Macedonia Brook State Park is located in northwest Connecticut, so it was a significantly farther drive than the two parks I recently visited in the southwest part of the state. It is near Kent, and driving there involved driving over Bull’s Bridge, a historic one-lane covered bridge.
There was no entrance fee at the park. Instead of a few large parking lots, there are numerous picnic areas and camping spots where people were parking, as well as randomly spaced and unmarked spots into which a car had pulled over and parked. I thought signs were needed advising visitors where to park. I had downloaded a map from the Internet, and it showed an old furnace near the park entrance. However, I did not see any sign directing one to the furnace, and the furnace itself must have been hidden by foliage.
The park road runs north-south, parallel Macedonia Brook. The map shows a blue-blazed Macedonia Ridge Trail forms a 6 mile-loop around the park, covering roughly 3 miles on the west side of the park road and 3 miles on the east side of the park road. I decided to start near the park entrance in the south, on the western side of the road, and move clockwise. I finally found a sign that read “trails” and parked in a small lot there.
Starting on the blue trail, I quickly gained about 600′ in elevation, including one or two moderate scrambles. I was rewarded with a scenic view toward the east:
After 1.6 miles, I came to the intersection with the white-blazed Cobble Mountain Trail:
I stopped for a moment to look at the white trail, and on returning to the blue trail, I apparently turned south instead of continuing to the north as I intended. I have no idea how I did that, or how I didn’t realize that I was retracing my steps. At one scenic spot, I stopped for lunch.
Thinking I was going north, I expected to encounter an intersection with a green-blazed trail after another 0.4 miles. When that didn’t happen, I thought that I had somehow missed it and that after another 0.6 miles I would come to an intersection with an orange-blazed trail and Chippewalla Road (not far from the main park road).
The trail began descending. Here is a scramble, photographed from the bottom looking up.
The base of this tree was interesting. I’ve seen roots grow like that when they have to grow over rocks. Maybe there had been a rock there and it was later removed by someone.
I heard traffic, and knew the blue trail was approaching a road. It was only in the last 50 feet that I realized that I had somehow gotten confused and retraced my steps. So by going north 1.6 miles and then returning the same way, I had only hiked 3.2 miles, instead of the planned 6-mile circular loop.
I then drove north in the park, stopping when I reached a point close to where the orange trail would intersect the blue trail. I thought that I would return to the blue trail and finish the loop.
These red berries are probably amur honeysuckle (lonicera maackii), an invasive species:
Adjacent to where I parked my car near the orange trail, I saw string tied around a tree, which led up to a purple box. I had no idea what it was, but the Internet is amazing, and just typing “triangular box in tree” led me to an answer. There is a pest called the Emerald Ash Borer that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is tracking, by means of hanging traps in ash trees. The purple traps are coated with a sticky substance that captures the borers, and USDA employees visit the traps every so often and survey them.
I found a kiosk with a poster providing information about the park and the trails. There is at least one typographical error: “Macedonia Brook became out 13th state park . . .” Obviously, they meant to type “our,” with the “r” being adjacent to the “t” on the keyboard.
Here’s something for everyone, colorful rocks, with lichen, moss, plants and a cute frog:
A close-up of the Northern Green Frog, Lithobates clamitans (Rana clamitans melanota):
Unfortunately, in the few minutes after leaving my car at the second parking area, I was attacked by a swarm of gnats. I don’t think they were biting me, but they were buzzing in my ears, and flying around my nose and mouth. Earlier, on the blue trail, I had twice stopped and spread Off! Deep Woods Sportsmen (98.25% DEET) on myself, which had driven away the bugs. The repellent should last for 8 hours, but it only worked for an hour.
I spread some more DEET on myself, and this time it was not effective at all. If anything, the gnats were thriving on it. When I hike with others, I find that other people are targeted by insects more than me, so it is not as though I am one of those people that naturally attracts them. I saw a few other people in the area who were not waving away clouds of gnats, but they sure were bothering me. Therefore, I returned to the car and gave up. So whereas I had hoped to hike 6 miles, I only hiked about 3.5-4 miles, sandwiched in between a long car ride to the park and home.
Thus, I was very disappointed with the day’s activity. Obviously, it is not the park’s fault that I somehow got turned around after getting 1.6 miles into the 6-mile loop, and it is not the park’s fault that the hot weather has led to a proliferation of gnats that love the taste of DEET.
Hopefully my next hike will be more enjoyable.