Sunday, June 13, 2021

Great Views at Great Ledge

On a drizzly Saturday morning 11 volunteers cut and trimmed brush along the RecPath at Great Ledge, while enjoying some great scenery.

The section known as Great Ledge is south of Oak Valley Road and crosses some of the powerlines along Spooner's Swamp.  The combination of wetlands and open sunlight make for some rapid growth out into the RecPath and this is always a section that needs attention.

On the plus side it's really scenic working along all the flowering shrubs.  There's various viburnums, Highbush blueberry, Mountain Laurel, Sweet pepperbush, and others.

Even the Green briar looked good.  

There were a lot of trail users out enjoying the open spaces.

Some of the Highbush blueberry along the RecPath.

We strung out along the trails so that there was adequate room for power tool users and hand tool users to work safely.

Bob & Graham were cleaning up a blowdown with Ralph & Ralph.

Mike and Bill were clearing the edges going south toward Huntington Woods.

Some of Basil Brook Bypass were cleared, especially at the entry points along the powerlines.

Sections of Nells Loop Trail were also cut back and cleared.

The cool, overcast weather made it much easier to work in than last weekend's hot spell.  There are some really scenic areas along Great Ledge.

We got a lot done with a good sized crew.  Thanks to Matt, Bill, Ellen, Ralph, Ralph, Luis, Graham, Bob, Mike, Terry & Mark.  Now, everybody go enjoy the scenery while everything is blooming.












Friday, June 11, 2021

It's Mountain Laurel Time

 The Mountain Laurel are really blooming in Shelton this year.

A combination of rain and early hot weather have produced a bumper crop of Mountain Laurel flowers a little earlier than normal.  The Mountain Laurel is a 15' high shrub and is the Connecticut State Flower.  It's said to like rocky woodlands, which we have a little of in Shelton.

The shrubs out in the open have the most spectacular flowers.

One of the best locations to enjoy the display is along the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path south of Rt. 108.  The RecPath passes thru sort of a tunnel of Mountain Laurel before emerging out into the open areas along the powerlines.  The utility companies trim the trees along the powerlines, but leave the shrubs, which makes for an interesting display.

Other trails to see the Mountain Laurel include Nells Loop Trail, Turkey Trot Trail, and the Paugussett Trail.  Don't wait too long though, it's a short window for this show.





Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Eagle Scout Project: Kevin Wokanovicz Paugussett Improvements

Locations of Trail Improvements
(Meadow Street in upper right corner)

Our trail system has been graced with yet another Eagle Scout project, this one from Kevin Wokanovicz from Troop 27. Kevin improved some low areas just south of Meadow Street in an area we call Wiacek Meadows and Wiacek Woods. The Paugussett Trail between Independence Drive and Meadow Street has a number of poorly drained areas (even on the hills) that have been a challenge to hikers, most of whom are just passing through to get from Shelton Lakes to Indian Well. But the trail has been improving a little at a time. 


Bog Walk just south of Meadow Street

Kevin's first spot is close to Meadow Street in the 'tunnel' where a cul-de-sac was almost built (some grading had been started, which explains the topography). A bog walk now crosses a seasonal mud hole. 


"Before" shot of the first mudhole


Spot 2 is located at the south end of the meadow crossing where the trail crosses an old farmers ditch that ran along the edge of the meadow. The crew installed a culvert and then built a causeway across the ditch and dug through a hump of land on the northern edge. 


An old farmer's ditch was leveled out
with a culvert added for drainage

The third spot was just to the south, where the crews installed a second bog walk over a muddy area. These last two spots are on a fairly recent part of the trail, which was rerouted a few years ago. 

Second bogwalk through the Wiacek Woods


"Before"

Well done!  And we look forward to more Eagle Scout projects along this part of the trail. It keeps getting better.


Friday, May 28, 2021

Helpful Highways & Bridges

Thanks to the Shelton Highways and Bridges Department for constructing new drainage and crushed stone at the new Trails Barn and parking lot at the Dog Park on Nells Rock Road.

 

The City crew added drainage pipes and crushed stone to dry out some chronically wet areas between the existing barn and the new barn.  Water coming off the hillside was running on top of the ledge and breaking out on the surface near the parking lot.  People going to the Dog Park during wet weather would park in the muddy spots during peak times and churn the area up into a muddy mess.  The new crushed stone mat and pipes should improve that considerably.

The Barn Yard's contractor's had finish graded the area around the barn the week before.  The City H&B crew then came in and connected the existing lot with the Barn area.

 
It looks good.

The Shade Garden looks really good next to the Barn.  I didn't fully appreciate that end of the gardens until I started walking around the temporary fence at the Barn site.  It's a great feature to explore if you're walking up the Dog Paw Path.

So, once again, Thank You Shelton Highways and Bridges for a nice job.  We on the Shelton Trails Committee appreciate it.



Saturday, May 22, 2021

Saturday along the RecPath

 Saturday was a good morning along the RecPath.  We met at Shelton Intermediate School, discussed cutting brush and invasive species and headed out.  Some went down to Pine Lake and worked W..  Some headed East from Constitution Boulevard.  The trails were very busy and we ran into a lot of very happy customers.


