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Hiking The MMM Path From Long Island Sound To Mt Monadnock, New Hampshire

Someplace around 5 years after finishing AMC’s New Hampshire 4000 Footer Membership, sporting a beer belly, and approaching the age of 60, the call of the trail once once more beckoned to me. Indeed, IT WAS SCREAMING AT ME! Residing in central Connecticut and coping with a hectic lifestyle, the plain alternative was the CFPA’s Blue-Blazed trail system. Having accomplished the stone island mens clothes Mattatuck and a lot of shorter native trail systems, I had set my sights on the lovely Mattabessett Trail when the Obama Administration introduced federal funding for the new England National Scenic Trail, stringing collectively the Mattabesett and Metacomet trails of Connecticut, and the Metacomet-Monadnock path of Massachusetts and New Hampshire (properly, it seems, not fairly New Hampshire). Diminutively coined the “Triple-M” Path, this improbable thread of paradise wends it’s means from the Connecticut River in Middletown, Connecticut, south to Guilford where it makes one thing of a U-flip earlier than heading north, following the lengthy entice rock ridges of the Connecticut River valley effectively into central Massachusetts the place it swings northeasterly toward its northern terminus at the summit of Mt. Monadnock in southern New Hampshire, protecting in all over 250 miles. On Saturday, June 27, 2009, I set out from the River Street trailhead in Middletown, Connecticut, the very starting of the Mattabesett Trail. My vacation spot was Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire, a great 12 months later.
Perhaps essentially the most salient characteristic of hiking this path system is the straightforward truth that every single part affords the hiker a treat, be it a lovely waterfall, a breathtaking cliff, an historic stone marker, a babbling brook, a blueberry patch, a snowy grove of Mountain-laurel or a scenic overlook, not to say the wildlife. The Triple-M Trail is peaceful hiking, but by no means dull. Serene for positive, yet filled with surprises.
My hiking plan concerned strictly day-hikes, part by section, usually utilizing a bicycle to identify my automotive at destinations. Completion of your complete Triple-M system includes roughly 55 section hikes, all of which are inside the one-day vary of medium experience hikers. Not one of the sections requires an in a single day campout to complete, excellent news contemplating the paucity of legal campsites on this system.
The primary half of the Mattabesett runs southwesterly via gentle rolling hills and meadows. Search for the Selectman’s Stones and other factors of historic curiosity en route. Upon entering the Guilford Land Trust at the Mattabessett’s southern extremity, it starts to get moderately rocky in spots (notably the interesting maze of the Broomstick Ledges), prepping the hiker for the coming lure rock ledges.
No sooner did I start my hiking quest than the CFPA trailmasters lower a brand new extension, the lovely 11-mile lengthy Menunkatuk Trail, from simply east of the Broomsticks down to the Guilford Land Trust’s exquisite East River Preserve. From this point, a four mile pavement stroll is important to complete the route to Long Island Sound. Although it isn’t in the woods, the 4 mile walk from Guilford Harbor to the current southern terminus of the Menunkatuk is properly definitely worth the walk, strolling by means of Guilford’s lovely historic district and city inexperienced. This, after all, conjures up the irresistible hiking problem of going all the best way from Long Island Sound to Mt. Monadnock, New Hampshire!
The addition of the Menunkatuk Trail to the MMM Path system would indicate that we now diminutively call it the MMMM Trail (perhaps “Quad-M” Trail ), however this appellation has yet to take hold.
The second half of the Mattabesett just isn’t for the faint of heart. We’re immediately handled to the dramatic precipice of Bluff Head as the path now swings northward out of Guilford. Up and over lovely Totoket Mountain, the trail now faithfully follows a few of the better of the Connecticut River Valley’s dramatic ridgelines. When the Mattabesett Path meets up with the Metacomet Path in the town of Berlin, the hiker hardly notices any change, because the scenic traprock ridgeline walking simply keeps coming. The crown jewel of these ridgelines is the breathtaking Hanging Hills of Meriden and Castle Craig, a stone lookout tower that marks the very best elevation anyplace on the United States’ japanese seaboard inside 50 miles of the coast. Not an excessive amount of further alongside, the trail crosses over thrilling Ragged Mountain, a mecca for serious rock climbers.
Because the trail reaches into the Farmington area, historic websites abound: just off the trail near Rattlesnake Mountain is Hospital Rock, the positioning of a tragic 18th century smallpox quarantine, the place many younger patients inscribed their names in bedrock. The path cuts right by Will Warren’s Den, a rock-and-boulder cave where a 17th Century native free spirit fled after making an attempt to burn down the town after being flogged for not going to church. Passing by the Hill-Stead property in Farmington, I had my first bear encounter. More afraid of humans than we’re of them, the hundred-pound yearling wouldn’t stick around lengthy enough for me to take her picture.
Additional north on Talcott Mountain, unimaginable views of central Connecticut abound. Topping it all off is the majestic Heublein Tower with its six-story-excessive statement room, affording spectacular multi-state views. It is claimed that Dwight Eisenhower was persuaded to run for President whereas visiting the tower in 1950. The Triple-M continues about ten miles more over lovely rolling hills to East Granby’s Peak Mountain where it passes instantly above the Old Newgate Prison, an 18th Century penitentiary of His Majesty’s Connecticut Colony. Two more moderate part hikes remain before the brand new England Nationwide Scenic Path is handed off to our Massachusetts companions, the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club.
