BETHEL AND RIDGEFIELD, CT
the Ives Trail June 5, 2010 by Mike Cunningham
The Ives Trail is a multi-town trail in western
Connecticut. The length is approximately 15 miles.
February when I put this hike in for National Trails Day,
it seemed likely that the Ives Trail would be finished by
then. We had relocated the trail from its original path and
there were several easements needed.
The new trail sections had not been blazed and were definitely
not finished although I know where they go. Much of it, but
not all, had ribbon flags to indicate the way. I had GPS waypoints
for various critical places.
The trail includes a stream crossing which will eventually
have a bridge on it. It did not. It can be crossed on rocks
and there is a ladder there, but it is swampy on both sides.
We got wet feet.
The trail is nominally 15 miles and is a real bushwhack. I
put the hike in to the AMC, the GMC, the ADK and the CFPA.
Somehow it did not get into the CFPA book. No one from the
GMC or ADK signed up for the hike although there was one inquiry
through the GMC.
Ten people signed up for the hike. The forecast was for showers
sometime late in the day. As the hike was likely to take about
8 hours running into the showers four people did not come.
We met at the appointed time and drove to the start of the
hike. The first part goes through Bennett’s Pond State
Park in Ridgefield. The land was once part of a fancy resort.
It was then used as a nursery, then sold to IBM which planned
a conference center, then sold to a developer who planned
to put in hundreds of homes.
The people of Ridgefield opposed that and the land was purchased
by Ridgefield then turned over to the state.
It is a really pretty place with an open meadow with some
specimen trees from the nursery and nice views from the location
of the inn and around the pond. It was along the inlet stream
to the pond that we saw a very co-operative male Scarlet Tanager,
who let us take his picture.
From there the trail goes into a Ridgefield open space area
and steeply up to a viewpoint which was the site of a cabin
(really more of a lean-to) where Charles Ives spent some time.
The trail continues down and around through the western side
of Wooster Mountain State Park, coming down to busy Route
7. We crossed Route 7 at a crosswalk and after about a ¼
mile road walk went into the woods on an old wood road actually
named Old Wood Road (after someone named Wood).
We then climbed up the western side of Moses Mountain in the
eastern section of Wooster Mountain State Park. From here
we went down into a gorge which contains the watershed divide
between the Still and Saugatuck rivers.
Then once again up, this time into Tarrywile Park to the viewpoint
at Mootry Peak, where we had lunch. After lunch we hiked down
(and up) to Parks Pond in the main area of Tarrywile Park.
Here we were met by Sandy Moy & Becky Petro with cold
water and by Tina Maripuu with brownie and oatmeal cookies!
Sandy Moy is a member of the Ives Trail Task Force and the
Executive Director of Tarrywile Park and Mansion, Tina Maripuu
is the Secretary of the Ives Trail Task Force. We were all
very happy to see them and I heard many comments later on
from the hikers expressing their appreciation.
Now the fun part started. The trail continues along a trail
through Tarrywile Park and then on another old wood road into
a section of Tarrywile which is not contiguous with the rest
of the park. Then we got to the “fish”, so called
because the property shape resembles a fish tail.
Here there was no trail. We went up between cliffs following
ribbons through a Mountain Laurel thicket. After topping out
we went down a cliff on the other side and out onto another
another short bushwhack we emerged onto another woods road
called Old Post Road. We followed this for over a mile to
another bushwhack edging around a swamp. It was about here
we started hearing thunder. We got out our rain gear and continued.
emerged onto another old woods road called Old Starr’s
Plain Road and another bushwhack up a hill through Land Trust
of Danbury (LTD) property, now in the rain, then down the
hill and along the edge of some private property where we
crossed the unbridged stream.
It was hard to tell whether our feet were wet from the stream
or from the rain. Once again up a hill to Long Ridge Road.
Here the trail ends only to start again about 0.4 miles further
north on Long Ridge Road.
Once again onto an old woods road this time into two more
LTD properties skirting a swamp in each one by following the
ribbons. This time we emerged onto a cul de sac where we followed
several roads into the Redding Bogus Brook open space where
we went through some more swamp and skirted another pond.
Here we saw a large bird which flew off through the trees.
We were not sure if it was an owl or a hawk as none of us
saw it very clearly.
Here the trail ends at a railroad track only to magically
start again on the other side of the tracks. This time we
went through a flat section. Can you believe that? It really
came out into Side Cut Road in Redding, from which it was
about ¼ mile back to the cars. We completed the hike
in just short of 8 hours.
Leader: Mike Cunningham, Co leader: Russ Charest. Hikers:
Richard Applegate, Robert Cieri, Bob Cotton, Roger Hibbert,