These guys were great and obviously having a lot of fun.  I think we might have some future trails volunteers here by the look of their checking out the power tools.  There were a lot, lot, lot of families out enjoying the RecPath on Saturday.  It was nice to see.

There was a big patch of Japanese knotweed growing along the East side of Meadow Street that was crowding the RecPath.  Above is a photo near the start of the work party.  I say "was" because it's not there anymore.

It's a lot clearing now.  Trouble is, Japanese knotweed is a VERY persistent invasive species, and it can only be controlled with a lot of repeated cutting and/or herbicide.  We cut what we can, but the City should probably put a bounty on the stuff.  

Along with other invasives like garlic mustard, mugwort, and burning bush.  We could really use neighbors to try to cut this stuff along roadsides where they see it.

One reason the invasive species need to be cut back is to allow native species like Jack-in-the-pulpet, or Cinnamon fern to survive.

 


The Wheeler St. access by the Senior Center & Police Station was cleared out, as was the RecPath to Constitution Blvd., and the Shelton Intermediate School trail. 

All in all it was a productive, and surprisingly hot morning.  It got up to 90 degrees later in the day.  Much too early in the year for that stuff.

So thanks from the Shelton Trails Committee to all our volunteers: Ellen, Betsey, Ralph, Ralph, Bob, Terry, Mark, & Bill.


 





 

 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Spring Brush Cutting

 Ah Spring, the time when everything is flowering and green along the trails.  Including all the invasive species and briars that crowd out native plants and clog the trails.  Time to start cutting things back.  Volunteers started this year's Spring cutting Saturday along the Turkey Trot Trail north of Rt. 108.

About 11 volunteers armed with loppers, hedge trimmers, and brushcutters worked north along the trail taking out briars, burning bush, Russian olive, and other trouble plants along the trails.  Best to take them out now before they start really growing out into the trails.  We left some of the slower growing native plants that don't cause a problem, like Highbush blueberry, for birds and other wildlife.


Ralph and Ellen cutting briars near the junction with Turkey Trot & powerline trails.


 There were thick briars near some of the trail junctions.

A "Before" picture of one stretch of trail going to a small footbridge.  The combination of open canopy along the powerlines and wet areas makes a fertile growing area for some species.

"During" - Matt and other volunteers cut high and low in locations.


The "After" picture has a much clearer trail and we'll be ready for some growth in the coming months without the trail being blocked.

Andrew was using long-handled loppers in many thorny areas.

Ralph was using one other hedge trimmers in other areas.

We also cleared out beech branches and saplings on the Paugussett Trail from the RecPath to the powerlines and along the Turkey Trot Trail.  One area that was focused on was making sure the trail blazes were visible, and that you could see around the inside of curves so the trails were easier to follow.

It was a productive morning and thanks to Ralph, Ralph, Bill, Andrew, Matt, Ellen, Graham, Luis, Bob, Mark, and Terry for helping out.










Friday, April 30, 2021

See Yourself on Our Trail Map

Cell phone screenshot:
Blue dot marked the current location


Did you know that with a free phone app such as the popular Avenza, you can see your current location on some of our official trail maps? The maps this should work on are: 

*Shelton Lakes
*Tahmore/Indian Well
*Means Brook (Nicholdale & Willis Woods)

The reason it works for these particular maps is because they were created using the City's GIS system, which encodes gps location information into the map as it is saved as a pdf file. Our other trail maps are simply pictures, so they won't work in Avenza. 

Our state parks and forest maps are mostly available for this purpose, as are a few other random locations around the state, such as some land trust maps. The above photo is a cell phone screen shot showing our Shelton Lake trail map, zoomed in. The blue dot was my current location at the time. 

Here's how you do it: 

1. Download an app such as Avenza (this seems to be the most popular, and it's free). 

2. To view State Park maps, search for the park by name in the Avenza Store (the maps are free, but you still find them in the Avenza store). 

3. To view Shelton maps, you will need to download them to your phone, since they are not in the Avenza Store, and then open the map using Avenza. Every phone is different, so it's hard to give exact directions. From your phone's browser, visit  http://sheltonconservation.org/recreation/shelton_trails.html and select the map you want. Then look for a way to download and open the map using Avenza. If your phone automatically opens the map in a pdf reader, click the reader menu and look for "open as".  You might also download the map onto your PC and email it to yourself as an attachment, open the email in your phone, then when you click the attachment you may be prompted for what app to use. 

Once you have the map open in Avenza, you can leave pushpin marks or have the app trace your route. This is handy for marking the location of a fallen tree, or to follow your progress. The screenshot of Southford Falls State Park map below shows the point at which I thought I must have passed the trail to the tower and was checking the Avenza map to see if that was the case ...but the trail junction was right up ahead. 

"Did I miss the turn?"
Southford Falls State Park

The map below is a portion of Sleeping Giant State Park zoomed in. This map is especially useful because it's a large park with many trails and also many steep hills and cliffs. The printed map can be hard to read, and typically doesn't show contour lines telling you where the big hills are. Viewed within Avenza, the map was much more informative. For example, it's obvious that the White Trail is going up some steep terrain while the other trails are more gentle. 

Sleeping Giant State Park