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Thread: The Mohawk Loop, 14-16 Apr. 2017

  1. #1
    Member Cumulus's Avatar
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    The Mohawk Loop, 14-16 Apr. 2017

    Several decades ago (I haven't been able to find the exact year) a section of the Appalachian Trail mostly in Cromwell and Canaan Connecticut was rerouted. The trail which was removed from the AT was renamed the Mohawk Trail, and is maintained by the CFPA. It, of course, connects to the AT at both ends. The Mohawk Trail together with the section of the AT in between its ends is known as the Mohawk Loop. That's what I hiked over Easter Weekend. It's 36.4 miles long, about two thirds of which is the Mohawk Trail.

    Friday 14 April

    Friday was a short day, about 7.5 miles. I started in the early afternoon. The weather all day was clear and warm. I had intended to park at the northern intersection of the AT and the MT, but even though there was parking nearby, I couldn't see anything clearly labeled as hiker parking, so I parked about a half mile south of that on the AT, just south of where it crosses the Housatonic in Salisbury. I then hiked south. The AT briefly follows the river, but then climbs up into the hills west of the river, soon crossing into Sharon. This whole section of the AT, including what I hiked on Saturday, is a nice hike up and down not very high Connecticut hills with occasional viewpoints. Unfortunately, for the first several miles it's within hearing of the Lime Rock Racetrack, and I could hear the constant roar of engines. After a while I got for enough south of the racetrack that it faded away, though, meeting a few fellow hikers on the way.

    Before long I got to Pine Swamp Brook Shelter, where I spent the night. PSBS is a real nice shelter, with a very good water source, a great privy, and a bear box. The only other person there that night was a guy named Dave, who tented. Dave was in the middle of a section hike comprising the N.Y., Conn., and Mass. parts of the AT.

    Saturday 15 April

    Saturday was my biggest day, about 15.3 miles. The weather was again clear and warm. I first continued south on the AT, which was much like Friday, but with even more people. After I got to the southern terminus of the Mohawk, though, I took it east and didn't see another person hiking the trail all day. I did see some hikers, though, as there was a group where the MT crosses Rte. 7 waiting for something, I guess more of their party. There's a short road walk along 7 there which crosses the Housatonic, followed by a road walk up a local dead end road called Dark Entry Road. That was the steepest road walk I've ever done.

    Then the trail enters the woods and follows Bonney Brook for a while. That was one of the prettiest parts of the trail. The trail would have been hard to follow there, though, if it weren't for the blazes. In general, the Mohawk is well maintained, but even where it's not it's well blazed, so there was never any problem keeping to it. After following the brook for a while, it's easy trail through the woods for a while, then it follows a ridge called Coltsfoot Mountain, then it drops steeply off the ridge, and then it pops out in a farm.

    After crossing the farm there's another short road walk, and then the trail goes through the Cathedral Pines, which are very tall white pines. After the Cathedral Pine area I came to the only place my map (from the CFPA Conn. Walk Book West 19th edition) was wrong. It had the trail coming out on Great Hollow Road and turning right, but when the trail came to a road the blazes had it going left. Luckily, there was a group of locals out for a walk just at that time, and with their knowledge I found out that the trail actually comes out on Essex Hill Road and goes from there to Great Hollow Road. Anyway, from GH Road it goes though another farm, a few woods, and the top of the Mohawk Mountain Ski area. There was still some snow on the ground on the ski runs.

    Soon after passing the ski area I came to Mohawk State Forest Leanto #3, which is where I spent the night. It's an OK place. It's close to a road, but the road has very little traffic, so that didn't bother me. I had gotten a (free) permit, which you're supposed to do, but nobody checked on me. I had the leanto to myself. It started raining lightly after I arrived.

    Sunday 16 April

    Sunday I hiked about 13.6 miles. It was a warm day. I didn't wear my jacket even while making breakfast. There was no rain until I was off the trail that afternoon.

    From the leanto the trail goes over several hills with steep but short approaches and more gradual descents. The best is probably the first, Red Mountain, because a ledge there, called Red Mtn. Ledge, has a nice view.

    There was also some areas which had been logged (but not clear cut) and some not too long road walks. Also a nice beaver pond which is not on the map, probably because it's too recent. At one point I actually ran into other hikers. At one point the trail starts following a dirt road (which was not clear from the map). There's a short relocation through the woods during this section which I took, and which is new enough that the old route's blazes are still there.

    Eventually I came to Reed Brook. While I was crossing it on a wooden footbridge I saw an otter splashing up the brook. I was thinking how cool it was to see an otter when I realized that I should probably take a picture of it. Unfortunately, I didn't get my camera out in time.

    Soon after that the trail goes through Dean Ravine. This is a great section. Reed Brook cuts a deep gash with a big waterfall and many other cascades. I'm surprised this exists in Connecticut and I'd never heard of it. A lot of other people have, though; I met a number of day hikers there.

    After that there's a short road walk, a short climb over a ridge, and the final mountain of the loop, Barrack Mountain. I remember thinking, "just a short up and down over this little hill, and it's an easy stroll to the car." Well, Barrack Mountain is deceptive. It's not too long, but the ascent is tough, especially on the third day of hiking with a full pack. But, of course, I made it, and there's a good (and at the time very windy) lookout there.

    Then I climbed steeply down, and it was a short woods walk to the AT, and about a half mile roadwalk to my car. On my way home it started pouring.

    Conclusion

    This is a very nice hike. It's not as dramatic or as challenging as the Whites or Dacks, but it has a lot of good sections, such as Bonney Brook, Coltsfoot Mtn., Cathedral Pines, Red Mtn. Ledge, Dean Ravine, and Barrack Mountain. And I saw several turkeys, a heron, an otter, and a number of farm animals.

    Here are the pictures.

    --

    Cumulus

    NE111 in my 50s: 115/115 (67/67, 46/46, 2/2)
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    "I don't much care where [I get to] --" said Alice, "-- so long as I get somewhere," ...
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    - Lewis Carroll

  2. #2
    Senior Member Jazzbo's Avatar
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    It was nice to be reminded of Cathedral Pines. Cathedral Pines used to be truly unique old forest grove of massive white pines. I heard the trees were wiped out by large wind event of some kind - micro-burst or tornado or something like that. I was fortunate to had the pleasure of visiting them 3-4 times before the storm hit. Trees you observed were the survivors. I could tell by the large amounts of open sky between the crowns of trees in your photo. Thankfully there are still some groves of giants scattered around western MA and elsewhere. Not to mention mature stands in protected lands that will in not too distant future come to rival them. With good water and soil conditions White Pines can grow 18"/year. Stands of white pines around Walden Pond in MA have bright future ahead of them for one (barring wind events) and will become fitting tribute to H Thoreau.
    Last edited by Jazzbo; 04-28-2017 at 06:18 AM.
    On #67 of NE67
    On #98 of NEHH
    On #44 of WNH48

    "You are only young once, but you can stay immature indefinitely." Ogden Nash (1902-1971)

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