2016 Marathon Hike #9: Nicholdale Farm

SUMMARY: This loop trail is easy to walk, but is not as well marked as some other trails, and sections can become overgrown in the summer. Update July 12: The trail is fully blazed blue in both directions. There are a number of turns, so hiker must pay close attention to the blazes. 

PARKING: You want the somewhat hidden MAIN LOT (there are two parking lots with signs), located west of house #332 Leavenworth Road.  The hidden drive entrance is between a telephone pole and the beginning of a long guardrail.  If you are driving on Leavenworth Road (Rt 110) west towards Monroe, you will pass Beardsley Orchards then go down the long hill and at the bottom pass the first Nicholdale auxiliary parking area on the left, followed immediately by the pale yellow house at #332. You want the hidden drive on the left just after this house. The drive entrance is located between the telephone pole and the beginning of the guardrail. The drive drops down to the parking area below the elevation of the road and is hard to see. If you get to Nicholdale Road on the right, you've gone too far. Click HERE to see on Google Maps.

TRAIL ISSUES:  As of July 12, the entire trail is blazed and cleared. 

BLAZE COLOR:   Blue (fully blazed only in the clockwise direction as of June 17)

MAP: (click to enlarge).


DESCRIPTION: We are doing this loop clockwise. Be sure you understand the blaze indication for turns: If there are two offset blazes, the higher blaze tells you to look in that direction for a turn. You will need to pay close attention to the blue blazes since there are many paths through this property. The mowed meadow paths only have blazes where there is something to blaze. Otherwise, you may walk a bit without seeing a blaze.

Go to the back left corner of the main parking lot, down the steps, around the gate, and pass the sign kiosk (if this makes no sense, you are at the wrong parking lot).  There will be fresh blue blazes. Follow the old mowed farm road with the highway to your back, and look for the blue blazes to go off to the left under the tall evergreen trees.
You will shortly come to a granite bench next to a wooden bridge over the stream. Cross the bridge and then go left to follow the stream a short ways.

You will come to a junction with an orange-blazed trail at a long, narrow clearing, blocked at one end with a cable. Go left into the clearing and quickly right and you are now heading south along the property perimeter for the next quarter mile (about five or ten minutes). The boundary will be on your left and is often marked with a stone wall or some barbed wire. During this time, you will pass a "Y" with orange blazes (stay left), a wet area with rocks and boards for crossing, another junction with the orange trail, another "Y" (stay left again), and cross a bridge. Come to a corner where two walls meet and pass through one, continuing with the long wall to your left.

The long wall finally ends and the trail curves right to begin heading west along the southern property line. See the giant red oak next to the boulder? As before, you will have a stone wall for much of this section to your left, but the blazes are now orange. [New blue blazes!] Continue down the hill, staying left at the "Y", and then the trail curves again to the right, towards the north. Just before arriving at a grassy area, you may see yellow square blazes going off to the left (these lead to Pearmain Road). Continue on the main trail into the Youth Camp area.

Pass through the middle of the camp, heading north, cross the outhouse and the stream and immediately after the stone wall turn left to follow the southern edge of a big meadow along a mowed path.  At the corner of the meadow, the path bends right to continue along the perimeter of the meadow, now heading north. Continue to the northwest corner of the field, then find a path going into the woods. Cross the rocky occasionally wet area and pass through a stone wall into another field and go straight across the field between the lines of cedars. At the end of the field, curve to the left into the trees, then quickly right to cross a stone wall, and you are now on a grassy farm road in the trees. Go left to follow the road.

Pass the first wood bridge on the right and continue to a small circular meadow, where there will be a second wood bridge and you will be turning towards the north now.

Cross the bridge, go right a few steps, then left at the "Y" to a stone bridge (if that's too wet, go right at the "Y", then left again to pass a couple bat houses to your right).

At the stone bridge, see the little white birch straight ahead with four stems and a blue blaze? Follow the mowed path straight out into the meadow passing to the left of the birch, and then towards the cedar trees and the top of a little knoll. At the top of the knoll you should see the cars on Leavenworth Road (Rt 110). Continue in the same direction towards the highway, to the back of a park sign near the road, then curve right to follow the wide grassy path into the trees alongside the highway, now heading east.

This next section is a bit twisty through the trees.  You will be going east with the highway never far off to your left. From that first grassy path, turn right and down the steep hill, then left to cross bridge.  Duck under a couple leaning cedars, head up the hill towards the highway, and then a sharp right.  A big loop to the left brings you alongside the highway at a stone wall. Cross through the wall to keep the highway on your left, and enter a field within sight of your car. This field can get overgrown. Keep to the left, just a few feet from the stone wall and highway. Bend right around a tree, and pause for a moment. There should be a small wooden bridge a few steps ahead, and if you look to your left, there is a cow underpass. The underpass was constructed for the Nichols family when the highway was built, because it cut through the middle of the farm.

Continue on, keeping to the left, then climb up some stone steps to the parking lot.

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