Mattabesett Trail from Rt. 66 Middlefield to Mt. Higby

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Half Knot

New member
Mar 28, 2013
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Hebron, CT
What a glorius day to be out on the trail yesterday! My Mom (yet to earn a trail handle), 13 year old daughter Olympic Climber and I met Driver8 at the trailhead just past Guida's just after 10:15 AM. Thanks to Driver8's experience and great attention to detail, our initial walk up the switchbacks on the first climb were handled with relative ease. In short order, we found ourselves on the cliffs that parallel I-91 looking out on the southward views of Sleeping Giant and west toward the city of Meriden. Olympic Climber, being part billy goat, had a terrific time scampering among the rocks and looking for the highest advantage she could find.

By the time we reached Camel's Hump, we had terrific views to the south and west. A crystal blue sky and no clouds anywhere meant unimpeded views across the skyline to Chauncey Peak, Lamentation Mountain, East and West Peak, with Mount Tom and the western MA hills starting to come into sightline. We continued to the north and marveled through Preston's Notch. Just how in the world did those early Americans manage to get horses and wagons through a pass like that? Narrow, steep and rugged. And truly amazing!

We then ascended the other side to reach the North Summit. By the time we got there it was nearly noon. While Driver8 and I probably could have walked quite a while longer, whenever a child is involved to is eating! We stopped for a lunch at the summit. Really sweet views, though it was a bit on the chilly side. The breezes on the top of the cliffs were keeing temperatures down well into the 40's, and during gusts I'm sure the wind chill dipped toward the 30's. But we were all layered for it and it remained a comfortable hike throughout.

By the time we finished our lunch break it was just past noon. Olympic Climber and I had household chores we needed to do, so we had to watch our time. After one last quick jaunt up the former trail path (where it has not shifted from the north) for one last view from the cliffs, we took a side path and started our descent down. We walked the backside of the reservoir, which while it didn't have the stunning expanse of the cliffs still brought terrific views. Peacefully walking down a path watching ducks glide along blue water has amazing healing and restorative powers for the soul. And we certainly felt at peace along the way. The temps at the base were easily 10 degrees warmer with no wind. It was like a workout cooldown period. A chance to just easily stroll and reflect on the incredible beauty of the world around us.

We found our way through the woods and bushwacked the last 1/4 mile or so to get back to the trailhead where we parked. We would have loved to take one more quick side trip to Wadsworth Falls, but it was already about 2 in the afternoon and with what remained for us to do at home, about 45 minutes away, we needed to call it a day. We parted Driver8's delightful company, and headed back home with a side stop at Abbeez Frozen Yogurt in East Hampton (which I would highly recommend!) to reward ourselves for a marvelous day out.

Thanks for a terrific day out Driver8. We will definitely see more of each other on the trial this season!

Nice shot looking to the northwest - just look at that sky!
Great write-up, Half Knot. Enjoyed both y'all and the hike, which is one of the best in Connecticut. What a pretty day! Here are some pics.

First, Half Knot with Olympic Climber and his mom on the south end of CT's Camel's Hump - the south peak of Mt. Higby - all enthusiastic hikers and great company:


A shot northward along the Camel's Hump cliffs, with Olympic Climber in the foreground and HK's peripatetic mom forging ahead. I chose this one as my new FB cover photo:


A look down through a crack in the rugged cliffs of the Hump toward Chauncey Peak, home to a major trap rock quarry, mining basalt just like that we stand atop. Here, the cliffs are at their most dramatic, a good 400 feet high:


Still and yet some last remnants of snow on the trail, in Preston Notch between Higby's two main humps, surely drifts persisting where packed down on trail - note the additional white spot ahead to OC's left:


Yours truly, courtesy Half Knot, near Higby's summit:


One last shot across I-91, rest area just below, past Lamentation Mountain, over which the New England Trail continues after traversing Higby and Chauncey, to New Britain, Rattlesnake Mountain and beyond. Beautiful day for a hike - we covered about 4.6 miles - with variable winds on the cliff tops gusting to a hat-grabbing 30 mph, 15 sustained. Looking forward to many more hikes with the Half Knot Clan. :)

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Sounds like a wonderful hike! I am jealous to see all that snowless ground. It will be quite awhile yet before we see that in the Whites of NH. Good to hear your back on the trail again Driver 8. Nice photos. Congrats Half Knot and family, Driver 8 makes for good company for sure.
Sounds like a wonderful hike! I am jealous to see all that snowless ground. It will be quite awhile yet before we see that in the Whites of NH. Good to hear your back on the trail again Driver 8. Nice photos. Congrats Half Knot and family, Driver 8 makes for good company for sure.

Thanks so much, Chris. I've been out most weekends, in CT and MA, just haven't been able to get up further north to VT and NH. Hoping to soon, but it may have to wait 'til next month. How are your adventures going?