Hike #35: Westwoods Reserve Trails- Lost Lake in Guildford, CT

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A big thing I did when I lived in Los Angeles were the Secret Stair walks. That guide book got me out in the sun, visiting a neighborhood that was new to me, plenty of exercise, and all of the cheap price of a one-time book purchase. Now that it’s spring, I dug out my AMC Best Day Hikes In Connecticut hiking book and decided that I should tackle the hikes in this book during 2017. I won’t be able to do all 50 in 2017, but I certainly hope to do most of these hikes. My posts will not reveal all aspects of the hike, as I am not a replacement for owning this book, but hopefully my images can help encourage you to buy the book and follow along. Or at least inspire you to get a hike book for wherever you live and to get outside!

Now to share my first hike from this book! I started with hike #35 Westwoods Reserve Trails- Lost Lake in Guildford, CT.

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I went right to the small lot that the book described (which only holds about 5 cars by the way). I imagine street parking is allowed as overflow from the lot.. but I’m not exactly sure, so check road signs! The first thing I did was photograph the map. I ALWAYS photograph the map of the trail I’m about to climb with my cell phone, to use as reference incase I get lost. This is surprisingly helpful.

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The book clarifies this hike as “easy with moderate sections” and I would totally agree. For the most part is was small hills and wide stone paths (like photographed above) but there were short sections that involved steep climbing over rocks, up hill and down hill. I was very glad to have my hiking boots on and was glad there wasn’t more snow on the ground – too slippery!

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This path starts be taking you by the railroad tracks which meant you could hear train noises frequently along the trail.

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There are several splits in the trail, so keep vigilant looking for trail markers and confirm on the map.

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At a few points you climb down the rocks along big boulders. The book talks a lot about the types of rock, trees, and plants.. although in the snow none of this was really applicable.

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There are some steep uphill sections that lead to great water views of the lake.

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Okay this made me laugh out loud when I saw it. I have no clue what/who this group is and I refuse to google “Team Alpha Butt Stuff” for obvious reasons.

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Great views from the trail! I saw birds circling, so I imagine this is a great birding spot.

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The hike takes you from down by the water to up on large rocks high above the lake.

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This was a section where I had to use my hands to get up the boulders and then be careful not to slide down the rock faces. This is where the hiking boots really came in handy. It was also around here where I totally got lost. Since it was snowy, I figured if I followed the fresh footprints, Id eventually link back up with the trail. This theory turned out to be a good one, as it did lead me to where I needed to meet back up with the trail.. but I did end up climbing through muddy/swampy areas. So if you find yourself no longer seeing trail markers, work backward until you meet back up with the trail.

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At the furthest point in the loop, there are some watery areas with little wood “bridge” planks. It was pretty fun. Don’t fall in!

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The blue path that I was on became the orange “X” trail, which would lead me back to the parking lot.

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Snowy, but pretty! I like that this trail had a pretty wide path, and the snow actually kept it from getting crowded. I only passed two people on the trail, but I imagine on a nice day this would be a busy trek.

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Once again, you pass by the train tracks to get to the parking lot.

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One thing that is fun about doing a hike in a new-to-me area is checking out the local coffee shops after the hike as a reward. I’m not new to Guilford but it was fun to make time to visit a local coffee shop and soak up the pretty Guilford Square scenery.

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I stopped into Cilantro Specialty Foods Coffee Shop along the Guilford Green to warm up (it was a very cold day), refuel, and read up on the next hike I was headed to this afternoon.

Next up: Hike 47, McKinney National Wildlife Refuge (Salt Meadow Unit) !

Cape Cod Hike: Monomoy River Conservation Lands

After finishing our windy walk at the Coy’s Brook Wetlands, we made our way over to the Monomoy River (on the Harwich / Chatham border). It was still windy and cold, so this woodsy walk with glimpses of water views made for some good outdoor exercise given the weather. According to the Harwich Conservation Trust website this hike is 1.25 miles and the parking lot is off of Bay Rd. There were a handful of parking spots (not a ton). We were only one of two cars in the lot, so on a wintery day it’s easy to park.

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You can actually kayak along this part of the Monomoy River, but be sure to check the tide and time your visit right. My dad kayaked here and got cut up trying to exit his kayak along the newly renovated bridge area (by Route 28 on the map).

