Saturday, December 31, 2016

We Have a McLeod

The Shelton Trails Committee recently obtained a McLeod.

No,  no, not this McLeod.  Although a marshal with a horse might be helpful for keeping ATVs off trails.  We were looking for a more cutting edge McLeod.

No, not that McLeod either.  Even though the Highlander does have a cutting edge, that's not the one we're looking for.  There can be only one.

That's the beastie.  It's got big teeth on one side and large hoe-like blade on the other.  One's good for ripping up roots and duff and the others good for digging in sidehills (best in gravel) and smoothing out the tread.  It's mostly used out west to control forest fires, but we're trying it out in Shelton for trail construction.

It digs pretty good when benching into hillsides; like at the recent Bluff Walk Re-Route at Riverview Park.  It has trouble if there's too many roots or rocks, but it can be pretty handy in some situations.  It's kinda a super hoe/rake for the woods.  Maybe we'll get a chance to use it this Spring on some of the trail work parties.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Bluff Walk Baseball Bypass

Baseball Bypass (yellow). 
In our previous blog post, we showed how old the Bluff Walk is with a post card view from 1914, and mentioned that part of the path was buried under the two ballfields and the parking area for the basketball court.

Old route follows the back of this fence

When we set out to re-established the trail in the 1990's and mark it with white blazes, we weren't quite sure what to do when we got to that missing section, so we had the blazes directing people to walk directly behind the ballfield fences. It was never a good arrangement and the sunny route tended to become overgrown incredibly fast each summer. There's also lots and lots of poison ivy. 

Behind the War Memorial Building
Another issue was the staging area behind the War Memorial Building. Sometimes it was pretty clear, like in the above photo, but at other times there could be a huge pile of landscaping debris.

North end of the new bypass trail, looking South

So we set out to find a new way. In the photo above, looking south, the new route angles down the slope to the left. The former route simple followed the fence to the right.

The new trail, heading south
The new trail descends to a knoll with a seasonal view of the Shelton Canal. While working on the trail, a bald eagle glided over the length of the canal like an airliner coming in for a landing. 

Much of the trail needed benching 

Most of the new route had to be benched into the side of the slope. It's not a very long reroute, only about 500 feet, but it does re-establish more than half of the long-buried section of the Bluff Walk.

Continuing south, the trail rises to rejoin the original Bluff Walk 
We still have about 330 feet of lost trail, but there are no easy solutions for most of that. About 130 feet of that is hopeless due to the extremely steep slope and infestation of Japanese Knotweed, but the trail could be restored on either end if it's determined to be worth the effort.

1934 path routes shown on Google Earth
Where exactly did the old path used to go? There a series of aerials from 1934 that I was able to overlay perfectly onto Google Earth and trace the paths as new lines. After the 1934 aerial layer is turned off and the view tilted, we have the image above. The orange line is the heaviest path or drive. The yellow is the new reroute. The white lines are narrower paths, and match up with the existing Bluff Walk north of the basketball court.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Bluff Walk: Shelton's First Recreation Path

This post card was post marked 1914
The postcard above, titled "The Bluff Walk, Riverview Park, Shelton, Conn." is postmarked 1914 and captures a view from the south end of the park behind what is now the large ballfield. Shelton's first recreational path is now over 100 years old. It originally served the urban residents of downtown Shelton who worked in the factories that lined the lower part of the Shelton Canal.  In the postcard, you can clearly see the canal, river, dam, island, and train tracks (double tracks back then). The trees have been cut on the steep slope for a view, and there are sand slides going down the hill. The land for Riverview Park was donated to the City by the owners of the dam and canal.

Same view, 2016
Here's the view today. There are a lot of very young trees growing on the slope, so it looks like the vegetation was kept cut for a long time. The vegetation has helped to stabilize the slope, but ruined the view. The trail was forgotten for a time and parts were buried under the new ballfields and basketball parking lot. It was then 'rediscovered' in the 1990s, at which time an alderman for the ward asked the Trails Committee to adopt the trail and maintain it. White blazes now mark the route along the river bluff for a half mile from the playground to the Fort Hill marker overlooking the Boys and Girls Club.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Tree Clearing at Pine Lake This Week

SAFETY NOTICE:  The City of Shelton Highways and Bridges Department is removing several large trees at the Pine Lake Entrance to the Recreation Path starting Wednesday this week.  The trees are actually growing on the dam for Pine Lake and need to be removed for dam safety reasons.

The trees slated to be removed are marked with yellow tape.  Avoid that portion of the Recreation Path from Wednesday to Friday due to construction activity.  The Pine Lake parking lot will be closed.

The reason to remove the trees growing on a dam is to prevent potential damage to the dam during a storm.  If the tree blows over the roots can pull out a big chunk of earth, which causes leakage and sudden erosion, which is not good for those downstream, which in this case is downtown Shelton.

We may even wind up loosing the big beech tree downstream of the dam, which would be a shame. 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

We Flew the Coop!

It's all over....the ginormous turkey (turkeys can get frostbite???), Cousin Helga's cornbread stuffing, Uncle Fred's homemade wine (rough and feathery, with a slight, but heady, acorn bite), the endless football games, and a restful snooze. How to recuperate? We tramped the Turkey Trot Trail 2 mile loop! 

