About This Blog
This blog marks my exploration of the New England Trail and the nearly continuous chain of conservation lands and trail networks that it links together. I like to focus on the natural history along the trail, which is all about the Connecticut Valley and its trap rock ridges.
The blog starts in January 2012 and chronicles my journey up the mainline through the seasons, starting with trail sections that were still under construction in Guilford, CT, and finishing up at the Mass line in late Autumn. 2013 saw no progress due to injuries, but in 2014, I finished up the spur in Connecticut as well as the newest sections in Guilford, reaching Long Island Sound. I'm hoping to continue on up into Massachusetts in 2015.
The New England Trail was officially designated as such in 2009, although most of us in the hiking community really started hearing about it in 2011 when the trail was extended toward Long Island Sound in Guilford. It's the first new National Scenic Trail in twenty-five years. Most of the trail actually goes back to 1931, however, following the old blue-blazed Mattabesett, Metacomet, and Monadnock Trails (MMM) for a few hundred miles through southern New England. The new section of trail in Guilford is called the Menunkatuck.
I had hiked bits and pieces of the Metacomet and Mattabesett Trails in the usual places, like Ragged Mountain in Berlin and Talcott Mountain in Simsbury, but with the new designation I decided to start at the southern end of the trail in Guilford and gradually make my way north along the trail. The entire route, other than a short stretch in Guilford, follows the famed Metacomet Ridge, a line of hard trap rock that rises precipitously above the Connecticut Valley. The ridge is scenic and ecologically unique. And by that I mean watch out for copperheads.
My real goal is to find all the letterboxes I can along the way. For those not initiated into this cult, letterboxing involves finding hidden tupperwares out along the trail that contain little pieces of folk art in the form of a hand-carved rubber stamps. You carry a logbook and "stamp in" when you find the box. I have a special leather-bound journal just for the stamps I find along the NET. I'm not going to tell you about the boxes I find, because that would be a terrible breach of letterboxing etiquette. If you're interested in what letterboxes might be out there, you'll need to find them on your own. Start with Atlas Quest and Letterboxing.org. My trail name, by the way, is Trailhead Tessie, and I'll be leaving some boxes of my own along the way for you to find.
The New England Trail, as well as all other official Connecticut Blue-Blazed Trails, are maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association (CFPA). I encourage you to support them. Maps and trail descriptions are contained in CFPA's the Connecticut Walk Book, East and West Editions. For the New England Trail, you want the West Edition. It's important to check CFPA's website for trail updates that are not shown on the maps in the book. For example, maps for the new Menunkatuck are only available online, and there have been some reroutes and parking lot notices posted.
The header photo for this blog is the view from the Metacomet Trail portion of the New England Trail on Ragged Mountain in Berlin, CT.