Monday, December 14, 2020

Our Favorite Walks Bonus: Tahmore & Indian Well

Indian Well and Tahmore Loop: a great exercise routine

by Teresa Gallagher (Natural Resource Manager)
This post is part of a continuing series describing the Trails Committee members favorite jaunts along Shelton's thirty miles of trails. There are many types of trails located across the city, from the handicapped-accessible Rec Path to the rugged Paugussett Trail. 

Blue arrows to the top then red arrows back down in a figure-8
(Click to enlarge)

This two-mile loop has a scenic overlook of the Housatonic River, decent footing, and lots of hills, making it a great exercise routine that doesn't take too much time. But it's also just a really nice hike. You can also take a spur to the falls at Indian Well. The loop didn't exist when I wrote up my original favorite hike, but has since become my favorite. Note that a ton of reroutes, improvements, and new trails have happened here recently. This is not the old trail system, so if you tried these trails a few years ago, try them again. 

You start at the off-season beach lot across the street from the main Indian Well parking area and head past the sign kiosk and up the Big Stairs (about 50 steps). Phew! Then there's another short but steep hill taking you up to the junction with the blue-blazed Paugussett Trail. That was the hardest part. Take a hard left onto the blue trail (pay attention for this junction, some people who aren't go the wrong way on blue and end up at Birchbank). There is more uphill, but less steep, until you arrive at Tahmore Junction (the intersection with the blue/yellow Tahmore loop trail). You'll jog to the left and then to the right to get on Tahmore Trail going clockwise, following signs for the overlook. This part of Tahmore Trail used to be the Paugussett Trail until a few years ago, so it's well-worn. 

Overlook on Tahmore Trail

This is a great overlook of Lake Housatonic about 200 feet below. Off in the distance is the Derby-Shelton dam, and past that is the Route 8 bridge with teeny-tiny cars crossing it. You might also see Route 34 on the other side of the river. I enjoy seeing this overlook change with the seasons and the time of day. 

Continue following the blue/yellow blazes up and down and around, but mostly up. You'll gain about 150 feet in elevation. Like I said, it's a great workout. The "Top of Tahmore" offers a 360° view through the trees during the offseason, including the river far below. You can't see any of that during the summer, though. 

Sunset at the "Top of Tahmore"

I like the different feel of the hilltop. It's rocky and open and dry, and there are different plants than down below. Blueberries and wild pink, for example. Lots of oak. 

From the Top of Tahmore it's all downhill. Follow the blue/yellow blazes back to Tahmore junction and go straight through the intersection and down the hill on blue, following the signs for the falls (do not take the first blue option, which is the way you came). The trail quickly bends left for a bit, which can feel wrong,  but will switchback back to the south. 

The new Beach Cutoff Trail is still being improved

You'll come to big rock face on the right and the blue/red Beach Cutoff Trail  on your left. The blue/red trail is new and is basically an express trail from the beach to the falls. At this point you have a choice: Turn left onto blue/red and head back to the parking lot, which is what I usually do when I'm in a hurry, or continue on for a slightly larger loop or to see the falls. The blue/red trail is co-aligned with the blue trail for a short ways and then the two split again before coming back together before the blue trail goes down to the river. If you want to see the falls, continue on blue, crossing Indian Hole Brook carefully, then taking a right onto the big wide path that leads a short ways to the falls. There are a lot of signs and maps on the trees to help you find your way here because most people in this area are not hikers and seem to be a little lost. Note that if the water is high, you might not be able to cross the brook. 

Happy Hiking!

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