Heading out on a hike on a trail new to you can be a little worrisome. Will the trail be marked well? Is my map up to date? And if you are snowshoeing you wonder if anyone has been there before you or if you will have to break trail. Our plan for the day was to do a loop hike across the Mica Ledges on the Mattabesett Trail, linking up with some of the Singletracks of Rockland trails, and returning to our car via a fire road.
It was obvious right away that no one had been to the trailhead at Cream Pot Rd in Durham in a while. In fact the road wasn’t even plowed all the way down to the trailhead parking. After the parking area Cream Pot Rd becomes a fire road. A short distance later you should come across the Connecticut Forest & Parks Association’s blue-blazed Mattabesett Trail. Jayne and I both managed to miss the markings. (We will blame this on how bright it was with the sun reflecting off the snow.) I knew if you missed the trail we should be able to do the planned hike in reverse. According to a map I saw a few days earlier there was suppose to be a trail that brought us to a pond, at which point we could bushwhack over to the Rockland Trails. Once again, we missed this. We ended up at Dead Hill Rd and followed this south to the Rockland Trails. Finally, we saw a trail map and were pretty confused, but decided to keep going. At last we came to an intersection with arrows telling us where to go.
Victory… or so we thought. We followed this until we can to another intersection, this time with no trail markings or arrows. Urg, we took out our phones to see what our maps could tell us. I was looking at a compass feature for what direction we were headed and Jayne was trying to see if she could locate trails on hers. She saw that we weren’t that far from the Mattabesett and I decided that we needed to just go west. It’s easy to bushwhack in the winter and we would eventually come across the Mattabesett. As we went along we came across the trail in Rocklands that I had planned on using as a connector. Thank goodness for finding marked trails and a decent sense of direction. I would never say we were lost leading up to this, but we weren’t going exactly as planned. We were on an adventure, but happy to finally be on an actual trail.
There were no signs of humans on the Mattabesett Trail. We followed deer tracks and then we noticed coyote tracks. It was us and the wildlife. As we came out to one of the view points on the Mica Ledges I thought I saw a few dogs ahead of us on the trail. There are other hikers out here today! I then realized there was no hiker and it was actually a small pack of coyotes. Time to talk loudly and bang our trekking poles to make our presence known. Jayne was less than amused by this predicament, but I wasn’t overly concerned. Unless they were rabid we would be fine since we didn’t catch them off guard.
We decided to wait a few minutes to let them clear out before we continued on the trail. This time there were a lot more deer and coyote tracks. Further down the trail we came across the deer that the coyotes were most likely stalking. They bounded away, safe for another day. The Mattabesett Trail was well marked and easy to follow. The CFPA and their volunteers do a great job of keeping up the blue-blazed trails. Once over the ledges the trail turns east and back into the woods. There was one more highlight before heading back to the trailhead, the Pyramid. The Pyramid is a fantastic glacial erratic right along the trail. I’m sure it is much more impressive when the snow is all gone and you can see its base. As we headed back to the car we both agreed to come back in the summer so we could see the rock ledges that give Mica Ledges its name. Perhaps we will explore Single Tracks of Rockland some more too.