About this time I checked in with my Doctor for my annual checkup and bought a giant pat on the again for dropping 15 pounds since last year! Was it my weight loss plan Or maybe all that great gorp
Soon on my approach into Massachusetts, the trail, identified here because the Metacomet-Monadnock, or “M&M” Trail, crosses a sequence of tremendous bog bridges via an exquisite wetlands space, and then starts up Provin Mountain. About six miles north of the state line, the trail crosses the Westfield River, which will be forded in heat weather in occasions of low water. Having neither, I hiked this part as a spherical trip, starting the following section on the other facet a week later.
Extra rolling hills, and I am lastly on to Easthampton’s abrupt Mt. Tom, now within the throes of late winter. You may still spot the Heublein Tower in the south from this summit, and Mt. Greylock and the Berkshire Hills are visible to the west. With a foot of nicely-packed snow underneath foot, I was easily up and over, by no means even donning my snowshoes. Instantly east of Mt. Tom, on the other aspect of the Connecticut River, the Holyoke Range beckons.
With the only exception of Mt. Monadnock itself, the Holyoke Vary is the most heavily traveled corridor of the whole MMM Trail system. Particularly right here, count on lots of recent mates in high locations! However hikers beware: by no means underestimate the Holyoke Vary. Though none of this terrain rises above about 1100 toes, there’s a relentless succession of hilltops, The Seven Sisters, which can really wear a hiker down. At the summit of Mt. Holyoke sits the well-known Summit Home inbuilt 1851. This venue was frequented and immortalized within the 19th Century by painters of the Hudson College, most notably Thomas Cole. Different famous guests included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Dickens, Jenny Lind, as well as a number of U.S. presidents.
The following a number of sections have been perhaps probably the most difficult a part of my journey owing to landowner points. The AMC Berkshire Chapter is within the process of relocating the path, however, a brief and relatively unusual settlement is in place. The landowners have agreed to allow the momentary use of the land for hiking so lengthy as the trail is just not blazed. If the hiker has good orienteering expertise, good maps, a GPS, and above all else, the time to “do the homework” ahead of time, it continues to be possible to navigate these lands. I discovered that although unmarked, in most places the trail continues to be obvious. The place it isn’t, you merely resort to GPS waypoint navigation (using waypoints that have been nailed the night before utilizing topographical maps). In all of those “problem” sections, the trailheads and road intersections are nicely marked. It is anticipated that main trail relocations (close to the Quabbin Reservoir) can be achieved within the close to future.
From the Wendell State Forest part on, the M&M could be very nicely blazed. The trail passes by way of the ruins of an outdated piano factory on the river in Farley, then on to Northfield and Hermit Mountains, the place you can go to the rocky ruins of “Erving Castle”, a 19th Century hermit’s homestead. In the direction of the top of this section, we summit Crag Mountain from which we get our first view of Mt. Monadnock, some 25 miles distant because the crow flies.
Passing on by the lovely Mt. Grace State Reservation (and extra great views of Grand Monadnock), we draw ever closer to the brand new Hampshire state line (truly briefly crossing into New Hampshire close to Mayo Hill). Scenic and majestic Royalston Falls beckons on the ultimate part in Massachusetts and only a stone island mens clothes half-mile north we cross into New Hampshire. Technically, the M&M Path is just not a part of the new National Scenic Path designation after it leaves Massachusetts, as New Hampshire has not but opted in.
On the second section in New Hampshire, I’m up on top of Little Monadnock Mountain, up to now the high point of my journey at 1883 ft. Quickly after passing the wooded summit, the trail crosses over a network of open ledges that afford spectacular views of close by Grand Monadnock, now some ten miles distant. Earlier than long, the path comes out of the forest and meanders via the little town of Troy, New Hampshire, passing by its lovely city inexperienced, harking back to the one we handed some months again in Guilford, Connecticut. But another part stays to be coated before we arrive at the vacation spot, Grand Monadnock. This five mile part over Hole Mountain takes me by a few of probably the most superior blueberry patches I have ever seen! Stopping consistently to munch on the berries, my pace is slowed dramatically.
August 14, 2010 brings a crystal-clear day and I’m off to make the ultimate pitch up 3165-foot Grand Monadnock. As is totally regular for this place, the mountain is mobbed with smiling, sweaty faces. Mt. Monadnock is alleged to be the second most closely visited mountain on the planet (after Mt. Fuji in Japan). The draw right here is nothing new: each Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau frequented it and wrote fondly of it. There may be a huge crowd on the summit, however it’s all smiling faces! The view from the summit is unparalleled: the Hancock and Prudential Towers of Boston are seen 60 miles away within the southeast, Mt. Greylock and the Berkshires stand out within the west, Mt. Tom and the Holyoke vary are simply noticed within the south, and if you already know right where to look, you possibly can actually see Mt. Washington, some one hundred ten miles distant, in the north!
As is the case with most major trail programs within the United States, the stewardship of this path system is a collaboration of a number of groups. In Connecticut, the MMM Trail is maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Park Affiliation, and in Massachusetts and New Hampshire by the AMC’s Berkshire Chapter, each of that are to be endlessly commended for their wonderful efforts. Now that federal recognition and help have come, this New England gem will eternally be protected as not only a hyperlink to the previous, however as a healthy recreational bridge to the future.

Tom Tella
Wolcott, Connecticut
October thirteen, 2010