Archive for the ‘ ~GROTON CT~ ’ Category

Cross Town Trail – Groton

  • Groton Cross Town Trail
  • Depot Road, Groton, CT
  • Trailhead:  41°20’8.29″N, 72° 1’58.54″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 2, 2019
  • Approximate distance hiked: 6.0 miles
  • Moderate with some hills and rugged areas. Navigation can be difficult in areas.

 

The town of Groton offers a trail that connects several properties while it traverses quite literally cross town. The trail, six miles in total one way, starts at Bluff Point State Park, winds through Haley Farm State Park, meanders through the Mortimer Wright Preserve and Merritt Family Forest before coming to a half mile of road walking, climbs through Beebe Pond Park and Moore Woodlands, and finally to Town’s End Preserve. Starting at the parking area for Bluff Point, the trail starts to the left by the composting toilets. Follow the main path ahead through areas of ledge, pass a gate and you will soon be parallel to the Amtrak tracks. To the right are some spectacular views of the upper reaches of Mumford Cove. The trail then veers slightly to the right and uphill. At the top of the hill turn left at the wooden steps and left again to cross the bridge. After crossing the bridge you have entered Haley Farm State Park. Just ahead is a gate to the right. Take the turn here, pass the gate and follow this trail. Following this trail will lead you to the main parking area for Haley Farm. Along the way you pass several small boulders and old farm stone walls before the trail turns into a stone dust path. A massive, and quite impressive stone wall will be to your left before coming to the open field just before the parking area. The trail continues to the left (north side of the parking area), however, though not technically part of the Cross Town Trail, it is well worth checking out while here. At the composting toilet is an opening at the wall. Follow the trail here and straight at the next intersection. The trail then turns to the left and back southerly. This small additional stretch is grass mowed through a field with an abundance of birds and thickets of berries and sumac. At the next intersection, continue pass the grass mowed trail to the left, pass the wood post with remains of a gate, and turn right following the trail slightly uphill flanked by a stone wall on the right. At the end of the stone wall there is a narrow trail on the right. Take this trail and follow it first through a cedar grove before passing a few stone walls. There is a trail split ahead just as a catch a glimpse of a pond. Stay to the right here and continue to follow the trail over a few boardwalks and pass Gibson Pond before exiting the State Park at Groton Long Point Road. It does not seem that blazes for the Cross Town Trail were allowed on State Property. At the time of this hike orange dots were observed at several points along the way. They were helpful, however it is very advisable to use GPS (particularly through State lands) in the event you may need to backtrack. Good news! The remainder of the trail is blazed blue through all of the remaining properties and there are trail maps at all the major intersections. Just be sure to keep an eye from blaze to blaze to assure you are on the right trail. Continuing ahead across Groton Long Point Road and slightly to the right you will come to the first blue blaze at Mortimer Wright Preserve. The trail winds up and down hill for the next couple miles passing beech groves, several stone walls, “frog crossings”, an esker and moraine, and streams as it passes the Wright Preserve and Merritt Family Forest. This stretch is absolutely beautiful and is well populated by deer, songbirds, and squirrels. The next half mile is road walking, crossing Fishtown Road, turning onto and following to the end of Rhonda Drive, right onto Farmstead Avenue, then right onto Judson Avenue. After Somersett Drive (on the left) start looking for the trailhead at Beebe Pond Park on the right. Follow the blue blazed trail once again through Beebe Pond Park and Moore Woodlands. This stretch can be a little rugged with rocky and root bound trails, so it is advisable to watch your step while walking and stop to take in the scenery. On the way out of the Beebe Pond Park is a massive stone wall to the right. It looks as it might have been part of a mill or dam. The trail then comes out to 850 Noank Road. This is a good spot for a second vehicle if you are going to car spot this hike. The Cross Town Trail then continues by turning left and following Noank Road for a couple hundred feet and the turning right at the gated Town Ends Preserve. The trail then ends about a tenth of mile into the preserve at Beebe Cove.

 

Map can be found at: Cross Town Trail.

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Mumford Cove at Bluff Point.

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Autumn at Merritt Family Forest

Poquonnock River – Groton

 

Just north of Bluff Point along Depot Road is a half mile boardwalk (one mile out and back) that runs along the Poquonnock River to Poquonnock Road. The boardwalk offers some views of the river itself as it winds behind a residential neighborhood. The boardwalk is a good location for spotting birds as there is quite a bit of brush for them.

 

Map can be found at: Poquonnock River

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Along the Boardwalk

Bluff Point – Groton

  • Bluff Point State Park And Coastal Reserve
  • Depot Road, Groton, CT
  • Trailhead:  41°20’8.76″N, 72° 2’0.90″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 14, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.6 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

