Monday, February 20, 2012

Reed's Gap to Black Pond

This section starts out well enough in Durham on Route 68, quickly hops over a set of train tracks, and heads up the hill along some ATV tracks.   The ridge has a sense of humor for hikers, with half a dozen false summits and elevation drops before you finally reach the top. 

Hepatica growing in the trail 

Along the south slope a few of the plants looked about ready to take off, including some growing chickweed I nibbled on - the first greens of spring.  

The trail soon crosses the town line into Wallingford and it doesn't take long before there are views. Lot's of views.  There are so many viewpoints along this hike that after a while I think I stopped looking.  

"Mountain Ridge"
Had a very strange moment when I suddenly realized I had been in the one of the buildings I was looking down on, a place called Mountain Ridge. 

After a couple of miles walking along the ridge, the trail crosses into Meriden and passes by the derelict Powder Ridge ski slope. 

The place reminded me a bit of the abandoned Pleasure Beach in offshore Bridgeport.  It's just sitting there rotting away. 

ATV's churned up the trail into slippery mud that was hard to walk on.
Two things stick in my mind for this hike: the endless views and depressing degradation of the place. Up to this point, the New England Trail, although surrounded by suburbs, has kept the illusion of being in the middle of nowhere. Not this time. 

Four sets of ATVs and dirtbikes passed.  I had forgotten it was a school holiday. The damage to the New England Trail is simply unacceptable. This historic trail, created by hikers after painstakingly obtaining permission from many, many private property owners, has been stolen by spoiled children on motorized vehicles. They are destroying it. I don't blame the kids. I blame their parents. 

There were lots of party spots along the ripped up trail as it passed into Middlefield, often on the edge of a cliff and filled with litter and broken glass. I don't know who Mike was, but I'm guessing he fell off the cliff during a party and his friends think he should best be remembered by spray painting the National Scenic Trail. Nice.

Really? Where's that old commercial with the crying Indian....Here it is (amazing what you can find on the Internet). 

 There's Long Island Sound in the distance. 

Black Pond marks the end of the hike.  But getting down to the lake takes some time.  The trail here gets very close to the edge in places so you want to be very careful not to trip and fall.  There's Mount Higby in the distance. That will be next. 

Here's a nice shot of some basalt (trap rock). 

I ended my hike at Black Pond because I've hiked this end before. The actual NET doesn't come out at the pond, but continues on to Rt 147.  When I got to the parking lot to wait for my ride, wouldn't you know there were three obnoxious yahoos blasting music and talking loud, so I walked up to the highway where it was more peaceful. 


  1. Well, you certainly aren't encouraging me to get out and thru-hike this trail with your latest post! =)

    Sometimes, the worst trails are the most accessible ones. Sad, but true....

    -- Ryan

  2. No no, it was great, you are hereby encouraged to thru hike the NET! I've found about 100 stamps so far, many on the side trails.

  3. Why people purchase ATVs/dirt bikes without having an acceptable (read: legal) place to ride is beyond imagination (because I don't want to face the level of acute ignorance). Thanks for your blogs. Enjoy them very much.