2016 Marathon Hike #13: Paugussett Trail North

SUMMARY:  Our Trails Day Hike on June 4 will cover this hike. Lots of natural beauty along the Paugussett at Birchbank and Indian Well! If you want to get away from the crowds, this is the trail for you. It's a moderately difficult hike with hills, a steep section, and an area of large boulders you need to be able to climb around.  So although the hike is about 2.5 miles long (one way), hikers tend to feel like they hiked 4 miles.  We recommend you spot a car at the end of the hike if possible. Note: This designated hike starts at the Birchbank Chimney rather than one of the two commonly used parking areas. This is so hikers can choose their own starting point.

North end of hike Option #1 South end of Round Hill Road (most direct): This is accessed from Longfellow Road, right on Dickenson Drive, left on Little Fox Run, and left on Okenuck Way. Drive all the way to the end of the road at Round Hill Road and there is room for a few cars at the junction of those two roads. The Paugussett Trail goes straight into the woods here. Click HERE for map.

North end of hike Option #2 Birchbank Trailhead (most commonly used): On Indian Well Road, also known as Birchbank Road, 1.9 mile from the junction of Route 110, immediately before the road turns right to cross the railroad tracks. There is a trails sign kiosk at the parking location. Click HERE for map.

South end of hike: Indian Well Falls Parking:  This is the very first parking area you pass after turning onto Indian Well Road from Route 110. There is a brown sign across the street for the waterfalls that reads "NO CLIMBING ON ROCKS." Click HERE to see on Google Maps.

TRAIL ISSUES:  The Indian Well overlook is currently overgrown and the river cannot be seen until either the leaves fall or we manage to have the overlook cleared. 

BLAZE COLOR:  Blue. If you begin your hike at the Birchbank Trailhead, you will start on the White trail.

MAP: A printable map of the Paugussett Trail can be found HERE. A portion of the map with the 2016 Marathon hike highlighted in orange is below (click to enlarge).

DESCRIPTION:  For this hike we will start on Round Hill Road and go south to Indian Well. From the south end of Round Hill Road, at the intersection with Okenuck Way, look for the blue blazes and trail heading south into the woods. After five or ten minutes you should arrive at a flat area an old chimney near Upper White Hill Brook and the junction with the white-blazed Birchbank Trail.  The next half mile of trail was rerouted in the spring of 2016. Follow the blue blazes across the small stream (if it is flooded and you cannot cross, you will need to follow the white blazes up the hill to cross at a bridge).

After crossing Upper White Hills Brook, the blue blazes go right to join with the white-blazed Birchbank Trail as it climbs up the hill alongside the brook, then go left at the "Y" through mountain laurel for a few steps before veering left at an old road.  Look for the remains of an old charcoal-making mound at your feet here. Then the blue blazes veer right to leave the old road and climb the hill gradually to arrive at the scenic overlook of the Housatonic River, recently cleared.

From the overlook, the trail soon descends down a short steep section with stone steps, then more gradually along a new section of trail that was recently benched into the side of the hill. Continue along the high riverbank, crossing an opening where a big underground waterline runs straight up and down the hill. You are now directly above the Birchbank Trailhead.

The next section takes you across a large boulder field. There is mossy rock everywhere! You will need to follow the blazes carefully and pick your way across this section.  After the boulder field, keep an eye out for yellow paint on a tree marking the boundary of Indian Well State Park. If you pass the tree and look behind you, there should be a metal marker for Shelton Public Open Space. This is the half way mark.

Continue on along the trail for a long time through the mossy forest, crossing the occasional stream.  Shortly after crossing a wooden bridge, there will be a white-blazed access trail on the left leading to the Indian Well Beach and off-season parking area, and a wood sign.  Further on the blue/yellow blazes of Tahmore Trail will be on the right, followed by a clear overlook (update: overlook is overgrown. We will be contacting CFPA and the DEEP to see about having that cleared out) of the Housatonic River.

Quickly after the overlook the trail plunges steeply straight down the hill. CFPA is looking at rerouting this section. Use special caution if you hike this in the fall after the oak leaves have started falling. Hike all the way down the hill to Indian Well Road, step over the guard rail (watch out for traffic) and turn right to cross the bridge over Indian Hole Brook. The parking area is across the street, but you may want to walk up the wide trail to see the Indian Well Falls first. This is the trail with the sign that says 'no climbing on rocks', and the falls are about .1 mile up the trail.

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