Thursday, October 18, 2012

Copper Mountain, East Granby

Doll's Eye Baneberry
What a glorious hike!  Peak foliage. The forest seemed to be positively glowing in yellow and gold. If only we could bottle this.  Parking was at the corner of Route 20 and Newgate Road, and this appears to be a pretty popular place to park considering there is no real parking lot. The trail is heavily worn, but on a Thursday morning I was able to walk to the Suffield town line without seeing a single person. It was only on the way back that I began to encounter groups of people walking up to the top of Copper Mountain for a look. And for good reason. This is a lovely stretch of trail where the sounds of the suburbs quickly drop away, leaving only a rarely passing jet taking off from nearby Bradley airport.
Junction with the Red Trail

Asters and Maple
The trail climbs steadily for nearly a mile to the red trail coming in from Route 187 to the east. This is also called the Brian Spears Eagle Trail. Later I followed the Red Trail almost all the way to the bottom, and sadly the "trail" had been recently widened and graded into a dirt woods road. Still hikeable, but nowhere near as pleasant as climbing up the mountain via the Metacomet Trail.

Just past the red trail the blue blazes head up a steeper section of trap rock to a spectacular overlook. Finally!  After the view-less hike along Hatchet Hill, this is just what I was looking for. And more. It was one of those, "Wow! I mean wow!" moments.
Copper Mountain

View south along the Talcott Mountain ridge and Heublein Tower

USGS Survey Marker
This mountain has two names.  On the CFPA map and on the USGS Survey Marker set in stone it is called "Copper Mountain."  In many other places it is called, "Peak Mountain, also known as Copper Mountain."  I refuse to call it Peak Mountain  because it just sounds daft, like saying "Street Road" or "Stream River.  And Copper Mountain is a perfect name.  Copper was discovered here in 1705, and two years later a group of investors organized the first chartered mine in the country. The ground was worked for decades, but it never turned a profit. They did make some interesting copper coins called "Higley Copper" that are now collector items.  Eventually the Colony of Connecticut purchased the underground mine and converted it into the nation's first state prison in 1776, now a tourist attraction (but sadly closed this year for renovations).

View northwest towards Massachusetts

After the breathtaking fall views, the  trail continued along the ridge for quite some ways with partial views, eventually coming to a second lookout almost as good as the first.  The remains of Old-Newgate Prison are visible from the ridge.

Looking down on Old New-Gate Prison


Nice to see fewer houses and more trees
Slug trails on trap rock
Further on, the ridge gradually descends to a broad level area, still high up on the ridge, where a granite monument marks the boundary between East Granby and Suffield, the 19th and last town in Connecticut along the New England Trail. Yippee!  It's a beautiful spot deep in the forest set between Copper Mountain and Suffield Mountain. This stretch of trail is over five miles long with no road crossings, one of the longer stretches, and the town line is roughly mid-way. The marker is only ten feet or so from the trail and easy to spot.  But if you're looking for it and miss it, it's very near a dramatic full-sized hemlock that is growing right out of a big chunk of trap rock at the edge of the cliff. Hard to miss it. And right after that is a great view point.  Nice spot all around.

East Granby - Suffield granite boundary monument

Near the granite monument are a couple of much older markings that I assume are previous attempts to mark the town line, which they would naturally do up here on top of the ridge. First is a pile of rocks. It's funny when you read old deeds or survey maps and they define property lines by things like "the pile of rocks."  What if someone from East Granby decided to just move the pile of rocks over and take part of Suffield?

Old boundary marker
And a bit further into the woods are a couple of  flat pieces of shale that have been stuck into the ground on end.  I'm guessing those are also old boundary markers.
Another old boundary marker

View at the East Granby - Suffield town line
There's a great viewpoint close by on the Suffield side. Beautiful! I can't wait to hike back to this point, but next time from the Suffield side.

Interesting spot for a mushroom to grow.


  1. Nice! I will take a walk here

  2. Yes the cabin is a caualty of the powerline construction. !0 years ago the trail did go all the way to rising corner but subsequent land owners closed it. A shame the house that the trail crossed went up for sale very reasonable price several years ago. AMC or ct foret and parks should have bought it for the land and kept the trail peace and sold it off again.