Saturday, October 11, 2014

Moonlight Meander

A high turnout made our annual moonlight hike a notable success this month. Our group consisted of 33 adults, one 3rd Grader, and 11 dogs of assorted breeds (this count did not include any chipmunks or black bears that may have discreetly followed).

Click on photos to enlarge

We gathered just before dark at the Real Estate Two parking lot and were pleasantly surprised at the large turnout. Many of the hikers were first-timers to any of our trail events
Posing for a group photo was a challenge, what with the diminishing daylight and the cheap camera
Terry, our cruise director, led the way along the Rec Path, through the meadow and woods to the turn-around point at the power lines. Fortunately, he also knew the way back

The main attraction
Somehow, we made it back without loosing anyone (at least no "missing persons" reports were filed!)
The route. The round trip, start to finish, was 3.5 miles, slightly uphill on the way out, but of course downhill on the return



We concluded that this year's moonlight hike was a notable success, judging from the positive feedback by many of the participants. Your Trails Committee members guiding this outing were chairman Bill, Lynn, Sandie, Terry, and Richard. Check the "Hikes and Special Events" page on the left of this blog for upcoming neat stuff. And we won't turn away anyone volunteering to help us maintain these trails, either. Our work parties are listed under "Work Parties & Meetings" in the same area.



Friday, October 10, 2014

New Paugussett Kiosk on Buddington Rd

The Paugussett trailhead on Buddington Road
Here is the 25th Eagle Scout project for our trails, courtesy of Mark Sullivan: a new kiosk for the Paugussett Trail on Buddington Road. That trailhead has been difficult to find for many people, but it should be pretty easy to spot now. This location marks the southern terminus of the trail, which extends north through Shelton Lakes, Indian Well State Park, Birchbank Mountain, and Webb Mountain before heading up to an overlook of Lake Zoar, then turning south to follow Monroe's Boys Halfway River down to East Village Road. The total journey is about 13 miles.   Here's the trailhead location on Google Maps

Mark also somehow managed to breakup a pile of solidified road millings and spread it around the parking area. We aren't sure how this was accomplished, because the pile was like a rock, having partly melted in the hot sun. 


Installing the kiosk roof
 Unlike our other kiosks, the contents will be determined by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA), who manages the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System.  The Paugussett extension/restoration project completed by city volunteers was accepted by CFPA just last year, and now shows up on CFPA interactive trail map

Mark Sullivan
  We especially like the routered sign placed across the top of the kiosk with the name of the trail. Nice job!

Routered sign at the top

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Shelton Day 2014

It turned out to be a pleasant day for a street fair, and the Shelton Trails Committee was ready with our handouts, trails-wise attendants, Pedro the Jackalope, and a Piñata raffle.

Click on photos to enlarge

Sandie sets up our displays and handouts while Bill checks out the butterfly piñata to be raffled  
Lynn, Terry, Jim, and Bill await the throngs. We started early! 
 

New for us this year was a raffle. The butterfly pictured was filled with almost 7 lbs. of candy! For the record, the lucky winner was Sue
Pedro, our resident jackalope, was a hit with the kids and curious adults


 Lynn's mini-pooches were on hand to provide cuddling practice for many of the kids that passed by. Lynn also provided rub-on tattoos for the children





Sheri answered questions and provided directions to the many people that stopped by
Bill and Richard take their turns minding the store

We had a great time, met and hopefully assisted lots of folks, and added an impressive number of names to our list of those interested in our activities and work parties.




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

It's Baaaack!

A few years back, an anonymous party left a nice bench at the Rec Path parking area On Constitution Blvd. Your Trails Committee decided to place it next to the bridge overlooking the Silent Waters reservoir, where it provided a place to relax with a great view. It was enjoyed by many, but trusting as we were, we did not secure it. Vandals eventually decided it would be fun to deprive the public of a rest area and tossed it over the bridge. Fortunately, it landed in some heavy brush below, and we were able to retrieve it and keep it from harms way until it could be replaced.

Last Saturday we were able to restore and secure the bench. Hopefully, folks will get to relax and enjoy the scenic view and the goons will stay away. If you should see anyone tampering with this or any other trail items, please notify the police.

Click on photos to enlarge


Trails Committee members Jim, Terry, and Richard position the bench.

Rich digs one of the holes for the bench leg bases.


