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Event Rating: Level 4, Strenuous - due to distance and HILLS! Yes, hills - see below
Recommended for members who have completed one or more Level 3 hikes
Distance: ~11.2 miles
Time Duration: ~5.5 hours (including car spotting)
Blaze Orange: recommended
The Nipmuck Trail extends 36 miles from Route 6 at the south end of Mansfield CT to the CT / MA state border. We will hike this trail in 4 sections, each one about 11.5 miles. (Yes I know the math doesn’t add up, I added in a few interesting / more challenging side trails to two of the shorter sections.) The terrain along this trail is easy to moderate most of the way, with a few bigger hills in the last two sections. These will be through hikes, spotting cars at the end and carpooling to the start. I will need a few volunteers to assist with carpooling.
Section 3 begins at the trailhead on Eastford Road in Ashford CT, and extends to Bigelow Hollow State Park, off of Route 171 in Union CT. We will park at Bigelow Hollow, then carpool to the trailhead on Eastford Road. (This is the same starting point as for Section 2.) I haven't hiked this section yet, but did some recon near the trailheads last Friday. I also found excellent trail maps with a topo base at:
The terrain here looks to be more challenging than Sections 1 and 2. I would call it moderate terrain, with several[masked] foot high hills. This section includes upland forest, hilltops, wetlands and smaller streams in the valleys. It is almost entirely in the Yale Forest, with few signs of civilization except for a few road crossings and some logging. Trail features include at least one vista, a point marked "Stream Under Rocks" and another called the "Proverb Stairs". We will reach the high point along the trail (1050 feet) at Coye Hill .This section of the Nipmuck is 9.5 miles long, so I added a 1.7 mile loop on the Bigelow Pond Loop trail at the end to bring it to 11.2 miles. This looks to be a flat trail with continuous views of Bigelow pond.
Directions from Ocean State Job Lot, Johnston RI to Bigelow Hollow State Park (link to map)
From the CT/RI border, follow Route 101 to Route 44 west in Pomfret Center. Follow Route 44 to Route 198 north in Eastford. Follow Route 198 to Route 171, turn left. Follow Route 171 to Bigelow Hollow State Park. Continue along the park road about 0.1 - 0.2 miles to the trailhead parking lot on the right.
Directions from Bigelow Hollow to Eastford Road Trailhead (link to map)
From Bigelow Hollow we will carpool west on Route 171, turn left onto Route 190. Follow Route 190 to I-84 west. Follow Route I-84 to the next exit (exit 72). Then take Route 89 south. Turn left to stay on Route 89. Continue straight onto Boston Hollow Road. Take the first right onto Eastford Road, and continue about 1/2 mile to the trailhead, where we will park along the road.
I strongly recommend printing out a map of the route and turn by turn directions from your starting location to the point on the map link above - cell phones and GPS aren't reliable out here, and when you lose the signal and don't have a map and the road signs are missing and you hear the banjos start playing, well that's when the frustration and unpleasant language begin.
As always, don't forget to dress properly - layers, waterproof breathable windbreaker, no cotton, sturdy hiking boots, etc. Bring plenty of water and some energy-boosting snacks to power through to the finish.
If there is interest we will go for a re-hydration/food stop afterwards. There are some good restaurants in Putnam. Its a half hour from the end point, but seems to be the first decent civilization heading toward RI.
As a condition of your voluntary participation in this activity you acknowledge and agree to the following: this activity involves inherent risks that can cause property damage, injury, illness, disability, and/or death to participants and/or others; you assume all risk associated with this activity; you are responsible for having the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities, clothing, and equipment to safely participate in this activity; you know and will follow the Hiker Responsibility Code described at www.hikesafe.com; the leader(s) of this activity are volunteers; and you for yourself, your heirs, executors, and administrators release, hold harmless, and indemnify the leader(s) and all members of this group from any and all claims for property damage, injury, illness, disability, and/or death - including those caused by negligence and/or other reasons.