Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Our Favorite Walks Part 4: Bill Dyer

This post is part of a continuing series describing the Trails Committee members favorite jaunts along Shelton's thirty miles of trails. There are many types of trails located across the city, from the handicapped-accessible Rec Path to the rugged Paugussett Trail. 

Boehm Pond
by Bill Dyer

In the past 25 years Shelton has acquired considerable Open Space, either by purchase or via the Open Space provisions of the subdivision development regulations. It is not surprising that on much of the open space property there are existing paths created by deer, local residents and even old roadbed created centuries ago and subsequently abandoned. The Trails Committee has taken advantage of these paths and roadbeds when available and often created new paths to provide loops and connectivity to other acquired parcels. An example of this is the Boehm Pond Trail off Far Mill Street and Winthrop Woods Road.

Crossing Boehm Brook
The original 31 acre parcel on Far Mill Street had some walking paths that a local resident volunteered to maintain in terms of removing fallen branches and cutting back briars. However he requested help from the Trails Committee, especially with treefall removal and trail marking. When I first went on this trail I missed the hairpin turn at the southern end of the path and ended up in a resident’s back yard on Copper Penny Lane. By expanding the trail width and the proper blazes, we solved that problem. We created a marked return to the parking area (the white blazed trail) and subsequently a second loop (yellow blazes) on the east side of the property.
Trail Map - click to enlarge

When a builder acquired the property at the dead end of Winthrop Drive and extended it to Farm Mill Street, designating it Winthrop Woods Road, the City received 20 acres of Open Space contiguous to the original parcel, including Boehm Pond and a pedestrian easement to Boehm Circle. We could now extend the trail (blazed red) across Winthrop Woods Road to Boehm Pond. Last year we extended the trail to provide access to Boehm Circle and the local residents in that area.

Several years ago we built a pedestrian bridge across the outflow stream from Boehm Pond to facilitate getting to the Boehm Pond side of Winthrop Woods Road. After a major rainstorm, the bridge was washed about 20 yards downstream, caught up on some rocks and trees. Fortunately it was not damaged and we could retrieve it with ropes and drag it back to the proper stream crossing location. However this time we made a pier of rocks on both sides of the stream, thus raising the bridge a foot higher than before and attached a steel cable to the bridge and a nearby tree just in case this was not high enough. So far so good for the bridge.

Volunteers hauled the washed out bridge back up the hill
We have a trained chainsaw crew among our ranks that can tackle most major treefalls across our trails. One such occurred on the Boehm Pond Trail in the area just before the pedestrian bridge when a huge live tree fell across the path. The portion covering the trail was about 30 inches in diameter and maybe 12 feet from the massive root ball now sticking out of the swamp. Richard Skudlarek (who met his future wife working on the trails) agreed to use the chainsaw and I was there to assist. Due to the size of the tree, he had to cut it from both sides of the trail, crawling under it to do so. When he finished the first cut on the side of the root ball, a strange and scary event occurred. While the weight of the entire tree toppled the tree, once the weight of most of the tree was removed by the cut, the 12 foot tree stump slowly rose to a vertical position and the root ball fell back into place. Very eerie! Another cut of the remaining horizontal tree and the trail was reopened for business.

This massive trunk as it was starting to rotate back to the upright position
In the past several months, Boehm Pond has become the home to some new residents, namely beavers. They have built a 50 foot long crescent shaped dam 4 feet high near the stream underpass of Winthrop Woods Road backing up the water and greatly expanded the size of the pond. The dam is easily seen from the road and notice the stumps of trees that the beavers cut. The pedestrian bridge on the upstream side of the original pond is now underwater, as is much of the land next to the path on that side of Winthrop Woods Road. So far the path is totally dry and no man-made structures or septic systems are threatened. When you follow the red path where it splits to the left toward the water, look slightly to the right to see two parallel yellow blazes on a tree which was on the original pond bank.

Beaver have recently enlarged the pond

I highly recommend this trail, which is the only one located on the west side of Shelton. It is far from all major roads so that once in there you can’t hear any traffic noise. The two clearly marked loops, white and yellow, and the red path that leads to Boehm Pond and Circle are easy to follow. While the trail footing is generally good, in the spring there may be some muddy spots and there are lots of rocks and tree roots in the paths, so I recommend hiking boots. The addition of the beavers adds to the other woodland creatures that one often encounters. Each season has its own features of plants, flowers and animals. Parking is available across from 98 Far Mill Street and at the road stream crossing near 64 Winthrop Woods Road. Enjoy!

1 comment:

  1. Good photo of Polly & Teddy, and thanks for the fine history of Boehm Pond too. Now all we need are some pictures of the beavers. Nice job Bill