Rocks! Official New England crop! Terry helps open the hole.
Jim aligns the steel bar that will anchor the bench in concrete.
Terry adds water to the cement mix.

The bench is restored and ready for the next weary hiker!

  


Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Trail on Beech Tree Hill


Shelton has a new access trail in the White Hills, courtesy of Luke Claire from Boy Scout Troop 27 as part of the Eagle Scout program.   Although the property is small -- only 4.5 acres -- and the trail is only 500 feet long, it leads to a scenic pond that was previously inaccessible to the general public. 

OS #64-04  
The open space has plenty of frontage along both Pine Tree Hill Road and Beech Tree Hill Road, but it's nearly impossible to walk through the dense vegetation in many places, especially along Pine Tree Hill Road. The new trail begins on Beech Tree Hill Road, between houses #36 and #40. 




The footing was rather rough, so a thick layer of wood chips was spread across the trail. 



Tuesday, September 16, 2014

You're Bluffing!

The Bluff Walk Trail is an easily accessed hike close to downtown Shelton but presenting a quiet and picturesque view of the Housatonic Dam. One section of the trail skirts two ball fields, and narrows between the outfield fences and a steep drop. This section tends to become overgrown quickly, and our work party's goal was to open up this path as well as clear the leaf litter that had gathered on the length of the trail over the summer.

Shelton Trail Committee Chairman Bill and members Terry and Richard were joined by volunteers Mike, Mary Beth, and Anthony on this Saturday. Committee member Sandie was our photographer.

Click on photos to enlarge

Knotweed, tons of it

Grapevines

Japanese Knotweed, Poison Ivy, Wild Grapes, and assorted brambles and choking vines obstructed the trail behind the baseball outfield fences

Bill uses power shrub trimmers to tackle the weeds....

...while Richard swings a machete

Mike fires up the leaf blower. The trails had a residue of fallen leaves left over from the previous Autumn

Mary Beth tries to find a place under the rug to hide all the cut vegetation
Anthony used most of the tools at hand in his efforts
The trail went from this...

...to this by the time we were through

Another productive Saturday, made possible with the help of volunteers. We hope to see some new faces pitching in at our next work party. Join us!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Do We Have Rattlesnakes?

Do we have rattlesnakes along the trails?  We don't know. Here's what we do know:
  • A total of three four rattlesnake sightings have been reported at Shelton Lakes over the past six years. Three sites were along the powerlines between Shelton Ave and Buddington Road, a fourth was several years ago near where the Intermediate School now stands. These reports have been forwarded to the CT DEEP.
     
     
  • Some snakes, including Black Rat Snakes and Hognose Snakes, mimic rattlesnakes as a defense mechanism (the above video is a harmless Black Rat Snake, while the one below is a Hognose Snake).  They may rattle their tails in dry leaves to make a rattle sound, or mimic the sound of a rattle with a particular type of hiss. Hognose snakes can also make their head appear freakishly like a cobra. Black Rat Snakes are very common at Shelton Lakes (they can be 5 or 6 feet long). Not sure if we have any Hognose Snakes or not.

  • The known range of the Timber Rattlesnake in Connecticut currently does not include Shelton. On the other hand, the Shelton Lakes/Nells Rock region has always been remote, with lots of rocky places for snakes to hide. The area had relatively little farming and was used instead for charcoal production.  So you never know.
Known Timber Rattlesnake Range (CT DEEP)

  • What if there really are Timber Rattlesnakes in Shelton?  No need to worry. Just think twice about sticking your hand in a rock crevice (I'm talking to you, Geocachers and Letterboxers).  These snakes are endangered in CT and should be treated with respect.  If you do see a snake you think might be a rattlesnake, please try to get a photo of it without endangering yourself, especially a high-quality photo of the tail, and forward that info my office at conservation@cityofshelton.org. Also take some photos of the snake at a distance or that include some recognizable distinct feature that can be verified (to prove that the photo was taken at that location and not in some other state). 
[UPDATE 9/9/2014:  I spoke with someone from the DEEP and was told that although rattlesnakes are theoretically possible they are "highly unlikely" in Shelton. A low-resolution of one of the most recently reported  'rattlesnakes' was forwarded to a herpetologist and although the photo was not clear, he though it looked more like a Black Rat Snake. Also, there are no historical records of rattlesnakes in Shelton. A verifiable, high resolution photo is needed.]