Sunday, October 11, 2009

Quinnipiac Trail: York Mtn and Mad Mare's Hill

I continued my exploration of Connecticut's First Trail by spotting a car at Downs Road and getting dropped off at Kimberly Road in Hamden, just a bit west of Sleeping Giant. We had trouble locating the trail from Kimberly, since new construction had apparently eradicated any blazes you can see from the road, but after walking a bit behind a likely-looking gate, I found a blaze and was on my way. I climbed gradually up Rocky Top and soon came to this little surprise.

A bit further, and some logging had created some beautiful meadow/brushland, but where in the blazes were the blazes??? I searched the edge of the clear-cut in vain, with difficult footing due to the heavy brush. Finally I fired up the gps and started bushwacking towards the road, at which point I discovered the trail.
The trail follows a roadway for spell, then heads into the woods, onto another road, back into the woods and straight up York Mountain, where the view of New Haven was nearly as good as at Sleeping Giant.

As the trail followed the ridgeline, I looked for the Regicides Trail coming in from West Rock Park, but I couldn't find it. Hmmm. It threw me off, as I had expected it to be well-marked.

The trail weaves oddly back and forth between Hamden and Bethany here.

I'm guessing that's Lake Watrous down below.
More and more views - Lake Watrous(?) to the right of West Rock Ridge, and New Haven to the left of the ridge (not shown).
You know how kids roll on those shoes called Heelies? I did that on acorns. Just rolled down the trail on my feet. The nuts were everywhere.

This section of trail needs more blazes. I got tired of not being able to find either the next blaze or the trail tread. I had another "lost" moment, unable to find the next blaze and wondering where in heck the trail was, so I sat down to examine my gps again. Almost to West Woods Road and Bethany Gap! The trail was supposed to take a left around there and descend, so I looked left and found it.

I crossed the road and huffed and puffed up the steepest climb of the day to Mad Mare's Hill at 720 ft. More views. Continuing along the ridge line I stopped to admire this frozen Garter Snake on the trail. The dog walked practically right over it and it still didn't move.

Some mushrooms were growing out of a log. All that scene needed was a chipmunk

These remnants of an old cabin were unexpected. I bet whoever lived here had a spectacular view, but it's a bit overgrown now.

From there, the trail gradually descended over a couple of miles to Downs Road. This was my favorite part of the entire hike.

Even though it was a Sunday in October with great weather, I didn't see a single person on the trail the entire day, and for the most part couldn't hear human noises either. If you want to escape the crowds and enjoy some great views, this is the trail for you, so long as you don't mind a few hills and can deal with a shortage of blazes.


hikeagiant2 said...

Hi Theresa - Rocky Top was once a resort area with cabins and a deep artisian well - Dickerman tried something like this on the 4th ridge of Sleeping Giant, but (sadly, for him, gladly for us) there was no water to be found. On Good Friday, 1927 there was a huge fire that burned from noon to sunset. Your fireplace photo is probably what's left.
We hiked York and Mad Mare's yesterday (2/5/12) and wondered about that cottage in the laurel grove. If I find out anything I'll let you know.

Iris said...


Dave Cook said...

I hiked the entirety of this trail from Monday (9/16) at noon until yesterday at 2pm. I camped right near the old building ruins along mad mare ridge. I was wondering of you had any other information on that? I've tried looking for some. It's located near the end of (one of the) Downes Road(s) in Bethany/Hamden. A google search only brought me property listings and ghost stories about the unfinished section of Down(e)s.

Side note: the southern trailhead of the QT at Quinn River SP is completely impassable. There are no signs about its condition until you reach the next road intersection where it passes under rt 15 at Toelles Rd. The signs on this end read "this section of the quinnipiac trail in the quinnipiac river state park (between Banton st and Toelles Rd) is experiencing significant overgrowth and high water in the river floodplain. In many places the trail is not passable and we DO NOT RECOMMEND HIKING THIS SECTION of the trail until further notice"

Needless to say, after 1 hour of seeing barely any blazes, knee high in prickers/spiderwebs I hit the gas pipeline cut, bushwhacked my way to the highway and walked the shoulder until Toelles Rd.