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Yay, the trail head!

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It’s woodsy walking out to the cliffside overlooking the river.

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This is the viewpoint out along the river. See the benches? On a warm day, pack a picnic!

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We did some birding as we followed the path along the cliffside.

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Eventually the water falls from view and it’s back to being a woodsy trek.

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You’ll hit an open area with power lines and you can see about the trail clearly continues along this opening..

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Following the power lines…

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And eventually you’ll follow the path to the right back into he woods where the hike loops back to the  parking lot. This was a great hike to link with the short Coy walk for a fuller workout. We also stopped in nearby Chatham at the fish pier to look for seals (and sharks.. I’m always looking for sharks).

If you’re looking for more exercise, or coffee/lunch, head into Main Street in Chatham and stroll around this super adorable street full of shops and food options.

Cape Cod Hike: Coy’s Brook Woodlands

I’m getting a little backlogged in hikes to share with you, so I hope to post a couple this week. When I was in Cape Cod two weeks ago, it was blustery cold and SUPER windy. We did the Bells Neck Hike  on Saturday, and then ventured out on Sunday to two different hikes. The first was Coy’s Brook Woodlands. It was a woodsy walk, less than a mile, with water/marsh views for half of it.

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Click on the map above and it will take you to the Harwich Conservation Trust (who made the map) and you’ll see official details from the hike. Below are photos of this trek on a cold early March 2017 weekend.

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The trail begins off a small parking lot on Lathrop Ave in Harwich Cape Cod, MA. There’s not a ton of parking, but on this freezing day it was only us and a woman walking her 3 dogs.

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The trail very quickly loops down toward the marsh, so interesting views are seen for over 50% of this trail. The tress also helped cut down on the cold wind. This was a very easy trail. You can see from the path image above, it was relatively flat, wide, and not very long. We did this on the same day that we did another short hike, just to make it feel like more exercise.

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Marsh views.

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You can see above, the trail has some bumps but it’s not very hilly and at under a mile, it didn’t take long at all.

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For birders needing to sit and wait for their winged friends, there is a bench along the water. The loop back to the car was woodsy, but before you know it you’re passing a water tower and the back of a private home, and it spits you out in the parking lot. Beware dog (hopefully) poop! I managed to get it on my hiking boots and it was a mess to get off my shoe. Classic Bethany.

Hike: Bells Neck Conservation Lands

This past weekend (March 4th to be exact) my parents and I ventured out into the freezing cold winds to get some exercise out in Cape Cod. After a week of 60 degree temps, we were SO COLD doing this walk (as you can see from our Michelin Man layers). I feel like the photos show how cold it was, but don’t convey just how windy it was. We are lucky none of us were blown into the West Reservoir of Bells Neck. I’m sure Ill do this walk again in the summer and share the differences!

We started by parking at the lot on the right of the map and then we worked our way around the water clockwise. I want to note that this was a pretty easy walk, 50 minute walk. From the parking “lot” (only room for a handful of spots) to the Fish Ladder, it was a pretty wide path, not much close brush and had pretty views throughout. The loop from the Fish Ladder back to the car, that north side is more woodsy, and a much tighter trail. In the summer I can see this being over grown and scratchy/itchy on bare legs (in shorts), which clearly wasn’t a problem today in our arctic layers.

Difficulty: EASY level #2 (1 being a paved path – 5 being an intense up hill hike)

Length: 2.75 miles according to the website, but I imagine it depends which route you go. It took us about 50 minutes, and we stopped for pictures and to look for birds.

Best Time to go: This will be busy (limited parking) + over grown in the height of summer (ticks!). Slightly off season is probably best. Spring/Fall. It’s also a great place to kayak!

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Map Provided by the Harwich Conservation Trust

For the original map + official details about the hike click HERE. Above is my version with the pink path showing you the route we took.

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Look at the level of layers required! I think we just had an especially rough day, wind wise.

The map up above has “B”s marking the benches along the loop. It’s probably more fun to sit when you aren’t being blown over into the water.

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The plants and branches were frozen to the water along the edges.

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This is the view of the Herring River on one side of the fish ladder.

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Above is the view of the West Reservoir. So peaceful. Given the cold temps, I think we only passed one person on this trail (and another person along the bike path). So still.

