Wednesday, December 10, 2014

New Shelton Lakes Garden Kiosk

The latest Eagle Scout kiosk, courtesy of Bryce Gallagher (Troop 19), is located off of Soundview Avenue and was built primarily for the Shelton Lakes Community Garden, but since this is a backdoor access to the Shelton Lakes trail system, it also functions as a trail kiosk. One side has general information posted about the open space and the community garden, while the other side is for garden communications. We'll be able to post information about whatever garden pest is currently causing a problem, for example.  Also, hikers wandering about the trail system sometimes emerge from the forest and wonder where they are. This kiosk can help them.  Bryce also donated $121.25 to our fund for Scout projects. Nice job!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The Pearmain Path

Nicholdale Farm (Land Trust) and the new trail to Pearmain Rd.
Some years ago, the City of Shelton was awarded a grant from the State of Connecticut to purchase the developments rights for a wooded property just south of the Land Trust's Nicholdale Farm. The grant included a right, yea, a requirement even, for the City to construct a public hiking trail through the property from the Scout camp at Nicholdale Farm to Pearmain Road, closely following the Iroquois gas pipeline.  Somewhere through the sands of time, the trail requirement was lost, and only became known again when the State called and asked about it. Long story short, we now have a new trail.

The trail starts at the Nicholdale Scout Camp. We'll begin our tour by looking at the new outhouse there, because it's a fine looking outhouse. It was an Eagle Scout project, and here's a link to a picture of the construction, although I don't have the names of those involved.

New facilities at the Scout Camp

This is pretty luxurious compared to what was here before. 

Scout Camp at Nicholdale
There is a loop trail that passes right through the middle of the Scout camp, and one simply follows that a very short ways south out of the camp looking for the yellow square blazes that mark the new trail veering off to the right while the Nicholdale trail curves left. The yellow squares quickly crosses over the stone wall that marks the end of Nicholdale Farm and you are now entering private property.

The beginning of the yellow squares that lead to Pearmain Road
CAUTION:  Hunting is allowed on this property, and there are signs on the trail saying so.  Wear bright colors, especially if it's hunting season, you are hiking within a few hours of dawn or dusk, and it's a Saturday. Hunting is allowed on many of the properties that surround the Nicholdale Farm property, and property lines are not always easy to identify (for hikers or hunters), so it's safest to always just wear bright colors in the fall. 

Wear bright colors, like this "blaze orange" fleece jacket from Cabelas.
The trail is only about a quarter mile long. It's still a bit rough and needs more clearing for sight lines, but it's good enough to follow for now.  The trail follows the Iroquois Gas Pipeline, staying just far enough from the pipeline to avoid thickets and bad footing.

Follow the yellow squares.

After a couple of stream crossings (bridges will be needed), the trail pops out onto Pearmain. This road is paved coming in from Birdseye Road, but the last 200 yards before the trailhead is a compacted crushed stone. It's good enough for regular cars, but you might think it's a driveway, especially since you pass through a gate (apparently always open) where the pavement ends. After the trailhead and the gas pipeline, the road is extremely rough and suitable only for 4WD vehicles with insane drivers. It's a City road, and we aren't sure what the story with the gate is, but it probably has to do with attempts to stop illegal dumping vs the need for property owners to access their land.

Pearmain Road at the trailhead.
There is room to park where the gas pipeline crosses Pearmain, assuming that gate is open. Note that there were several large pickups parked there today with hunters. Don't forget to wear those bright colors!

Will anyone want to hike out to Pearmain? Only time will tell. You can actually continue walking south on Pearmain Road because it's certainly not fit to drive on. Long range plans have included a possible regional trail that would encompass this route. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

New Trail

New Trail

Work was completed on a new bypass trail, providing an alternate passage from Shelton Ave. and Constitution Ave. North to the walkway behind Shelton Intermediate School, which in turn connects with the Shelton Lakes Recreation Path. This is a short (¼ mile), pleasant, wooded trail that avoids walking along the edge of Constitution Blvd. Since it ultimately meets up with the Rec Path, a circular hike can be made from the dog park via the new trail, turning left at the rec path, following it to Silent Waters, then over to the dog park.

Click on photos to enlarge

New trail in blue

 Steele, Sam and Cameron open up the new path

 Lynn gets down to details

Lots of fallen trees and debris had to be moved out of the way. Jacob muscles a log aside

Richard cuts through one of many fallen trees across the trail

Luis kept busy cutting away at stray branches

Work was interrupted by the appearance of a water-breathing dragon!

Whew! It was only the fire-fighting rig from Echo Hose, practicing on what they thought was an empty patch of forest, unaware of our work party. Fortunately, their target was not close to our trail and no one got soaked

 Sometimes the chainsaw was coupled with brute force

 Dave and Bill get down to earth to cut off small tree stubs

Sam, Steele and Cameron stroll down the newly finished trail

Many thanks to volunteers Steele, Sam, Cameron, Dave, Luis and Jacob for helping Trails Committee members Lynn, Jim, Richard and Bill and our photographer Sandie.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New Open Space - The Kassheimer Property

Map showing the new property relative to the Rec Path
On October 9,  The Board of Aldermen approved the purchase of 7.3 acres of land owned by the Kassheimer family for $70,000.  The Conservation Commission had pursued the property for many years because it is almost completely surround by public and private open space, and impacts the view along the    Rec Path.  The property features an impressive cliff face along a ridge known as "Great Ledge."

Scenic cliffs. The "gap" is in the right center of the photo.
The conservation land to the west is owned by Aspetuck Village (private). To the north and east is City of Shelton Public Open Space. To the south is the ongoing Huntington Woods development, and the Conservation Commission had some concerns over the years that the development might be extended into the Kassheimer property via Crab Apple Circle, and disrupt the view along the Rec Path.  With this purchase, the entire Great Ledge ridge will be protected from development. (Read about the previous purchase Great Ledge Purchase).

Kassheimer property at the bottom of the ridge
The area is challenging but rewarding to bushwhack across.  From the Rec Path, the easiest way to access the property is probably at the hair-pin turn just south of the powerlines.  From this point, you can head straight towards the cliff through pepperbush. It looks swampy, but I was able to walk through without my feet getting wet. Turn left at the base of the cliff and you are entering the Kassheimer property.  There is a gap between cliffs on the Kassheimer property where one can climb up to the top of the ridge. The top of the cliff is fairly open and there are game trails that are easy to walk along, and in places you can see the Rec Path through the trees.  

Impressive rock face

View from a gap in the cliffs

At the top of the cliff

Looking down the gap between cliffs
You could also try your luck by climbing up the ridge from the north at the powerlines.  There is lose rock and plenty of mountain laurel, but the occasional random path as well. Maybe some day there will be a trail in there, but the Trails Committee is stretched pretty thin just now.

The Great Ledge ridge extends northeast and end at the powerlines

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Moonlight Meander

A high turnout made our annual moonlight hike a notable success this month. Our group consisted of 33 adults, one 3rd Grader, and 11 dogs of assorted breeds (this count did not include any chipmunks or black bears that may have discreetly followed).

Click on photos to enlarge

We gathered just before dark at the Real Estate Two parking lot and were pleasantly surprised at the large turnout. Many of the hikers were first-timers to any of our trail events
Posing for a group photo was a challenge, what with the diminishing daylight and the cheap camera
Terry, our cruise director, led the way along the Rec Path, through the meadow and woods to the turn-around point at the power lines. Fortunately, he also knew the way back

The main attraction
Somehow, we made it back without loosing anyone (at least no "missing persons" reports were filed!)
The route. The round trip, start to finish, was 3.5 miles, slightly uphill on the way out, but of course downhill on the return

We concluded that this year's moonlight hike was a notable success, judging from the positive feedback by many of the participants. Your Trails Committee members guiding this outing were chairman Bill, Lynn, Sandie, Terry, and Richard. Check the "Hikes and Special Events" page on the left of this blog for upcoming neat stuff. And we won't turn away anyone volunteering to help us maintain these trails, either. Our work parties are listed under "Work Parties & Meetings" in the same area.

Friday, October 10, 2014

New Paugussett Kiosk on Buddington Rd

The Paugussett trailhead on Buddington Road
Here is the 25th Eagle Scout project for our trails, courtesy of Mark Sullivan: a new kiosk for the Paugussett Trail on Buddington Road. That trailhead has been difficult to find for many people, but it should be pretty easy to spot now. This location marks the southern terminus of the trail, which extends north through Shelton Lakes, Indian Well State Park, Birchbank Mountain, and Webb Mountain before heading up to an overlook of Lake Zoar, then turning south to follow Monroe's Boys Halfway River down to East Village Road. The total journey is about 13 miles.   Here's the trailhead location on Google Maps

Mark also somehow managed to breakup a pile of solidified road millings and spread it around the parking area. We aren't sure how this was accomplished, because the pile was like a rock, having partly melted in the hot sun. 

Installing the kiosk roof
 Unlike our other kiosks, the contents will be determined by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA), who manages the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System.  The Paugussett extension/restoration project completed by city volunteers was accepted by CFPA just last year, and now shows up on CFPA interactive trail map

Mark Sullivan
  We especially like the routered sign placed across the top of the kiosk with the name of the trail. Nice job!

Routered sign at the top

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Shelton Day 2014

It turned out to be a pleasant day for a street fair, and the Shelton Trails Committee was ready with our handouts, trails-wise attendants, Pedro the Jackalope, and a Piñata raffle.

Click on photos to enlarge

Sandie sets up our displays and handouts while Bill checks out the butterfly piñata to be raffled  
Lynn, Terry, Jim, and Bill await the throngs. We started early! 

New for us this year was a raffle. The butterfly pictured was filled with almost 7 lbs. of candy! For the record, the lucky winner was Sue
Pedro, our resident jackalope, was a hit with the kids and curious adults

 Lynn's mini-pooches were on hand to provide cuddling practice for many of the kids that passed by. Lynn also provided rub-on tattoos for the children

Sheri answered questions and provided directions to the many people that stopped by
Bill and Richard take their turns minding the store

We had a great time, met and hopefully assisted lots of folks, and added an impressive number of names to our list of those interested in our activities and work parties.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's Baaaack!

A few years back, an anonymous party left a nice bench at the Rec Path parking area On Constitution Blvd. Your Trails Committee decided to place it next to the bridge overlooking the Silent Waters reservoir, where it provided a place to relax with a great view. It was enjoyed by many, but trusting as we were, we did not secure it. Vandals eventually decided it would be fun to deprive the public of a rest area and tossed it over the bridge. Fortunately, it landed in some heavy brush below, and we were able to retrieve it and keep it from harms way until it could be replaced.

Last Saturday we were able to restore and secure the bench. Hopefully, folks will get to relax and enjoy the scenic view and the goons will stay away. If you should see anyone tampering with this or any other trail items, please notify the police.

Click on photos to enlarge

Trails Committee members Jim, Terry, and Richard position the bench.

Rich digs one of the holes for the bench leg bases.

Rocks! Official New England crop! Terry helps open the hole.
Jim aligns the steel bar that will anchor the bench in concrete.
Terry adds water to the cement mix.

The bench is restored and ready for the next weary hiker!