 Click on photos to enlarge 

We gathered at the Shelton Intermediate school, 13 hardy souls and 4 fur persons

Eager to get going

Terrance, our beloved leader, leads from the back

Break time at end of an uphill climb
Enjoying a breather

On the bridge at the Silent Waters dam. This is always a picturesque spot to take in the view
We made it! No loss of life or limb. Missing from photo (but not missing in action), Teresa, Richard, and 2 of the pooches

Saturday, November 26, 2016

New Sign: Paugussett & Tahmore Junction

Inscription on bottom of sign:
"To Dad from Emma Christmas 2015"
It's been about a year since Terry & Teresa Gallagher (me) became the CFPA Trail Managers for the Paugussett Trail from the Monroe line to the falls at Indian Well, including the side loop called Tahmore Trail. For Christmas last year, our daughter Emma routered a new sign for the trail junction between the Paugussett and Tahmore and gave it to her dad.

"Help, I nailed my forehead to the sign and I can't get up!"
Terry loved the sign so much, he didn't want to install it right away because he enjoyed looking at it in the living room. And then when the trees leafed out last summer, we discovered that the old overlook was completely overgrown in the summer. Can't see a thing. And the sign claims there is an overlook to the right in 0.1 mile. So we delayed the sign installation, but contacted CFPA and the park staff at Indian Well State Park to see about getting the overlook view restored. It looks like we can get that done next spring, along with some other major trail improvements and reroutes there at Indian Well, thanks to a grant awarded to CFPA from the new REI store in Milford. So we went ahead and installed the sign after the leaves fell.

Now you know where you are. 
That's a busy section of trail, with lots of people parking down on Birchbank Road and hiking up to the overlook. No one ever carries a map and we get lots of questions about the trails while we're up there, so it's a great place for a sign. While Terry was installing the sign, I blew the leaves off that section of the Paugussett, which is really treacherous going down hill this time of year due to the slippery oak leaves. Hopefully next year well have a more sane route going up the hill and that won't be necessary.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Scenes from the Trails Marathon

We are really enjoying the photos that people are sharing of their adventures while completing the 2016 Shelton Trails Marathon. Hope you enjoy them, too. Email photos to 

Hike #1 Rec Path
(submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike #2 Gristmill Trail
(Submitted by Holly E. Smalley)
Hike #3 Oak Valley Trail
(Submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike #4 The Bluff Walk at Riverview Park
(Submitted by Holly E. Smalley)

Hike #4: The Bluff Walk, Fort Hill Pootatuck Indian marker
(Submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike #5: Nells Rock Trail
(Submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike #6: Dog Paw & Flower Path
(Submitted by Teresa Gallagher
Hike #7: Turkey Trot Trail
(Annual Turkey Trot Trek)

Hike #7 Turkey Trot Trail/Rec Path/Paugussett
(Submitted by Holly Smalley)

Hike #8 Boehm Pond
(Submitted by Holly E. Smalley)

Hike #10 Birchbank Trail
(Submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike # 11 Tahmore Trail
(Submitted by Holly E. Smalley)
Hike #12 Paugussett Trail South at "Four Corners"
(Submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike #13 Paugussett Trail North, Birchbank Overlook
Sandie Skudlarek

Hike #13: Paugussett Trail North (Indian Well State Park)
(Submitted by Todd Edwards)

Hike #13: Paugussett Trail North at "The Boulders"
(submitted by Kristine Lucker)

Saturday, November 12, 2016

A Cool Fall RecPath Saturday; Working and Walking

It was a bit cool when we started work along the Recreation Path on Saturday, but after a while we warmed up and more and more people came out.  Here's Jim trying to sweet talk a few patrons into clipping some briars.  In this case Polly was out with a walk with her grandsons looking for her gallivanting husband.

We were cutting back the shoulders of the RecPath between Pine Lake on Rt 108 and Constitution Boulevard North, blowing out leaves, chopping brush, and other not-so-fun-but-must-be-done maintenance tasks.  And along came a number of members of a hiking club (tourists) enjoying Shelton's trails on a sunny Saturday morning. They thought they would enjoy a quiet Fall walk, but little did they know that they would enjoy the sound of leaf blowers and brushcutters of a trail work party.

We had a good turn-out of volunteers.  Here's Susan clearing out a big section of the RecPath above Meadow Street.  She wasn't making any noise.  We had a lot of help but this section of the RecPath was cleaned up today.

The access trail from Wheeler Street was particularly overgrown.

This is the access gate opposite the Senior Center and the Police Station.  You could barely tell there was a trail there.

But thanks to Sheri and Michael, after a few hours of cutting and hauling, you can tell there's a trail now.  With easy, convenient access to Pine Lake and the RecPath.

And Pine Lake was beautiful this morning.

Curtis Brook was almost glowing in the sunlight coming thru the beech trees below the dam.

There were a number of folks out using the RecPath and the surrounding Greenway this morning.  We got a number of compliments on how well the volunteers were maintaining the RecPath.

Polly never did find Bill, who was looking for Luis, but Jim found Bill, who eventually tracked down Luis, who was headed back to his car.  It's amazing how hard it is to find somebody when and where you want them some days.  But thanks to Chris, Susan, Stan, Luis, John, Michael, Sheri, Jim, Bill, and Terry for helping out today.