View of brick tower called Castle Craig on New England Trail near Spruce Brook RoadToday our itinerary called for hiking to Spruce Brook Road. But first of all, Happy Birthday to me! I’m fortunate to be able to spend yet another birthday hiking along a National Scenic Trail. I was on the Ice Age Trail on my birthday in 2013 and 2015. I guess in odd-numbered years I hit the trail on my birthday!

Today was mostly a wonderful day. Yes, there were still lots of rocks along the trail. But there was a lot more friendly footing.

We began by parking one of our cars by a produce stand on Long Bottom Road. The owners said it was fine; they have a huge parking lot by their business. Then we began hiking south, even though we’re really going north. That’s just how it goes when you’re self-shuttling.

Heading Toward Spruce Brook Road

The trail was lovely all morning, although there were a fair number of spots where the markings were poor and we went off-trail. It was never for very long; if you don’t see a blaze, you know something’s amiss. But it got a bit annoying for Stubs.

We had lunch by a pretty little creek. Since it was my birthday, we splurged and got Subway subs. Normally we make sandwiches from the motel breakfast bar – an omelet, sausage patty and English muffin (with hot sauce!).

In the afternoon, the trail led us along cliffs that afforded sweeping views of the state. They’re said to be the best views in all of Connecticut. We could see Hartford in the distance, and we think even Long Island and the Berkshires. (Signage says you can see the latter two on clear days, but since we don’t know this area well we can’t say for sure that’s what we saw).

Hitting Castle Craig

One of the day’s highlights was coming upon Castle Craig, which is really a 1900 brick tower that you can climb for even better views. It’s the highest point within 25 miles of the coast from Maine to Florida.

Oh, in the middle of the day, we ran into Parks. He was able to give us intel about the trail that lay before us, and vice-versa. We didn’t have too much to tell him. There was one tricky spot where the blazes led you in circles, but it was more a problem for southbound hikers than northbound. He, however, told us about a bunch of difficult spots that lay ahead.

Parks wasn’t exaggerating. When it was about 4 p.m., and we thought we only had another 90 minutes to hike, we ran into poorly blazed areas. Then, several stretches of wildly overgrown prairie with thorny plants that cut us to bits and stuck burrs everywhere. It seemed like we would never get to the road walks on Spruce Brook Road ending our day.

We did, but it wasn’t until 7:15 p.m. 🙁

Oh well, any day on the trail is a good day. And we celebrated my birthday with pizza, salad and wine, so that’s even better. Now it’s time to tuck in here at the Holiday Inn Express in Meriden. Greatest location ever!

Snowshoe and Stubs

Map Miles: 20.4
Map Miles to Date: 98.2
iPhone Miles: 21.7
iPhone Miles to Date: 96.2
Steps: 54,484
Steps to Date: 247,384
Flights Walked: 193
Flights to Date: 911

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©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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