Day Hike Notes – New England Trail (4)

[Connecticut’s Metacomet Trail runs 62 miles from the Massachusetts line at Suffield to the Hanging Hills north of Meriden.  It is now a segment of the 215-mile New England Trail (Long Island Sound to New Hampshire). My daughter and I hope to section-hike the Metacomet Trail this year, and perhaps continue south to the Sound, if we have time and energy.]

Rattlesnake Cliffs, Farmington CT

From Rattlesnake Cliffs, the Hanging Hills (right of picture) 10 miles south.

I set out on this, our fourth, section of the Metacomet Trail mainly curious about how it would feel in suburban Farmington and Plainville, and how it would navigate the crowded notch occupied by ten-lane I-84/CT 72. I was not expecting a rough or scenic hike. Wrong on both counts! This section had three moods: (1) pleasant and easy suburban woods and lanes for the first four miles; (2) a mile or so beside busy CT 372 to get under I-84; and (3) the rest. The rest – Farmington Mountain, Rattlesnake Mountain, Pinnacle Rock, around Bradley Mountain – was surprisingly scenic. Not pristine, Grand Tetons scenic, but scenic enough. Strips, highways, a quarry or two did intrude, but there were also big views of the leafing-up woods and distant downtown Hartford; spectacular boulders and cliffs; and the Hanging Hills ten miles south, where we will go next. The rest was also unexpectedly demanding, and we were both feeling our knees by the time we reached Crescent Lake.

DATE: Friday, April 29th.
START: Old Mountain Road, Farmington.
FINISH: Ridge above Crescent Lake, Southington.
ROUTE: Metacomet Trail south.
DISTANCE: 12-13 miles, including 0.6 mile access trail to Crescent Lake.
TIME: 7.25 hours (9:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.)
TERRAIN: Very gentle trail and quiet road-walks as far as Route 6. Then rougher over Rattlesnake Mountain and Pinnacle Rock, including steep, awkward descent from Rattlesnake Cliffs. Unnerving walk into oncoming traffic beside Route 372 to pass beneath I-84. Rough ridge above Crescent Lake just as we were tiring. Highest point, Rattlesnake Mountain, 760 feet.
MAP: AMC/CFPA New England Trail Map & Guide.

WEATHER: Bright in the morning, then cloudy. High around 60. Slight breeze on summits.
WILDLIFE: Turkey vultures (see photo). And we saw a dog-walker carrying bear spray!

BREAKFAST: McDonald’s, Southington.
LUNCH: The inevitable cheese sandwich, plus trail mixes, on Rattlesnake Cliffs.
UPS: The surprising number of great views despite passing through so much development.
DOWNS: Very minor, but the Metacomet Trail/New England Trail space beside Route 372 was unceremoniously usurped by road work, leaving us squidged between traffic and concrete barriers.
KIT: Glad of trekking polls on several descents.
COMPANY: Very little, except crossing the notch occupied by I-84.

Metacomet Trail Map (4)

The Metacomet Trail within Connecticut’s CFPA trail system. Our four day-hikes so far are indicated.

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