Shoreline Greenway Trail- Madison, CT

I’m backlogged in posts, specifically about hikes from my hike book, but I’m going to take a break to share about the Greenway Trail in Madison, CT. This path and separate parking lot are just outside of Hammonasset Beach in Connecticut. There is a Hammonasset “hike” (super easy) in the AMC hiking book, so it makes sense to lump these walks together and do them back to back. For now I’m sharing just the Greenway trail.

As you can tell from the photos, I did this hike back in March (or whenever our last snowfall was). There was only one other person on the trail while I was walking, and I imagine now that spring has sprung, this trail would be packed with walkers + bikers. It has it’s own free parking lot off route 1 (holds maybe 40 cars? so it’s not tiny), just after the entrance to Hammonasset.

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Once you park, you can follow a path that makes you cross the driveway into Hammonasset, but the trail leads away from the entrance and takes you back toward Route 1.. this sounds confusing, but it’s easy to see the trail when you’re there.

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Just to note, that parking lot for the Greenway trail is not overflow parking for Hammonasset. So please don’t park in that lot and then hike your way to the beach as a way to use the beach for free (to avoid paying the entrance/parking beach fee). It takes up valuable parking for those people who are there to use the intended trail. Okay, lecture over.

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Back to the (snowy) trail! This path was basically paved and I would say is handicap friendly with excellent water views.

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The trail goes along the backside of the Hammonasset campground, and you can even see an amphitheater where movies and events would be held in the summer. There is a fence separating the trail from the campground, but the view in made me think I should plan a camping trip there this summer. It was nicer than I had imagined for such a busy park.

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As I keep going on the trail, I was able to see beautiful homes in the distance and big birds flying around. I’m sure this is a great birding spot.

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So pretty, and flat!

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Toward the end the trail follows closely with route 1, but there is a fence divider.

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This is the end of the trail. My only complaint about this trail is that it isn’t very long. If you stopped here afterwork and wanted to do an hours worth of exercise, I would suggested doing 2 loops back and forth… maybe even 3.

I was naughty, and don’t recommend it, but I continued on my walk into the private neighborhood beyond the trail. I’m sure the neighbors hate it, but I really needed more exercise.

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I didn’t take any photos of the street to respect the neighbors privacy, but at the end of each street there was a pretty beach view. That strip of land on the left side of the photo above (way in the distance) is Hammonasset beach sticking out into the water.

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Down another street lead to a “DEP Property”. After this, I made my step count for the day and looped back to the parking lot.

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On the walk back, I noticed that a rock had these painted “bug” rocks attached to it. It was a nice little artistic boost to my walk. Now go, do this loop, and see if you can find the painted rock-bugs!

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Hike #33: Bluff Head Ridge in North Guilford, 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!

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On a sunny (but chilly) March Sunday, I decided to tackle two hikes/walks (with a reward new-to-me coffee shop in between). Since my morning was filled with errands (as Sundays are known for), I really only had the second half of the day free for outdoor time. Aching for some sunshine and exercise (but not a super long car ride) I decided to head to North Guilford, CT to do hike #33 Bluff Head Ridge, from my hike book. This seemed like a challenging hike, it’s always best to start the day with a hard hike and then end with something gentler.

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This Bluff Head Ridge hike was not crowded (1 other car in the medium sized lot) and still pretty snowy (As you can see below).

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This two mile loop is not very long, but definitely has a tough spot. In the photo above you can see there’s a path going off the photo to the left (flat terrain) and a path leading up a VERY steep hill to the right. I assumed that it would start flat and I’d end up going down the super steep section (which is covered in snow).

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So I started on the flat path, even stopping to visit a cemetery just off the path.

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I kept walking slowly down hill, until I got to this little chained off area and realized that my hike book wanted me to do this hike in reverse.. aka: I was going the wrong direction. This also means that my hike needed to start with a slippery steep uphill climb.

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I took a couple bites from my power bar and started up the hill. I have to say, the photo above does not do the steepness of the climb justice. There were times were my foot seemed nearly vertical and would slide down. I was glad to have my hiking boots on. The snow also made this more difficult, but I imagine in the summer the loose dirt would make this tricky.

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STEEP!

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But the reward of the steep never ending uphill is a sense of accomplishment, the joy of being super out of breath, and great views. While I was climbing There were definitely giant birds swirling around the sky above me… vultures? hawks? no clue, but big and loud.

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At the top, at least the hillside had more access to sunlight so some snow had melted. In the photo above, on the right side, is where the hillside is really a cliff that drops down really far. I was very aware that one slip on the ice could be trouble.

