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  1. #1
    Registered User Driver8's Avatar
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    Default Fun Side Trails and Nearby Points of Interest Along the New England Trail

    This is a thread where people can share about side trails and points of interest which aren't right on the trail but are a nearby walk.

    I've run into several worth mentioning, but I'll start with my home base - Talcott Mountain. The system of trails near on this mountain has a number of nice things to see near the NET. First, near Heublein Tower, there are a number of things worth a quick walk to the trail's side.

    Hoe Pond - just south of the NET, via the paved access road to the Tower near the top of the ridge or via a herd path maybe 100 yards northbound of the road crossing near the summit. This pretty glacial tarn can be seen from the road, or nearby it, or from a bluff above it on the herdpath, past an abandoned and rotting old party gazebo, especially in the colder parts of the year when the leaves are down.

    King Philip's Cave and the top and the underside of Talcott's cliffs. If you take the more-frequently-traveled Tower Path northward from the Tower (coincides with the NET for about 0.2 mi then splits left (NNW) off from it NOBO, and you follow it past the hang glider point, hugging, NOBO, along the tops of the cliffs - great views - at the northern end of this wide, open trail, about a mile north of the tower, the trail takes a sharp right turn (ESE) off the ridge. There is a herd path which continues north from this point. Two neat things to check out. About 120 feet northward (I've stepped it off), there's a spot left with a short herd path beaten to it (WSW). From this perch, atop the cliffs next to a cedar tree, you get a spectacular view north to Mt. Tom and the northern reaches of the Farmington Valley into Mass. It's just about the only place at ground level on the ridge of Talcott where you can see Tom. Mind your footing here, but the awesome view is worth taking a bit of care to take it in.

    Heading further north, a couple hundred feet, at the base of a 15' high scrambly pitch, you can take a scrambly herd path left to the north end of the base of Talcott's cliffs, which run south for about a mile from this spot. The main unmarked trail you've just come off continues about a quarter mile down to the end of the paved northern state park access road.

    About a football field south along this herd path - steep and dangerous terrain, but the footing's good - you'll find the first, smaller, of two caves. It's about a 10' scramble up into it. Just another 75 feet south, around a bend, looking up, you'll see, high up in the cliffs, maybe 70' up, the famed King Philip's Cave. Further hiking southward on the rough herd path at the base of the cliffs gives more treasures and finds. The basaltic cliffs themselves are, to my mind, the biggest treat - very photogenic. Personally, I've gone about half a mile south on these trails, leaving more yet to be explored. One fun challenge, which could be dangerous, is to find a spot where you can scramble or rock-climb from the base of the cliffs to their top. I've done this at a scrambly, non-technical spot with success and tried it at another spot and had to turn back.

    One other thing to note: southward from the hang glider point is a very pretty unmarked trail which traverses along the top of the cliffs and has many side turn-offs which offer superb views from the cliff tops. Definitely worth a visit, or several.

    Further south on Talcott Mountain, on MDC water company property and just off the NET, are the Kilkenny Rocks, really pretty, and near that, downhill and to the east, are several MDC reservoirs with various trails/roads through the area, some paved, most not. Very popular and pretty place.

    Northward on Talcott, in Penwood Park, on the west side of Lake Louise, from a trail which skirts its west side (the NET skirts the east), the outlet brook from the lake, about 100 feet west of the lake, goes over a small bluff in a very pretty small 15' waterfall, which is worth a visit when waters are running high.

    Anyhow, those are a few highlights of the Talcott Mtn area near the NET. Please share here others you have found. Thanks!
    The more miles, the merrier!

    NH4K: 21/48; N.E.4K: 25/67; NEHH: 28/100; Northeast 4K: 27/115; AT: 124/2191

  2. #2
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    Glad I get your hidden side trails before doing that section! Haha

    Unfortunately, I don't live close by the NET, so no hidden secrets here!

  3. #3
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    I'll be going from Penwood State Park, south, Farmington Ave. tomorrow! Weather looks good & with any luck, we'll find some of the spots you've highlighted!

  4. #4
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    The NET's southern terminus is near Jacobs Beach in Guilford. From the starting point, you will hike north on Whitfield Street and will pass the oldest standing stone structure in New England, the Henry Whitfield House (at the intersection of Old Whitfield Street and Stonehouse Lane). You can either continue straight on Whitfield Street, which will take you to Guilford's beautiful and extremely well-preserved town green, or you can take Stonehouse Lane and then Lovers Lane.

    If you decide to take Whitfield Street to the Green and then take a right on Boston Street (this is where the NET goes), you'll pass the Hyland House and then a bit later at the intersection of Boston Street and Lovers Lane will be the Griswold House. All three of these historic houses are definitely worth a look.

    As you continue north on the NET (across Rt. 1, up Tanner Marsh and then to Nut Plains Rd.) you will come (at Sullivan Drive) to the East River Preserve, a 583 acre open space parcel that borders one of the few remaining salt marshes on the entire East Coast. It's pretty and easy hiking.

    I love my town and it's at its best in the summer!

    Jane

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