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

Somewhere around five years after finishing AMC’s New Hampshire 4000 Footer Membership, sporting a beer belly, and approaching the age of 60, the call of the path once once more beckoned to me. Certainly, IT WAS SCREAMING AT ME! Dwelling in central Connecticut and coping with a hectic life-style, the obvious alternative was the CFPA’s Blue-Blazed trail system. Having accomplished the Mattatuck and a number of shorter native path systems, I had set my sights on the lovely Mattabessett Trail when the Obama Administration announced federal funding for the new England Nationwide Scenic Trail, stringing collectively the Mattabesett and Metacomet trails of Connecticut, and the Metacomet-Monadnock path of Massachusetts and New Hampshire (well, it seems, not fairly New Hampshire). Diminutively coined the “Triple-M” Trail, this fantastic thread of paradise wends it’s manner from the Connecticut River in Middletown, Connecticut, south to Guilford the place it makes something of a U-flip before heading north, following the lengthy lure rock ridges of the Connecticut River valley nicely into central Massachusetts where it swings northeasterly toward its northern terminus at the summit of Mt. Monadnock in southern New Hampshire, covering in throughout 250 miles. On Saturday, June 27, 2009, I set out from the River Road trailhead in Middletown, Connecticut, the very starting of the Mattabesett Path. My destination was Mt. Monadnock in New Hampshire, a superb yr later.
Perhaps essentially the most salient feature of hiking this path system is the easy truth that each single section affords the hiker a deal with, 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 sure, yet full of surprises.
My hiking plan concerned strictly day-hikes, part by part, usually using a bicycle to identify my car at destinations. Completion of the entire Triple-M system involves roughly 55 part hikes, all of which are inside the one-day vary of medium experience hikers. Not one of the sections requires an overnight campout to complete, good news contemplating the paucity of legal campsites on this system.
The first half of the Mattabesett runs southwesterly by gentle rolling hills and meadows. Look for the Selectman’s Stones and other points of historic interest en route. Upon entering the Guilford Land Belief on the Mattabessett’s southern extremity, it begins to get slightly rocky in spots (notably the attention-grabbing maze of the Broomstick Ledges), prepping the hiker for the coming trap rock ledges.
No sooner did I start my hiking quest than the CFPA trailmasters lower a new extension, the lovely eleven-mile long Menunkatuk Path, from just east of the Broomsticks right down to the Guilford Land Trust’s exquisite East River Preserve. From this level, a 4 mile pavement stroll is necessary to complete the route to Lengthy Island Sound. Although it isn’t in the woods, the four mile stroll from Guilford Harbor to the current southern terminus of the Menunkatuk is nicely well worth the walk, strolling by means of Guilford’s lovely historic district and town inexperienced. This, after all, inspires the irresistible hiking challenge of going all the way in which from Long Island Sound to Mt. Monadnock, New Hampshire!
The addition of the Menunkatuk Path to the MMM Trail system would imply that we now diminutively call it the MMMM Trail (perhaps “Quad-M” Trail ), however this appellation has but to take hold.
The second half of the Mattabesett is just not for the faint of heart. We’re immediately handled to the dramatic precipice of Bluff Head as the trail now swings northward out of Guilford. Up and over lovely Totoket Mountain, the trail now faithfully follows a few of the best of the Connecticut River Valley’s dramatic ridgelines. When the Mattabesett Path meets up with the Metacomet Trail in the stone island jas lang town of Berlin, the hiker hardly notices any change, because the scenic traprock ridgeline strolling 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 highest elevation anywhere on the United States’ japanese seaboard inside 50 miles of the coast. Not too much additional along, the path crosses over thrilling Ragged Mountain, a mecca for critical rock climbers.
As the trail reaches into the Farmington space, historic websites abound: just off the trail close to Rattlesnake Mountain is Hospital Rock, the location of a tragic 18th century smallpox quarantine, the place many younger patients inscribed their names in bedrock. The trail cuts right by means of Will Warren’s Den, a rock-and-boulder cave the place a seventeenth Century native free spirit fled after trying to burn down the city 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 people than we’re of them, the hundred-pound yearling wouldn’t stick round lengthy sufficient for me to take her picture.
Further north on Talcott Mountain, unimaginable views of central Connecticut abound. Topping it all off is the majestic Heublein Tower with its six-story-excessive remark room, affording spectacular multi-state views. It is claimed that Dwight Eisenhower was persuaded to run for President while visiting the tower in 1950. The Triple-M continues about ten miles extra over lovely rolling hills to East Granby’s Peak Mountain where it passes straight above the Previous Newgate Prison, an 18th Century penitentiary of His Majesty’s Connecticut Colony. Two extra moderate section hikes remain before the brand new England Nationwide Scenic Trail is handed off to our Massachusetts companions, the Berkshire Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club.
