Local Trails: Nayantaquit Trail, Nehantic State Forest
Our Connecticut Forest and Park Association Blue-Blazed trail hikes continue on with Nayantaquit Trail in Lyme, CT. In the spring time this section of Nehantic State Forest is a birding hot spot. With it being only about 18 degrees and a few inches of snow on the ground we only heard a single bird and spotted a single raptor. We were the first humans on the trail since the previous day’s snow. This meant pristine, untouched trail. I guess I can’t totally say untouched because more than a few times we came across deer and rabbit tracks.
There are multiple trails and forest roads in Nehantic State Forest. We chose to park at the start of the Nayantaquit Trail on the northern end of Keeny Road, coming from Beaver Brook Road. There were tire tracks but no other people. Almost right away we came across a large glacial erratic. We are always amazed how these large, seemingly lonely, boulders got to be where they are. At a little less than a quarter of a mile we reached the intersection for the loop to begin. The Connecticut Walk Book recommends heading left toward Brown Hill; we went right toward Nickerson Hill.
The northern section of the loop is rolling trail through the forest. At one point we could tell that some beavers were taking over and setting up homes not too far off the trail. A local Boy Scout Troop had been kind enough to build and install a bridge this past spring over the stream leading to the beavers new home. This defiantly looked like a spot that could be very wet and muddy in the spring without that bridge.
Once up on Nickerson Hill we were able to see out to what I first thought was Long Island Sound. Once I zoomed in with my camera there appeared to be land on the other side so we figured it was the Connecticut River. Either way it was great to be able to see out in the distance that far. Without any leaves on the trees we were able to have more of a view of this distant body of water. Coming off Nickerson Hill there is a steep section that was slippery with a few inches of snow. I could also imagine that leaves would also make this slippery and why the Walk Book wanted us to go in the opposite direction. It isn’t that big of a deal but it would be easier to go up it than down.
We continued along and met up with one of the forest roads that had a port-a-potty along it. Seeing a random port-a-potty out in the woods is kind of funny. I could be wrong but I am guessing that it is there for the DEEP since it is an actively managed forest. Throughout the hike you will witness some of their work as you travel through different stages of forest development. The southern portion of the trail has gradual ups and downs and a few giant boulders to pass through. The Walk Book says the Nayantaquit Trail is 3.4 miles but both my father and myself had 3.6 miles showing on our GPSs. I guess this difference could be when we started our GPSs in the parking lot instead of right at the trailhead. If you are a bird watcher I highly recommend coming to the Nehantic State Forest in the spring and bringing your binoculars.