Tunxis Mainline Trail: Section 3
Burlington, 5 miles, with Rob Y
November 16, 2008
It had been nearly a full seven months since my last Tunxis Mainline foray with Rob Y. Back in April, we hiked through an actual forest fire. On the leg prior, we slipped and slid over an ice covered path. When Rob originally agreed to hike the Mainline Tunxis with me, we decided to do it during cold and snow.
Once we realized that the timing of such events is impossible to predict, and never seemed to fall on convenient Sunday mornings for our hikes, we gave that up and figured to only hike during forest fires.
Then, of course, we realized that was (hopefully) a one-time event – so we adjusted our expectations. Now it’s more like, “Let’s just get out in the woods whenever our schedules, wives, and kids allow.” So that’s what we’ll be going with from here on out. As luck (?) would have it, this short and easy section was plagued with the harrowing natural phenomena known as light winds and wet leaves. Spoiler alert: We survived.
Rob and I spotted a car on Route 4 (the same place I hiked from when doing the North/East Tunxis Regional trails) and then drove to where we last left off; Sessions Woods Nature Center.
Which reminds me, for such a nice and quite large nature center, I find it absurd that it isn’t open on weekends. Granted, the miles of trails all around it are always open (just be careful of the hunters), but I think it’s crazy that this place is always closed. Anyway, at 7 AM on a Sunday morning, Rob and I were only looking to hike.
I’d warned Rob that this section would be quick and rather featureless. I’d already done some of it out of necessity while completing the regional Tunxis trails and knew from the maps that much of this stretch was along old woods roads. No matter, it’s always good to hike with Rob as the conversation is always good. That… and he’s willing to meet up with me at 7 AM on a seasonal, cloudy Sunday morning. Always a plus.
My low expectations proved spot-on as we simply walked along wide trails and barely changed altitude. We crossed Whigville Brook on two railroad ties that apparently have the name “Baba’s Bridge.” I don’t know why. It was around this time I realized that I could make this whole section a photographic study of Rob’s back. I seemed to be taking a lot of pictures of that particular subject.
We crossed the Orange Dot Trail that takes one to Devil’s Kitchen at an intersection in the woods named “Clark’s Corners.” This is interesting in that no one lives here, but it has a name like someone does. Weird.
After that and a short hike up Cornwall Road which is merely a wide dirt path, we hit the paved end of Cornwall Road and the large house someone is building there. It’s cute how he had to knock down 800 trees to build his house out here in the woods of Burlington – as has had that dumpster here at least since April. The trail leaves the road, crosses another little stream, then ascends slightly up into Nassahegan State Forest and the intersection with the Green Dot Trail.
A jog to the east, a short descent down to Stone Road (which is actually a crushed stone road – I wonder if they purposely don’t pave it for that reason) and then a short road walk north.
Why does the trail go so far east, only to go north along a road and then back west into the woods when it simply could have gone northeast with the same grade, in the same state forest? Aha! Such is the beauty of our trails here in Connecticut! For if the Tunxis merely did that, we’d not be able to experience the following:
In 1934 the federal government built a camp here for elderly itinerant men. This “jail” is the only remaining camp structure and as you can see, is a fun place for kids to spray paint and drink beer. There is a fairly deep little pit here too, in which Rob and I saw a bunch of computer cleaning spray cans. It’s exciting to know that there are huffers in the Burlington woods. Seriously, is there any worse way to get high than inhaling toluene? Ugh… Kids, get some help.
That’ll tell ‘em.
The second half of our hike was all within the Nassahegan Forest and stayed clear of roads. It crosses a few, but doesn’t hike along any save for the 100 yards on Punch Brook Road. There are some highly unnecessary ups and downs of course, “just to let us know how outof-shape we are,” in Rob’s words.
As I mentioned, the ever-present danger of slippery wet leaves tormented us with every step. There was only one short steep section where each of us had the camera at the ready in case the other slipped, ensuring minutes of hilarity. However, neither of us bit it and we continued northward.
The wet leaves menace!
There is a pretty cool little area here, south of the White dot intersection, south of the Punch Brook Trail intersection, and north of the logged area. About 15 years ago a near-tornado swept through here knocking down all the larger trees for the most part. So now, the regeneration is in full swing and it’s kind of interesting to explore. Also, because there are no trees, there’s actually a slight view north where there really shouldn’t be one.
After that, we hiked down towards the state fish hatchery land (CTMQ Visit here!) and outflow and then up out of the woods to our waiting car.
No, not the most exciting section (and I hear the next 7 mile section is worse – but the 21 or so miles after that are some of the most beautiful and remote in the state) but still an enjoyable outing. The Burlington Trails are best enjoyed in various loops with a knowledge of the local history I think.
Still just waiting for Rob to slip and fall…
After this hike, Rob dropped me off and I completed the 3 mile Nature Center Connector piece of the Tunxis in Burlington – the last three miles of the 30 or so in Burlington. Over the year I took to knock out all of the Tunxis here, I came to really enjoy this unique town in central Connecticut that stubbornly sticks to its rural roots far more than any other town in the greater Hartford region.
The Tunxis Trail in Burlington (Mainline in blue, of course).
Mainline Section 3 Approximate Breakdown:
0.0 Miles: Sessions Woods parking lot
0.1 Miles: Route 69 crossing
1.0 Miles: Orange Dot Trail junction
1.6 Miles: Green Dot Trail junction
2.5 Miles: Stone Road (Red Dot trail junction)
2.7 Miles: Itinerant Jail
3.3 Miles: Punch Brook Trail south junction
3.6 Miles: Punch Brook Road
4.6 Miles: Punch Brook Trail north junction
4.8 Miles: White Dot Trail north junction
5.0 Miles: Route 4