SUMMARY: This scenic loop starts at the Dog Park and features Hope Lake and Eklund Garden by way of four different trails: Dog Paw Path, Rec Path, Flower Path, and the Paugussett Trail. Each path is marked with a different color blaze. ***You will need to pay very close attention to the blazes painted on the trees - there are no signs directing you which way to go.***
PARKING: Shelton Dog Park. #320 Nells Rock Road, near junction with Shelton Avenue. Parking gets crowded at peak times.
TRAIL CONDITIONS: Eklund Garden is at its best in July when many of the flowers are in bloom. NOTICE: Trails under the electric towers at Shelton Lakes will be sporadically closed between July 20 and August 26 as crews work on the towers. Closures are most likely Monday - Friday 7 am to 5 pm, but could occur at other times if there are weather delays.
1. Dog Paw Path: Dark green square with white paw prints
2. Rec Path - None (this is a wide, gravel path)
3. Flower Path - Red square with white flower
4. Paugussett Trail - blue rectangles
SHORT HIKE DESCRIPTION (Condensed version for advanced hikers): Dog Paw path starts at the back of the dog park heading southwest, blazed with dog paw prints. Follow to a "T" with the Rec Path, go right and continue to the big silver gate. Go left on the Flower Path, red blaze with white flowers. Cross Oak Valley Road and come to the back gate of Eklund Garden. Walk through the garden area to the front gate and exit. You are now on the blue-blazed Paugussett Trail. Follow the blue blazes along the shoreline of Hope Lake, cross the Rec Path, and then take a right on the Dog Paw Path to get back to your car.
FULL HIKE DESCRIPTION: From the parking lot at the Dog Park, look for the Dog Paw Path entering the woods to the right side of the dog park. It's marked with painted blazes on the trees that are dark green squares with white dog paw prints. Follow these blazes very carefully so you don't take a wrong turn, passing the junctions with the blue trail and the blue/white trail, and the trail will end before too long at the Rec Path. Turn right onto this big wide gravel path (not blazed) and follow it for about a quarter mile or more, going under the powerlines, through the woods, then bearing left with the trail (white-blazed Oak Valley Trail goes right), then arrive at the Silver Metal Gate and the Flower Path.
At the Silver Gate, look for red blazes with a white flower going off uphill to the left. At first, you will also see the white rectangles of Oak Valley Trail next to these blazes as the trail climbs through the mountain laurel and crosses the powerlines, but the Flower Path blazes soon veer to the right and cross paved Oak Valley Road. Continue around a Vernal Pool that is seasonally full of wood frog tadpoles and salamanders, then arrive at the back gate of Eklund Garden.
Enter through the Eklund Garden gate (please be sure to shut the gate so deer don't get in) and you are now on the blue-blazed Paugussett Trail. After a few steps you should see the Eklund sign kiosk and the garden up the hill. All the plantings are native to the greater Northeastern U.S. The stone ruins are what's left of the Eklund home, built on the hillside during the Great Depression. Explore the garden, then exit through the front gate beyond the kiosk.
Follow the blue-blazed Paugussett Trail across Oak Valley Road and down to Hope Lake and be sure to go left on the low boardwalk around the end of the lake with the blue trail, then right after the wooden bridge. You could follow these blue blazes all the way to Monroe, but today we are just following them along the shoreline of Hope Lake. When you finally get to the far end of the reservoir at the dam, the trail leaves the reservoir, crosses the gravel Rec Path, then intersects with the Dog Paw Path near your starting point. Turn right onto this path to return to your car.