Thursday, October 17, 2013

Coginchaug Cave, Durham

Leaves changing color
Chestnut sapling
This next section of the NET spur runs 2.3 miles from Old Blue Hills Road to Higganum Road in Durham (remember to check the location feature at the bottom of this post to see the exact parking location on a map). The CFPA showed two features: Coginchaug Cave and Pine Knob Overlook.  

Coginchaug Cave - see dog for scale
In Connecticut, a large rocky hill is called a "mountain", and a large overhanging rock is called a "cave." Neither is technically true, but who cares?  This is the second largest cave I've seen in Connecticut, the largest being the Indian Council Caves along the Tunxis Trail.

Nice view from the cave

Looking back toward the mouth of the cave
Doll's Eyes Baneberry
Pine Knob Overlook was supposed to be off a spur trail just after the cave.  I missed the trail junction and headed towards Higganum Road. The hike was fairly uneventful. The woods were changing color and leaves starting to fall.

The trail was recently reblazed, and the new blazes were very, every crisp and neat. I mean, they were perfect. A lot of older blazes were covered over with gray spray paint, which I thought was odd since some of the eradicated blazes were in helpful locations.  Too many blazes can be unsightly, but not enough blazes make it hard to follow the trail without having to constantly stop and look around for it. It can be hard to get the right balance. I had to backtrack and mull about in one area for five or ten minutes because I just could not find the trail. Freshly
fallen leaves can really hide a trail, making the blazes more important.

Also, many of the old blazes were covered over and a new one painted just below it. Wrong height, or what? Blazes are supposed to be at eye level, but does six inches up the tree really make any difference?

Christmas Fern; new blaze painted right below an obscured blaze. 
Witch Hazel flower and seed pod
On the way back, I found the red/blue spur trail that lead to the Pine Knob Overlook and started up the slope towards a rocky knob. And all the sudden I came out on a street. A woman walking down the road saw me coming up the trail and asked if I was lost. I knew right away that the road must be new, and she confirmed it. "The overlook is in some guy's back yard now."  Great. I trudged back down the hill. No scenic vistas this trip.  But it was a lovely hike through peaceful woods, and I didn't even find any balloons.

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