Bluff Point State Park once made the CNN list of the 50 states natural wonders. Surprisingly enough, even though it has been on the to do list for quite a while, it took me a few years to finally venture down here to check it out. Groton is a long drive to most Rhode Islanders. Pack a lunch, make a daytrip out of it, get out of Rhode Island once in a while! This place is worth the drive. The park offers well defined trails and signage where needed. The trails are used by walkers, hikers, joggers, bicyclists, and horseback riders. Dogs are welcome but must be leashed. Starting just after sunrise from the seemingly large and nearly empty parking lot at the end of Depot Road we started following the wide gravel road trail just beyond the informational signs. The trail soon splits about one tenth of a mile into the park. Stay to the right here and continue along the main trail that follows the Poquonnock River. You then follow this trail for 1.3 miles until you reach Bushy Point Beach ignoring spur trails both narrow and wide. Along the way there are several spots that overlook the river and features in the distance. Across the river is the bustling Groton-New London Airport. There are views of the peninsulas and points that jut out into the river as well as the lighthouses further in the distance. The Avery Point Lighthouse at the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus is visible as well as the haunted New London Ledge Light. The trail also winds gently up and down small hills flanked by towering trees and passes some areas of marsh and wetlands. There are an abundance of birds here as well. Great blue herons, egrets, cormorants, hawks, robins, cardinals, and woodpeckers were all spotted on this hike. When we reached the beach we explored it for a few minutes. The beach itself extends westward for nearly a mile, but we only ventured in the area around the entrance. The beach is closed in areas during nesting season of least terns and piping plovers. Dogs and horses are not allowed on the beach between April and August. Back to the main trail we climbed up the small hill of the bluff. There are several spur trails to the edge of the bluff and the rocky beach below. The rocky shoreline makes for a good photograph and was also being used by a couple fishermen. Looking to the south you can see Fishers Island from here. Back on the main trail, it starts to wind to the east and then to the north passing Sunset Rock on the left before winding to a cellar hole at a trail intersection. The spot is well marked with a sign that explains that this was once the Winthrop Homestead, the former Connecticut Governor. After lingering at the cellar hole for a bit we decided to follow the less traveled trail to Mumford Cove. There is a sign here indicating which trail to follow. This trail winds downhill through an area of scattered boulders, tall trees, and a seasonal brook before coming to the cove. There are a couple spots along the trail to take a peek at the cove and rest your legs if you so choose. Continuing, now heading north, the trail becomes more of a grass road. There is a large wooded hill to the left and areas of thickets and shrubbery to the right. The trail soon ends at a gravel road that runs from Haley Farm to the parking area where this hike started. Turning left here, follow the gravel road to the large parking area where the car is park. The lot was nearly full when finished the hike. Bluff Point is a very popular recreation spot.

 

Map can be found at: Bluff Point.

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Boulder at Bluff Point

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Trail Flanked By Trees

Gungywamp – Groton

  • Gungywamp
  • Groton, CT
  • Trailhead: Undisclosed
  • Last Time Hiked: November 26, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.4 miles
  • Fairly easy guided hike, some hills.

 

This 250 acre, State of Connecticut owned and protected property, is the home of some of the most mysterious structures in New England. Speculations have for years been made about the origins of the structures. Some are believed to be colonial, some Native American, or very early European such as the Irish. The property is lined with ridges that were forged by the glaciers and there are countless large stones and boulders as well as occasional seasonal waterfalls. The ridges, with nearby swamps and ponds, make for a natural limited access to Gungywamp. This land is believed to be sacred land of the Native Americans and was clear like a prairie. Buffalo, caribou, and cougars were known to be in these parts long before European settlement. There are several sites of interest including a few small chambers with all that is remaining are the side walls and large triangular stones. These chambers have direct sight lines to one another. In one such chamber a Dutch colonial pipe was found. There are also the remains of a colonial house with a fireplace. Old property records indicate that Hannah Adams once owned the property. Coins from the 1740’s have been found on this site. There are the remains of an animal pen nearby built on a steep slope possibly used to pen sheep or goats. The really interesting structures are grouped together. A chamber, complete intact with roof, has construction that is similar to early Irish construction. This sparks the question of whether St. Brendan (484-577 A.D.) had made it to North America. Inscriptions of a Chi-rho, an ancient Christianity symbol, have been found on the property also leading to speculation of very early European exploration of the area. There is a calendar chamber nearby. The largest of the chambers, it has a small opening on the back side that allows the western sun into the chamber. On the equinoxes the beam of light illuminates a 6 x 6 foot side chamber. The use or meaning of the side chamber is unknown. Upon a nearby hill is a double row of circular stones. It is similar in ways to the way Stonehenge is set up. There are several speculations of its use. Maybe a fire pit where the Native Americans held council. Possibly a calendar of some sort. Grinding stones have been speculated. If you look at it closely, you can make out the shape of a turtle. A turtle was used quite predominantly as a symbol by local tribes such as the Pequots, Mohegans, and Nehantics. In 1647, John Winthrop, an English settler, reported a fortification near Pequot, therefore predating the colonists. A little further into the woods there is a row of standing stones. They are mostly triangular in shape with the points to the sky. The alignment is due North South. One of the stones has a pictograph of what looks like a raven. Just beyond that site are the cursing stones. It is two large boulders with several smaller stones placed upon them. It is possible that the stones were set as a curse against ones neighbor. The Native Americans were known to place stones in a pile before battle then removing the stone after battle. The stones of the soldiers who did not returned remained. It is also possible that the pile serves as a cairn for directional purposes as it lines up perfectly with a nearby ridge. Further into the woods is another fairly large foundation remnant. There are also smaller foundations in the area indicating that there was possibly a village here. The property is very intriguing and holds a very historical place among the woods of New England, mostly because of its mysterious beginnings and of its age. Therefore the property is not open to the general public unless led on a guided hike. The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center gives tours occasionally or by appointment.

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Circle of Stones

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Calendar Chamber (Note the light on the floor of the chamber)

Sheep Farm – Groton

  • Sheep Farm
  • Hazelnut Hill Road, Groton, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°21’21.83″N, 72° 1’21.21″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 30, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.3 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

This interesting property features a loop red blazed trail, a yellow trail, and a blue trail that cuts through the property. Fort Hill Brook is the highlight of this hike with its series of waterfalls. There are also remains of old mill sites throughout the property. The property is covered with scattered boulders and there is an open field with bird boxes.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Sheep Farm

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Falls at Fort Hill Brook