The snow has finally melted and so we continue our quest to hike the entire New England Trail. This month's installment takes us to CT NET: Section 21 which takes us from Suffield, CT over the Massachusetts border into Southwick, MA.
I love this trail; however, it is a trippy one. The path is clear (thank you to all the volunteers who maintain the NET!) but it is a rocky and rooty terrain. We all stumbled. A lot. You definitely need to pay attention to your underfoot. I was super impressed by the few trail runners we encountered on a Saturday afternoon -- but then we returned to the parking area and noticed the Spartan and BoneFrog bumper stickers on the vehicles and realized we had brushed shoulders with some real professionals. For us regular folks, approach this trail with caution.
There are two great entry points to this trail: either from the Alcorn Wildlife Preserve on Mountain Road in Suffield, CT or from the Rising Corner trail head on Rising Corner Road in Southwick, MA. This section of the path is 2.3 miles. We actually had to break the trail into two hikes (it was our first time out for the season and we didn't want to discourage the younger members of our crew) but it is completely doable as a through hike if you park one vehicle at either end.
Whichever end you start from, Section 21 is a fun hike with some steep terrain (your quads will definitely get a workout), a few makeshift bridges to traverse, and if you hike after a good rainfall you can pick your way across a small stream. There's enough here to keep hikers of all ages entertained.
These power lines are a particular highlight:
Once you pass by them coming in from the CT side, ignore the gravel path straight ahead -- look for the path back into the woods off to the left:
If you're coming in from the MA border -- walk along the lookout ridge and back into the woods -- you have to look carefully for the blazes in this area. Just know that the gravel path is not the hiking trail.
If you're hiking in from the CT border, getting on the trail at the Alcorn Preserve is easy -- just look for the dirt pull-off parking on the edge of Mountain Road near the Preserve's large sign.
However, if you're starting on the MA side of the hike (Rising Corner) it's a bit trickier to find the trail. Park your car in the large, well-marked grassy field parking lot. Lock you car and then turn around and look across the road. When facing the large, white house, look to the left of the home. If you look closely at the left edge of their yard you'll see the white-marked trail head. This is the NET path (NOT the rather obvious-looking large path that edges the hemp field here. Do not trespass here like I did). This red star shows the entrance to the trail as seen from the parking area.
You're looking for this post in the brush:
IMPORTANT Please note: since this trail crosses the Connecticut/Massachusetts border remember that the trail is marked with BLUE blazes in Connecticut and WHITE blazes in Massachusetts. There is a border sign to note but keep in mind the trail markers will change -- you're still on the right path just different colors to note.
I would not recommend this trail to new hikers. Little hikers will need to be in a backpack/carrier. There are steep drop offs very close to the trail. This is a 2.3 mile hike -- it took our party of six (two six-year-olds, two teens and two adults) about an hour and 45 minutes.
Some older blog posts you read will tell you that this section of the NET is a road walk -- this is no longer true. The property owners have generously granted access to hikers once again so the trail is completely open. And here's your gentle reminder that I always include with my NET posts -- access to these trails is often through private property. Please be respectful of the owners' land and STAY ON THE TRAIL. Take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints.
There are no facilities on the trail -- use the potty before you go. Bring lots of water and snacks. Pro Tip: we always bring M&Ms as this section of the New England Trail is formerly known as the M-M (Metacomet-Monadnock) Trail. Set the GPS for Alcorn Wildlife Preserve, Mountiain Road, Suffield, CT or Rising Corner, Rising Corner Road, Southwick, MA. We hope you enjoy this hike as much as we did. See you on the trail!