Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Trail Evolution at Indian Well

Existing and abandoned trails at Indian Well
(click photo to enlarge)

Indian Well has some really difficult terrain sandwiched between the triple attractions of the beach, the falls, and the overlook. That's one reason the trail system has evolved over the years. We recently obtained a copy of a 1966 Indian Well deed map showing the trails existing at that time, and added those trails to a layer of former trails on the City's GIS mapping system. The above map is the result.

The Paugussett Trail originally came in from Rt 110 (Leavenworth Road), at the southwest corner of Indian Well. This was back when the Paugussett crossed the entire city and ended at Roosevelt Forest in Stratford. Southbound hikers followed Leavenworth Road for a bit and somehow ended up near Means Brook Reservoir before turning south towards what is now Aspetuck Village. Subdivisions caused the Paugussett to be abandoned south of Indian Well, however, so the trail between the falls and Leavenworth Road was abandoned.

1966 map
(click photo to enlarge)

The Paugussett originally crossed Indian Hole Brook at the Falls and headed up a very steep slope, but the Park Service asked for the trail to be moved away from the Falls. There were too many problems with visitors exploring the top of the falls and the precipitous north slope, including kids jumping off of rocks into the pool below the falls. The terrain was hazardous. So the trail was shifted to cross Indian Hole Brook on Indian Well Road.

There are a number of old routes going up the hill towards the overlook. That is very steep terrain with slick bedrock just below the surface. After a bit of erosion, the rock would become exposed and was slippery when wet. Hikers sometimes chose to slide downhill on their butts. In 2017, CFPA created an ambitious reroute up the hill that avoided the steep rock. The trail was cut into the side of the hill for easy walking.

There will be more changes in the future. The stepping stones across Indian Hole Brook placed in 2017 washed out, so CFPA is looking at having a pedestrian bridge installed further upstream. And a giant gully is about to destroy the trail just north of the beach access trail, so a reroute will be required there within the next few years. Stay tuned!

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