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Thread: Indian Brook and Colchester Pond VT- April and May 2014

  1. #1
    Member Greenmountaingoat's Avatar
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    Indian Brook and Colchester Pond VT- April and May 2014

    Over the past month or so, I've been exploring and mapping the trails in Essex and Colchester VT in the areas around Indian Brook Reservoir and Colchester Pond.

    Indian Brook Conservation Area is owned by the Town of Essex. There is a main trail that loops around the reservoir that is well mapped, running mostly in the woods on a very open trail. It's about 2 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain. It's heavily used by people walking their dogs and occasional mountain bikers. Access to the park at the main gate is by pass only during the summer season. There are several more trails that surround the park that are not well mapped or marked and I set out to find them as well as the trails that connect to Colchester Pond.

    Colchester Pond is a natural area owned by the Winooski Valley Park District. It also has a nice trail that loops around the pond though it's a little longer and has a bit more elevation gain- 3 miles and roughly 250' of elevation gain. The trail passes through open fields for the first half a mile or so in either direction from the trailhead with nice views across the pond.

    The two park areas adjoin and I had heard that it was possible to hike from one to the other. I did a bit of web research and didn't find anything showing connecting trails. I did find maps on the Town of Essex website for the other trails around Indian Brook which I found to be mostly accurate but with a couple of errors and a trail or two missing. I also saw some ledges (North of Indian Brook) on google earth that I thought would have nice views. With these hikes being only a couple of miles from my house, I thought it would be great to have something so close by with nice long range views and no crowds.

    The outer loop trail at Indian Brook is more or less as per this map:

    http://http://www.essex.org/vertical...0225CD8%7D.PDF

    A few notes about this map:

    • The Parking lots are not well illustrated. There are three lots. When you drive in, the lot on the left is below the dam for access to the western side of the trails, straight ahead is the lot for the swimming area and to the right (North) is the canoe access/ East side trails.
    • The access to the trail that has the nice overlooks on the eastern side is on the Southeast corner of the northernmost of the three parking lots ("canoe access"). About 10 minutes up this trail, there is a left turn at a stone wall that isn't well marked. I found the whole outer loop to be a very nice trail
    • I didn't find the spur trail to the Lussier Property.
    • There is an easily followed herd path between the scouts point and the north point that is much nicer walking than the main loop trail.
    • The trail shown on the map following the stream on the northern third of the map does not exist. There is however a very nice herd path leading from the overlook at the beaver pond north to the outer loop trail. It follows the eastern edge of the main beaver pond and upper ponds.


    Connecting to Colchester Pond and the upper ledges:

    Off of the sharp turn at the northwestern corner of the outer loop trail, there is a very short herd path leading through the fence into the WVPD land. Once youíre in WVPD land, there is a blue blazed path that follows the eastern edge of a beautiful remote pond (with osprey nest). As the path rounds the Northern edge of this pond and heads Northwest, the blue blazed trail and the herd path diverge a bit. The blue blazing follows old woods roads while the herd path follows the edge of the ponds more closely (much prettier and dryer trail).

    Both trails lead a short distance to the Northeastern edges of the next ponds which has another osprey nest. Both trails then head more or less Northwest and intersect with an old woods road. A 20 minute walk (North) up the woods road leads to a beautiful open ledge over-looking the Champlain Valley. I havenít explored past this point yet but hope to find the other pond and ledges visible in google earth.

    Backtracking almost to the last pond, a herdpath leads West through the crest of the ridge and drops to another north/south woods road. We went South for a short distance and relocated the East/West blue blazing. The blue blazing leads West but I donít know if I would call it a trail. There is no worn footpath to speak of but it does manage to find some of the less steep areas leading down a series of steep ledge faces. It eventually crosses a stream (between two beaver ponds), over a small ridge, another stream (between beaver ponds) and lastly up and over a ridge, heading Southwest and ending at the main Colchester Pond trail.

    The location if the blue blazed trail (off of the Colchester Pond loop trail) is only a short distance North from the last field on the East side of Colchester pond (assuming youíre headed counter clockwise around the pond).

    All in all, this made for a very pleasant spring/ mud season project that was a nice warm up for some bigger hikes to come this year. We saw dozens of different types of wildflowers in bloom. Most of the exploration was done in a series of evening hikes. I still hope to continue exploring a few of the trails that were leading north in hopes of finding the other ledges and beaver pond. Anyone that would like me to email them my map (or has their own maps or experiences to share), contact me.

    Greenmountaingoat at gmail.com

  2. #2
    Junior Member VT_Wampa's Avatar
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    I live near these spots and have hiked them many times! I have had a great time bushwhacking around and exploring back there. In the winter I like to snowshoe out on colchester pond while the wind is howling!

    I've seen to BIG mother beavers back there! =)

  3. #3
    Member Greenmountaingoat's Avatar
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    I finished mapping out the blue trail and some of the other trails in that area.

    I checked in with the WVPD about the blue blazed connector trail and they're not really excited about it. Their mission statement:

    The Winooski Valley Park District's mission is to plan, acquire, and manage lands and waters within the boundaries of its member municipalities in the Winooski River Valley for purposes of conservation, preservation of natural areas, establishment of parks, and resource-based education and recreation.

    They see the areas that the blue trail traverses as areas of fragile habitat for some rare(er) large mammal species that they're trying to preserve. They don't really want to encourage folks to use that trail. The two parks (CPNA and IBP) have very different rules. IBP requires a pass (purchased at the Town of Essex), allows off leash dogs and allows hunting in prescribed areas. CPNA is free but does not allow hunting or off leash dogs. They have apparently struggled with how exactly to monitor usage of a marked, mapped connector trail. Specifically, off leash dogs and their impact on wildlife.

    So with that in mind, I can't in good conscience release my maps. At some point, I'll check in with Town of Essex on releasing new better maps for Indian Brook.
    NH 31/48 ADK 26/46 NE 65/115

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