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Above and below are shots of the fish ladder, currently unoccupied by herring fish but soon will have fish jumping along the ladder.

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After the fish ladder we continued on to make this a loop along the water. This route takes you by privately owned cranberry bogs. Such a fun punch of color in a wintery landscape. Keep an eye out for “trail” tags marked on the trees showing you were to jump back into the woods along the path.

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These two images above show you that the wide path snakes along the edge of the property untimely meeting up with the bike path.

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Here’s the entrance to the bike path, which also has a map of the area posted for reference. When you reach the bike path take a right and continue on the path until you see a clearly marked path back toward the water, also on the right.

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This is the view along the path- pretty!

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Above is my Dad in giant layers trying to hide behind a tiny map. Can you spot Waldo? This is the path heading off from the bike path. You can see, it’s easy to spot.

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This part of the path gets a little narrower, and you can see that poison ivy+ticks might make this part tricky in the summer.

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We did an added little loop on a peninsula that juts out into he water, and then made out way back to the car.

I was with my birding parents, so they were constantly on the lookout for birds and we did end up seeing a massive blue heron. It was good at hiding among the tall grass by the water, so I don’t have a photo of it worth sharing. Keep a lookout for them when you’re exploring the area.

As windy and as cold as it was, we were really happy to get out of the house and get some exercise along a woodsy path (that cuts down on the wind!) and with pretty views of the water. I’ll for sure be doing this walk again during a different season and show the contrasting images.

 

March 3, 2017: Trolley Trail Branford, CT

How do you like the new logo? Thought it was about time I jazzed it up a bit, as it hasn’t been touched in 2 years.

One thing that I miss  about my LA life is doing fun activities and blogging about them, which I stopped doing due to lack of time now that I’m on the east coast. I also noticed that I have a hard time finding important details about hikes on the east coast. I’m channeling my inner MODERN HIKER and sharing a post about a fun outdoor walk in Branford, CT called the Trolley Trail.

The Trolley Trail is a very easy, flat outdoor trail along the water in Branford, CT… specifically the Thimble Island area. The views are excellent and this one-way-out, one-way-back trail is pretty short so you can add on laps in the neighborhoods on either side of the walk (obeying privacy signs) to make it a full workout. Super easy, super pretty, so bring a camera and a picnic lunch 🙂

The Map:

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There are two areas to park (“P”). One lot is by W Point Rd & Thimble Island Rd (by a baseball field) and the other is at the end of Tilcon Rd. The walk stretches between these two lots. In my images I start by the baseball field, walk out to Tilcon Rd, and back (adding on an extra walking loop down Thimble Island Rd for more exercise). I imagine on a really nice summer day, parking would be harder to come by, but I was surprised at how generous both lots were.

Check out the RULES:

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The walk begins by taking you over a bridge (fun photo op!)

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There are excellent views throughout the walk, so be sure to look up while you stroll. See the Thimble Islands off in the distance? Bring binoculars for birding/gawking at gorgeous homes.

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A chunk of this path is even PAVED (and there are benches to rest!). I should note that there are some additional trails that go off into the woods from this trail. We didn’t explore this, but families with children were heading off to snack on the rocks overlooking the trail.

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This was a surprisingly sunny (but chilly) Sunday in February at low tide, so it wasn’t the most colorful time for plants and trees (dullsville) but there’s still something beautiful about dried muted plants.

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At one point we went under a bridge and there was a well dressed graffiti artist working his magic. I’m not sure what he was adding to these walls, but it had to be Banksy. I’m sure of it 😉

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After looping back, this is the view heading back over the bridge to the parking lot.

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On our way back to the car (just beyond the bridge) is a little trail with a tree swing and a spot to get closer to the water.

TRAIL EXTENSION:

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So to make this a longer walk (although I guess you could just do laps back and forth along the Trolley Trail if you wanted) I suggest leaving your parked car in the lot and walking into town along Thimble Island Rd. This above is a view from a little sandy beach front. If it’s warm, put your feet in!

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Above is the view from the dock where you can take a ferry boat around the Islands (in the summer). I will 100% be doing this in the summer, and I’ll share the deets with you when I do. I suggest walking down the little side streets, stop at the deli by the water for lunch (or pack a picnic and eat it on the beach) and enjoy the pretty views and gorgeous houses.