Sunday, April 29, 2007

Birchbank Mountain OS94

"Birchbank Mountain" is what they call the steep riverbank north of Indian Well State Park. Responding to complaints about ATVs and paintball, I visited the open space, which is a big piece of land, and sure enough, I was greeted by a group of kids on dirt bikes and ATVs. Later on I blundered into the middle of an "airsoft" game, which is similar to paintball except they shoot plastic BBs.

As far as Shelton goes, the habitat along the riverbottom is unique to the Housatonic River. The typical Connecticut oak forest is replaced by a cool, moist floodplain forest, and it was just covered with wildflowers, especially Dutchman's Breeches (thousands) and trillium. You just don't see that anywhere else in Shelton.

At the bottom of the hill are a series of ponds on water company land, which is not posted. I got a great look at a pair of wood ducks, spectacular little ducks which nest in tree cavities and are rather elusive.

Upper White Hills Brook falls rapidly down the steep slope in a series of falls. Near the brook, just uphill from the Blue Dot trail, there is a big old chimney. I been told this may be part of the Monroe Gun Club meetinghouse that burned down in the 1960's.
See photos and video of my walk.
There are miles of illegal ATV trails on the property, but a couple of the trails are actually old colonial roads. The roadway along the bottom of the hill is called "Old Farm Road". You can see the beginning of the road from Indian Well Road, right where it crosses the RR tracks. Park there for good access to the open space. There was also a road that went up the slope to the White Hills, where presumably farmers grew produce and traveled the road down to the river, where they could ship their produce downriver. I'll be adding some "historic trail" plaques to these trails.
The park is getting some new signage and enforcement action to cut down on the ATVs and paintball games. What it really needs are some local volunteer landkeepers with cameras to walk the area routinely and take pictures of any harmful activities.

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