Thursday, July 28, 2022

Photo Tour of Trombetta Trail

Trombetta Trail

There's a new hiking trail on our Trombetta Woods Open Space that you can't quite legally get to until the state grants permission to cross a narrow strip of Centennial Watershed State Forest. It will make a nice loop off the end of Stockmal Trail so that you don't have to just stop and turn around. 

There's a short gap between Stockmal Trail and Trombetta Trail.

The Natural Resource Manager (me) has a permit to cross Means Brook and Centennial Watershed State Forest in order to remove an invasive Mile-a-Minute (MAM) Vine infestation. The hiking trail was created last fall after MAM was found growing on the far end of the property. Without a trail, it would be nearly impossible to access the infestation for management. The old driveway from Monroe shown on some maps is completely overgrown, and we don't want to clear it for fear of inviting ATVs. The loop is about half a mile long. 

Stockmal Trail starts here on Route 110 across from Nicholdale Farm

So here's a photo tour. After hiking to the end of Stockmal Trail near Means Brook, it's time to cross Centennial Watershed State Forest. The forest is about 100 feet wide in this spot. 

Means Brook is easily crossed during low summer flow.

Means Brook is super easy to cross during low summer flow. I just stepped on a couple rocks and never got my feet wet. There's a steep embankment on the far side, but a notch in one spot makes it easy enough to climb up onto the berm that follows the brook.  The brook can only be crossed like this during low flow. Other times of year, the water will be higher, and after heavy rain it jumps its banks and really floods. A traditional pedestrian bridge may not be feasible due to the severe flooding. 

Trombetta Trail begins

Trombetta Trail starts out by following the top of the wooded berm alongside the river. It's unusual. The berm was created when the river was channelized many years ago. The trail stays up on the berm because the footing is solid and dry. The area below is a bit damp and soft. After the berm walk, the trail drops down to begin a loop. 

The loop starts

Heading counterclockwise around the loop

The loop starts out pretty level and comes to an area that used to be quarried for sand. The ground is weirdly uneven where heavy equipment was used to scoop out sand, and there are also drainage ditches. Piles of unwanted dirt were left behind. After the quarry was abandoned, trees and brush grew up over everything. There's one spot that still pretty open for some reason, and that's were the Mile-a-Minute Vine was found growing. 

Time to check for MAM

Found some MAM.
It won't let go of my glove.

The MAM vine has been pulled a couple times already this year and is under control. It doesn't seem to be able to spread into shady areas, which is good, and the heavy vegetation in the clearing is suppressing its growth. It has little barbs that act like velcro and are sharp enough to cause micro-stab wounds. It can grow up to 6" per day, so it's important to keep checking this area. 

MAM weevils are helping
Little holes in the leaves show that weevils are active and doing their job. The weevils were released in Newtown and other areas several years ago and have multiplied. They slow down the growth a bit, but do not stop the spread. 

Continuing down Trombetta Trail
After pulling MAM, it's time to finish the Trombetta loop. The trail circles around the MAM site and starts heading back, this time up the slope. The terrain changes after leaving the old quarry area, with old stone walls cutting through classic New England woodlands. 

Classic New England stone wall

Lots of Christmas Fern

The trail follows the slope grade until it gets to a big stone wall that marks the boundary line with Jones Farm. There's some scenic ledge in that area. The trail then turns to follow the stone wall for a bit before turning back to complete the loop. 

Stone wall along the Jones Farm property

Peaking through the trees at the Jone's Farm meadow

Just before completing the loop, there's a very tall oak tree next to the trail that towers over its neighbors. Last fall it was still green when the surrounding trees had already dropped most of their leaves. 

King of the Forest. 

For more information about Trombetta Woods and our quest to gain access across Centennial Watershed State Forest, read our post from January 4, 2022. 

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