About this time I checked in with my Physician for my annual checkup and received an enormous pat on the again for shedding 15 pounds since last 12 months! Was it my weight-reduction plan Or perhaps all that nice gorp
Soon on my approach into Massachusetts, the trail, recognized here because the Metacomet-Monadnock, or “M&M” Trail, crosses a collection of positive bog bridges via a gorgeous wetlands area, and then starts up Provin Mountain. About six miles north of the state line, the path crosses the Westfield River, which can be forded in heat weather in times of low water. Having neither, I hiked this section as a spherical trip, beginning the subsequent part on the opposite facet every week later.
Extra rolling hills, and I’m finally on to Easthampton’s abrupt Mt. Tom, now in the throes of late winter. You can still spot the Heublein Tower within the south from this summit, and Mt. Greylock and the Berkshire Hills are seen to the west. With a foot of properly-packed snow below foot, I was simply up and over, by no means even donning my snowshoes. Immediately east of Mt. Tom, on the other facet of the Connecticut River, the Holyoke Vary beckons.
With the sole exception of Mt. Monadnock itself, the Holyoke Vary is the most heavily traveled corridor of your entire MMM Trail system. Particularly here, count on lots of recent pals in high locations! However hikers beware: by no means underestimate the Holyoke Range. Although none of this terrain rises above about 1100 toes, there is a relentless succession of hilltops, The Seven Sisters, which may really put on a hiker down. At the summit of Mt. Holyoke sits the well-known Summit House inbuilt 1851. This venue was frequented and immortalized within the nineteenth Century by painters of the Hudson Faculty, most notably Thomas Cole. Different well-known visitors included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Dickens, Jenny Lind, as well as several U.S. presidents.
The subsequent a number of sections have been maybe essentially the most challenging a part of my journey owing to landowner points. The AMC Berkshire Chapter is in the technique of relocating the trail, however, a temporary and somewhat unusual agreement is in place. The landowners have agreed to allow the short-term use of the land for hiking so lengthy as the path is 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 is still possible to navigate these lands. I discovered that though unmarked, in most places the trail is still obvious. Where it isn’t, you merely resort to GPS waypoint navigation (utilizing waypoints that have been nailed the evening before using topographical maps). In all of these “problem” sections, the trailheads and road intersections are well marked. It’s anticipated that major trail relocations (close to the Quabbin Reservoir) might be accomplished in the close to future.
From the Wendell State Forest section on, the M&M could be very well blazed. The trail passes through the ruins of an old piano manufacturing unit 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. Towards the end of this section, we summit Crag Mountain from which we get our first view of Mt. Monadnock, some 25 miles distant as the crow flies.
Passing on by means of the lovely Mt. Grace State Reservation (and more nice views of Grand Monadnock), we draw ever closer to the brand new Hampshire state line (really briefly crossing into New Hampshire near Mayo Hill). Scenic and majestic Royalston Falls beckons on the final part in Massachusetts and just a half-mile north we cross into New Hampshire. Technically, the M&M Trail is not a part of the brand new National Scenic Trail designation after it leaves Massachusetts, as New Hampshire has not but opted in.
On the second section in New Hampshire, I am up on top of Little Monadnock Mountain, as much as now the excessive point of my journey at 1883 ft. Soon 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 trail comes out of the forest and meanders by way of the little city of Troy, New Hampshire, passing by its lovely town green, paying homage to the one we passed some months back in Guilford, Connecticut. But yet another part stays to be covered before we arrive at the destination, Grand Monadnock. This five mile section over Hole Mountain takes me by some of probably the most superior blueberry patches I have ever seen! Stopping consistently to munch on the berries, my tempo 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 completely normal 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 earth (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 could also be a huge crowd on the summit, however it is all smiling faces! The view from the summit is unparalleled: the Hancock and Prudential Towers of Boston are seen 60 miles away in the southeast, Mt. Greylock and the Berkshires stand out in the west, Mt. Tom and the Holyoke vary are easily noticed in the south, and if you recognize right where to look, you may actually see Mt. Washington, some a hundred and ten miles distant, in the north!
As is the case with most main path programs in the United States, the stewardship of this trail system is a collaboration of a number of teams. In Connecticut, the MMM Trail is maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association, and in Massachusetts and New Hampshire by the AMC’s Berkshire Chapter, each of that are to be endlessly commended for his or her excellent efforts. Now that federal recognition and help have come, this New England gem will forever be protected as not just a hyperlink to the past, but as a healthy recreational bridge to the longer term.

Tom Tella
Wolcott, Connecticut
October 13, 2010

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