck Way (a road). Follow the blue blazes  left onto Okenuck Way and then right onto a road called Boulder Path. It's not long.
Okenuck Way blazes on phone pole indicate a right turn ahead
At the end of Boulder Path, cross Princess Wenonah Drive and head up the new stairs to the Poet Path.

New steps on the Poet Path

Poet Path slates
There are five painted slates with sayings from five poets whom streets in the area are named after, along with some painted rocks below that relate to the sayings. Take time to enjoy the trail art. Leave some painted rocks behind if you're so inclined.

The Poet Path
The Poet Path squeezes between houses that look pretty close together on a map, but the terrain is such that you often can't see the houses up above, and the houses below are pretty far down through the trees.

Road Walk sign
As you approach Thoreau Drive, the trail follows a narrow pedestrian easement on private property and the houses feel a lot closer. A sign gives you a description of the second road walk (both road walks are about 0.3 mile long). When you get to Thoreau Drive, take a right and follow the blazes on phone poles and curbs.

Thoreau Drive road walk
It's not a bad road walk along a very quiet street. Enjoy the change of scenery, and be on the lookout for the double blazes indicating a left turn (a sign will be added soon to make this easier to find). As always, if you stop seeing blazes, back track until you find them and try again. The trail goes down the hill between houses #178 and #182.

Going down from Thoreau Drive 
This section squeezes between houses in a narrow open space corridor that is only 20 feet wide. The City recently had it surveyed and a part of the trail turned out to be on one of the neighbor's property, so it was shifted back into the open space. Sadly, the neighbor on the other side was unhappy about that and has been causing a lot of problems for the trail. We're working on that. In the meantime, just follow the blue blazes and rest assured you are on Shelton Public Open Space property.

Follow the blue blazes between two houses. 

Once past the houses, you decide quickly into a deep hemlock ravine and cross Round Hill Brook. Hey, Scouts, we could use a bridge! If the water is high, this may be impassible. Now you're in Monroe. Once across, you will be leaving the blue blazed Paugussett Trail.

Tributary of Round Hill Brook

Follow the unmarked (but well-worn) path along a tributary of Round Hill Brook, going upstream, until it becomes orange blazed, and then follow the orange blazes across the tributary on a new bridge.

New new bridge
Once across the bridge, follow the red blazes uphill. You'll pass a campground.

Webb Mountain campground
Backpackers can camp here, but you need to obtain a permit for $10 a night from the Town of Monroe. Continue uphill on red, crossing the park road, until you get to the huge boulder and junction with the violet trail. Turn right to follow the violet blazes.

Turn right onto Violet
And there is very soon a great view of the Housatonic River from Goat Rock. Enjoy!

Goat Rock - Webb Mtn Overlook

An unmarked trail goes down the backside of Goat Rock for some alternative views.

Goat Rock
When you're ready to head back, retrace your steps. If you want to vary your route, you can take a left off of Thoreau Drive at Rodia Ridge, but it's a pretty long road walk that way. But maybe you'll luck out and stumble upon a lemonade stand like I did. Rodia Ridge bends to the right eventually and become Princess Wenonah, so you just follow it until you see Boulder Path on the left and go that way.

Rodia Ridge Road, an alternate route
Back at Birchbank, it's easiest to take the first left onto the white-blazed Birchbank Trail and follow that along Upper White Hills Brook as the stream descends through first a small gorge, and then a series of falls, slides, and chutes.

Upper White Hills Brook
Follow the white blazes across a Scout bridge and then down the old road through the flood plain.

Upper White Hills Brook
There used to be a ton of spring wildflowers here, but the flowers are in decline from too many deer.

Lower part of Birchbank
Here are a couple maps you should have if you do this hike:

No comments:

Post a Comment