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Another part of this hike, that was more ominous than the vultures swirling above my head, were the constant gun shots that sounded like they were coming from the woods I was walking in. Now I didn’t see hunters.. or hunting signs, so I think I was safe, but it was the soundtrack to the hike.

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Up, up, up!

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So when I got close to the peak, I ended up skipping the highest section. I know this feels like a cop out, but between the gun shots, the vultures and the slippery ice for the last (as far as I know) stretch of uphill, it just didn’t feel safe given the conditions. It’s very hard to tell, but the photo above is that last steep stretch. It was steeper than it looks in the photo, and when I got closer to the start of the incline I could see that it was covered in ice. I felt like I would be okay going up this ledge, but was worried about how I would get down without slipping. The right side of the photo really is a cliff edge (misleading from the photo, but quite a drop off in person). Also no one knew where I was, and with only 1 other car in the lot, I didn’t think anyone would hear me if I needed to yell for help. From my map, I think I got pretty close to the peak, and I felt good about that. Next up was backtracking to a path that would create a loop out of this trail.

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In order to back up to the hiking loop, I had to climb back over some slippery steep rocks. It was nothing crazy, but just slippery in the snow. It’s also clearly a well walked path by the foot prints, so I hope my note about the trail above isn’t a total turnoff.

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Ahh, back on the hiking loop. Now I walked toward the gun shots. There were getting louder and louder so I imagine there must be a shooting range nearby, as they were also constantly shooting. I was brave on continued on 🙂

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I was wearing a bright purple coat, so at least I stood out amongst the trees. I also did my best to make noise on the trail. If there was a hunter out here shooting, I didn’t want to surprise them. This just meant I cleared my throat more often, and took louder steps.

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It was  pretty quick (only 2 miles) before I was back on the trail where I had mistakenly started the hike, and thereby close to the parking lot. Another one done! Since I didn’t get to make it to the absolute highest viewpoint, I’ll have to come back in a month or two when the snow is fully gone.

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After this hike, I was in North Guilford and decided to head down to Hammonasset Beach in Madison. I stopped in the center of Madison (cute little downtown with shops) and grabbed coffee from Willoughby’s.

My next stop was going to be to do my 3 mile Hammonaset hike (#46 in the book), but instead decided to check out the Shoreline Greenway Trail in Madison. Eventually all of CT will hopefully have one long shorline trail, but right now there are just chunks of Greenway trail in several towns. I had posted about the Shoreline Greenway Trail in Guilford, and was anxious to check out the Madison portion along the water. I’ll have this walk to share with you next. Happy Friday! And be sure to get outside this weekend and explore!

 

Hike #47: McKinney National Wildlife Refuge- Salt Meadow Unit in Westbrook, 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!

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After Hike 35 (and my stop into Cilantro Specialty Foods Coffee Shop along the Guilford Green) I continued on to Westbrook to complete hike #47. It was getting late in the day so this hike was perfect timing and the right topography (easy) for this cold windy snowy day.

This hike had nice views, but was still wooded which protected me from the wind on this cold day. It was also relatively flat, so the residual snow didn’t pose much of a slippery threat.

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Given the weather, I was the only one brave enough to handle this hike around 4pm on a Saturday. A nice big parking lot with just my Mazda in it. Thankfully based on the tracks in the snow, I could tell people had been there earlier in the day.

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I won’t share the map from the book, but here’s a photo of the map hanging at the start of the hike/walk. You can see it’s pretty straightforward, basically one big loop with some water views along half of the trek.

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This walk features plaques with information about the nature and the buildings on the property. This home has had some famous visitors (Eleanor Roosevelt!).

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Based on the signs, you can tell this is a great birding walk.

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You can see the paths are wide (snowy on this Saturday) and pretty flat.

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This is a view looking back at the homestead. So pretty.

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More birding plaques as the path makes its way into the woods.

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This path gets a little more narrow as it enters the woods, and that’s when water/marsh views come into play as well as a view of the train tracks.

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What a pretty peaceful trek. Just me and the birds.

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Toward the end of the loop are the “ruins” of an old fountains and bbq pit that the owners of the property used to use. Off to the left is a bath leading down to a bird/marsh viewing platform. Don’t miss checking this out because it was a highlight of the loop.

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I didn’t see any “special” birds, but Im no expert.

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The walk loops back up…

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And meets back up with the welcoming hut. Take a look at the paperwork + information inside.

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As a woodworker, I love the close up of the “hut”. From here it was a short walk to the parking lot. This easy just-over-a-mile walk is a great outdoor loop, and a nice addition to follow up a longer earlier in the day hike.

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.