Monday, February 22, 2010

Centennial Watershed State Forest hike

Today is the last of the 40+ degree days for a while. A series of approaching foul weather systems is headed our way to remind us all that it's still February. It seemed a good time to squeeze in a hike on the Aspetuck Valley Trail.

The trail winds through the Centennial Watershed State Forest. The 15,300-acre forest was established in 2002 as a partnership between the Aquarion Water Company, the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection and The Nature Conservancy to conserve land for water supply protection and open space preservation.

The black arrows on the map above indicate my route. I estimate I hiked about 4.86 miles, which doesn't sound like an incredible distance, but the snow and ice underfoot, combined with the usual tree roots and rocks, slowed me down enough to extend my time on the trail to about 2 3/4 hours.

This was the only bit of open field on the hike, near the trail head parking lot.

This is more typical of how the trail looked for most of the walk. Mountain laurel was most abundant, and I made a mental note to return in May, when the shrub would be in bloom.

The snow made for slow going. It had been warm enough yesterday to continue the daytime melting process, but dropping overnight temperatures put a halt to the melting and turned the trail into a mix of hard snow, ice and, as the morning wore on, a slushy juice.

Still, the snow cover revealed other hikers and their four-legged companions who had passed here before me, and it was their tracks that made it much easier for me to stay on the trail. Sure, the trail was blazed, but from time to time, there were no blazes to be seen. When you're not sure you're on the trail, you start to look around and all you can see is trees and more trees. It begins to sink in that you could really get lost out here. Luckily, that didn't happen, but I did find it necessary to spend more time scanning bare ground in spots, searching for the more downtrodden leaf litter as a clue to where others had gone.

I love the look of lichen-covered boulders. I wish I could transplant one to my living room.

This rotting tree stump covered in club moss also held interest in an otherwise monotone landscape.

Here's an interesting log cabin on an old country road the trail paralleled for a portion of its length.

Here's a closer look at the cabin's sunny back porch. It's quite charming.

Hope you enjoyed the walk.


  1. This looks like a nice hike. Don't you just love how mosses and lichens shout out at this time of year?

    Thanks for stopping by at my blog. I've found a couple of fellow CT resident bloggers recently and added all to my blog list.

  2. Owl Hollow looks lovely. I found you through your comment at Joene's, and as another Connecticut gardener, I'm happy to have found this blog. I love your stairway to heaven (I've been wandering around your older posts). And the doublefile viburnum made me swoon. Mine is just a few years old and didn't bloom at all after I moved it last year. Hoping for something like what you have this Spring. I'm looking forward to reading more from Owl Hollow!