Local Trails: Higby Mountain
It is kind of hard to believe that you are in Middletown, CT when you reach the summit of Higby Mountain. At 892 feet the Higby Mountain summit isn’t the main attraction. While it does have a nice open view looking out to the western part of Connecticut, most people hike along the 60+ mile Mattabesett Trail on Higby Mountain for the continuous, steep traprock ridges with endless views.
I first tried searching the internet for more information about Higby Mountain before setting out. I wasn’t satisfied, mostly because I couldn’t find a map, so I headed to our Trailblazer Branford store and picked up a copy of the Connecticut Forest & Park Association’s Connecticut Walk Book: West. The book is a great resource with maps and descriptions of the CFPA Blue-blazed trail system. After looking at the map we decided to get a little more hiking in by parking near New Guida’s Restaurant at the intersection of Route 66 and Route 147 in Middlefield. This adds 0.5 miles each way, but it is flat and you can get a well deserved milkshake at New Guida’s Restaurant when you are finished. If you don’t want to add the extra distance there is a hiker’s parking lot on the north side of Route 66.
Once you reach the intersection with the trail to the parking lot you will start heading uphill on a fairly steep section. This section of trail isn’t long but it can be slippery if icy or wet. When you reach the top you will start to see views out to the west. Within a mile of starting our hike we were out on the ledges with views south to Long Island Sound and north to Massachusetts. The hike along the ridge is wide enough that you don’t have to be near the edge if you don’t want to be. If you aren’t super brave but still want to see just how steep the traprock ridge is you can always strap a GoPro to the end of your hiking pole like I did to get the video below.
This hike is quite popular due to the fantastic views so expect to see other people up there. You may even encounter a mountain biker or two. Some people only take a short hike to the first few sections of traprock ledges while others continue on. We wanted more mileage and to get to the highest point of Higby Mountain so we continued along the Mattabesett Trail. The trail dips down a little into a section called Preston Notch. Here again you will encounter some short, steep sections but nothing crazy. The trail is more closed in while in the notch until you are near the northern end of Higby and its 892 ft high point. From here you will have a good view of the quarry at Chauncey Peak across I-90 to the west. If you want to continue on you could do a car spot at Country Club Rd which would give you a 4.2 mile one way hike. Or just back track like most people do.
The wind had picked up tremendously for our hike back. The good thing was that it was blowing up the ledges and there was no concerns about being blown off. I have to admit there were some pretty strong gusts that made me stumble a few times. We did stop a few times to see how far we could lean into the wind and got pelted with flying leaves. Altogether our hike ended up being 5.5 miles. We rewarded ourselves with lunch after at Guida’s including a delicious chocolate milk shake.
To get a real feel of how steep the traprock ridges are at Higby Mountain check out our video: