|Pinchot Sycamore, Route 185|
|Heublein Tower overlooks the Pinchot Sycamore|
|My map, based on gps (solid lines) with dashed lines approximate only|
The CFPA CT Walkbook map shows the NET (as the Metacomet), but not any side trails. Usually I can find some kind of map online for the interconnecting trails, but could find nothing for some trails that were said to cross municipal property known as Cowles Park, until I found a map drawn up by a the Farmington Valley Homeschool Hikers. Nice job, homeschoolers!
|Pretty shoreline walk|
|Silver Maple, a floodplain tree|
|Heading up the ridge|
Before long, the trail heads up the slope, cutting across the slope so it's not too steep. The leaves have begun falling, concealing loose traprock cobbles, so the going was slower than normal, as it will be for the rest of the season. The trail levels off and before long arrives at the popular overlook. I made a point to do this hike on a weekday so that I wouldn't have to deal with loud yahoos who do things like yell down the trail to each other as if they're the only ones in the park, and didn't see a soul until much later in the day.
|Tariffville Gorge overlook. The view was all mine.|
Then it's the classic ridge hike for some way. I was looking for a trail to head down to Cowles Park like the homeschool map said, but didn't see it. It was there, it's just not easy to spot. Continued on to a chimney and finally to an overlook of the Farmington Valley starting to show some fall color.
After reaching Hatchet Hill Road, I turned back and walked back to the chimney, where a saw a well-defined trail heading down the hill. Was this the trail down to Cowles I was looking for? It wasn't. But eventually it lead me to a major 4-way intersection with the correct path, so I took that straight down the hill, crossed a set of powerlines with a lot of truck activity, and before long arrived at a pedestrian bridge and then a bench at the intersection of the yellow and orange loops at Cowles Park. At the next junction between the two loop trails, there was a sign for the Westervelt Trail, so that must be the name of the Orange Loop.
|Moving power line cable across the trail. Thanks for the warning.|
After making it past the trail hazard, I wandered on up the hill and before long was back at the overlook. But instead of heading back to the car, I took the big trail down south side of the ridge towards the river. The trail is blazed, but the color keeps changing from tree to tree. Not sure what that's all about. After a time, the trail splits, with the major part bearing left-ish and a smaller trail with blue CFPA-type blazes going straight. That must be why the homeschooler map shows the blue going this way. I took the blue down to Tunxis Ave. Not sure where that other trail ends up. There was a closed gate across the road maybe 75 feet to the east.
I followed the pavement down to a cul-de-sac and then down a wide trail to a beautiful sandy spot along the shore.
|Farmington River hits the hard trap rock... rapids are the result.|
I hit a lot of traffic on the way back. For most of the NET up to the MDC properties, the drive has taken from 45 minutes to an hour just because of how the highways are laid out, but it's now taking longer and longer each trip. It took me 45 minutes just to get to I-84 this time. Simsbury and Avon seem like very nice towns, but holy cow, their traffic is horrible. Light after light takes five or ten minutes to get through, multiples cycles of the light before you even get to the intersection. Lines of traffic a block long to get through the intersection, then you drive a few more minutes and hit another line of traffic a block long. So anyway, I was incredible bored through all this and while I was stopped I took some pictures:
|I'd rather be up there at Heublein Tower than here stuck in traffic|
|The cliffs of Talcott Mountain.|
|My boredom represented in artistic fashion.|