Macedonia Brook State Park, Litchfield County, CT

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:

Scenic view, blue trail, Macedonia Brook State Park, CT

Scenic view

After 1.6 miles, I came to the intersection with the white-blazed Cobble Mountain Trail:

Intersection of blue and white trails, Macedonia Brook State Park, CT

Intersection of blue and white trails

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.

Scenic view, Macedonia Brook State Park, CT

Scenic view

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).

Scenic view, Macedonia Brook State Park, CT

Scenic view

The trail began descending. Here is a scramble, photographed from the bottom looking up.

Scramble, Macedonia Brook State Park, CT

Scramble

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.

Interesting tree trunk

Interesting tree trunk

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:

amur honeysuckle (lonicera maackii)

Amur honeysuckle (lonicera maackii)

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.

Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) purple trap

Purple trap

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.

Poster about Macedonia Brook State Park, CT

Park poster

Here’s something for everyone, colorful rocks, with lichen, moss, plants and a cute frog:

Colorful rocks, lichen, moss, plants, and a frog

Colorful rocks, lichen, moss, plants, and a frog

A close-up of the Northern Green Frog, Lithobates clamitans (Rana clamitans melanota):

Frog

Frog

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.

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