Sunday, September 16, 2012

Heublein Tower, Simsbury

MDC filtration plant and Hartford view at the parking area on Reservoir Six

Reservoir Six
What a great way to get up to Heublein Tower! The standard (very busy) route is up an old roadbed from Rt 185 and Talcott Mountain State Park, and I've done that before.  Another way is from Rt 185 via the Metacomet Trail (New England Trail), and I've also done that (it's very nice). Today is something new: Parking at Reservoir No. Six in Bloomfield and taking the back way in.  This route has more variety, starting with the view of Hartford from the MDC parking lot and a walk along Reservoir Six.

I took the trail along the reservoir north to the blue/red trail, passing the sign directing me west up to Heublein Tower because I wanted to do a big loop, and continued north, where I picked up the blue blazes of the Metacomet and followed them southwest towards the tower.  This trail brings you to a scenic view on the top of King Phillip Mountain (975'), a peak that is slightly lower than the peak on which nearby Heublein Tower sits (1040').  What's wonderful about this peak is it's isolation relative to the mobbed pathway within earshot down below. 

Stiff Aster - a classic trap rock flower 
"King Phillip" was the White Man's name for an Indian by the name of Metacomet in the 1600's, so it's another way of saying "Metacomet Mountain." And since we're on the Metacomet Trail on the 100-mile long Metacomet Ridge, this does seem to be a place worthy of sitting down and contemplating the man called Metacomet and his war: "King Phillip's War."  If you don't know all about King Phillip's War, you should, because there were more casualties as a proportion of the population than any other war in our history. Here's a very readable link.
I enjoyed the traprock terrain and classic ridge-top plant life, including lots of beautiful Stiff Aster in bloom. That's a short little aster that grows up on trap rock ridges, often in seemingly bare rock. I rarely see it anywhere else.  There's also a ton of Bearberry, a shrub that grows only about a foot high, often in the sands of Cape Cod as well as the tops of dry rocky ridges, and some stunted Red Cedar and Bear Oak (a shrub).

Hang- Gliders

Continuing south with the blue blazes, the trail abruptly dumps out on the the popular gravel road that leads to the tower.  I went the opposite direction (right) down the hill along a ridgeline and came out onto a spot where the earth just suddenly falls away (unlike most cliffs, where there's a lot of dramatic rock that somehow screams out "cliff!!").  This is the spot used by hang gliders, and I was in luck today as a couple were up there getting ready to take off. I didn't stick around to see that, but it was neat seeing the hang-gliders just the same. 

Hang-Glider take-off point
Heublein Tower
Maple Leaf Viburnum
And then back up the tower road I went, up, up, up to the tower. I've been inside before, but couldn't do it this time because it was just me and my dog, and I didn't want to leave her tied up alone.  I do plan on going back soon via the Avon Land Trust property to the west, so I might grab be able to grab some shots of the amazing views up there.

Without lingering too long I followed the blue blazes past the pavilion and into the woods, descending steadily and before too long found myself on one last knoll before the reservoir. Enjoying the spectacular September weather, the dog and I laid down on the forest floor, look up at the tree tops, and just relaxed for a spell.

Hiking is not a race.
Say hello to the little spider (look close)

After ten minutes or so I realized there was a little spider right above my face, and decided it was time to move on. Reservoir Six was up ahead. 

Northern tip of Reservoir Six

Path back to the Res. 6 parking area

What a nice way to end a hike! 

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