Tag Archives: trail

Heublein Tower (Simsbury, CT)

Date Of Visit: September 9, 2017

Location: Talcott Mountain State Park, Route 185, Simsbury, CT

Cost: Free

Hours: The trail to the tower is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

Hours for the museum in the tower are as follows:

Memorial Day Weekend through September 30th, the museum is open Thursday through Sunday only.
October 1 – October 31st the museum is open Tuesday through Sunday.
Museum hours are 10 am to 5 pm. Pets, food, drink, and walking sticks are not allowed in the museum.

Parking:

Handicapped Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: Yes

Trail Size/Difficulty: 2.5 miles round trip/moderate with some sharp inclines.

Website: Friends Of Heublein Tower

Talcott Mountain State Park

Highlights: tower, scenic views,

Tips:

  • There is no parking lot at the park.  Parking is allowed on the side of the road at and near the trail to the tower
  • Don’t forget to check out the scenic views on the way up to the tower by taking the trail closest to the ledge (the trail on the right after the trail splits
  • The trail has a steep incline at the beginning but evens out and becomes easier about halfway to the tower
  • If using a GPS: Parking is located on Summit Ridge Dr. Simsbury, CT 06070

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Once the home of Gilbert Heublein (pronounced “High-Bline”), Heublein Tower offers some of the most pretty views in the Connecticut River Valley.

As legend has it, during a hike of Talcott Mountain with his fiance Louise M. Gundlach, he promised her that one day he would build her a castle there.  He would make good on his promise in 1914 with the Heublein Tower.

Heublein manufactured such delicacies as A1 Steak Sauce and Smirnoff Vodka.  Anyone else hungry for some steak and vodka? A barbecue, perhaps?

Heublein Tower is located along a trail that begins at Talcott Mountain State Park.  Parking is available along the sides of the road to the tower.

Along the trail to the tower, you can take the trail on the right to see some pretty views of the Farmington River Valley.  As you can also see by some of the photos, the trail does have some inclines.  There are also some benches along the trail at the beginning of the trail.

During certain days you can enter the tower and view the rooms in the tower.  The at times arduous hike is worth it for the views of the tower and the self guided tower of the inside of the tower.

The views from Heublein Tower are stunning.

The trails are not too hard for man nor beast.  Dogs of a variety of sizes and breeds were on the trail during my visit.

Hiro is a 7 month old Cobberdog

Monte is a 2 year old Tibetan Terrier.

Kaiser is a 2 year old Airedale.

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Roscoe (on the left) is a 3 year old Rottweiler.   Love his bandanna!

Onyx (on the right) is a 2 year old boxer.

 

 


Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary (Attleboro, MA)

Dates Of Visits: May 20 & June 19, 2017

Location: 1417 Park Street, Attleboro, MA

Hours: Trails are open daily dawn to dusk.  Office hours are:

Summer:
Mon-Fri, 9:30 am-4:30 pm
Closed Sat & Sun

Spring, Fall, Winter:
Tues-Sat, 9:30 am-4:30 pm
Sun, 10 am-4 pm
Closed Mon

Cost: Free but a $2 donation is suggested for visitors who aren’t members of the Mass. Audubon Society

Parking: There is ample parking inthe main parking lot for about 40 to 50 vehicles.

Trail Size/Difficulty: 1.5 miles, easy

Handicapped Accessible: The nature center and rest rooms are handicapped accessible.  The trails at Oak Knoll are not.

Dog friendly: No, most Audubon trails are not pet friendly

Highlights: wildlife, pond, easy trails, geo-caching, summer camp for children, nature center

Website: Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary

Trail Map: Oak Knoll Wildlife Sanctuary Trail Map

Located about a mile and  a half from Attleboro Springs Wildlife Sanctuary, Oak Knoll is a fun trail with with scenic views, abundant wildlife and a few other surprises along he way.

Spring was in the air and a rebirth of sorts was happening on the trails.  During my first visit, I found these two Northern Water Snakes getting friendly.  To be honest, I wasn’t really sure what I was looking at.  But, I did think at the time I did hear the faint sounds of Al Green in the air.  The naturalist at the nature center told me you could tell they were mating by their interlocked tails.

The Northern Water Snake can be dangerous.  Although they usually tend to avoid confrontations, if they feel threatened the snake can bite their predator or perceived predator and their bites can require medical attention.  This is why I always tend to keep my distance (these photos were taken with my telephoto lens) and from behind in most of the shots I took except for the one front facing photo.

During my second visit in June, I noticed this turtle on the trail.  Since it is unusual for a turtle to be in the trail and its even more unusual for a turtle to not flee when they see a human (I could have pet the turtle I was so close although of course I never would at least not int he wild), I notified the naturalist since I thought maybe the turtle might be injured.  The naturalist told me the turtle was most likely laying her eggs as they often do this away away from the water and it was that time of the year when turtles will lay their eggs.

The naturalist also informed me that turtles also tend to lay their eggs on warm areas, such as the side of paved roads.  This is one of the reasons why turtles often get hit by cars on the side of the road.  So, be careful while your driving this time of the year!

 

The trails at Oak Knoll are easy with some boardwalks that pass over red maple swamps and freshwater marshes.  There are a few very slight inclines.  But the trails are primarily very easy.

The main trail at Oak Knoll is a loop that leads to and circles around Lake Talaquega (say that 5 times fast).  There are some pretty views of the lake along the way.

I also spotted this geocache off the trail.  Apparently, a regular visitor at the sanctuary installs these geocaches from time to time.

There are a wide variety of birds and other critters at the sanctuary.  This colorful insect is a six pointed tiger beetle.  I think they call him Ringo.

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There was also butterflies, garter snakes and a variety of birds.

The nature center at the entrance to the trails has amphibians in tanks that are being taken care of while they are rehabbed or are there for educational purposes, particularly for the children who are attending the summer camp they host.  They also have some pretty flowers and trees on their grounds.

Today’s Nomad link of the day is the North Attleboro Fish Hatchery by Trails And Walks In Rhode Island.  Trails And Walks offers informative and detailed summaries of different trails in and around the Rhode Island area.  I appreciate the short but sweet synopsis of each trail and the posts always include one pretty photograph of the area.  I may have also used the website to find some places to visit!

 


The Mount (Lenox,MA)

Date Of Visit: June 4, 2017

Location: 2 Plunkett St, Lenox,  MA (about 2 hours west of Boston and 1 hour northwest of Springfield, MA)

Hours: The Mount is open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm through October 31st, except on early closing days (please see below). The Mount is open from 10:30 am – 3:00 pm most weekends in November through February. Please call 413-551-5100 to confirm hours.

Cost: $18 for adults, $17 for seniors (65 and older), $13 for students with id, $10 for members of the military, free for teens and children (18 and younger)

Handicapped Accessible: Yes

Dog Friendly: Service pets may be allowed

Highlights: home of author Edith Wharton, trails, fountains, flowers

Website: The Mount

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Once the home to one of Massachusetts’ more prominent authors, The Mount is more than just a beautiful mansion.  The Mount, once the home of Edith Wharton, has colorful gardens, fountains, art, spectacular views and history around every corner.

The Mount, which was recently restored, is an elegant house that has kept much of its original charm.  What is great about the mansion is that you can see the entire home in half an hour or so.  Yet, it isn’t so much the quantity of time and space the tour (I took a self guided tour but there may also be guided tours as well) would take.  But, rather, it is the quality of time and space the tour takes.  Around each corner is one beautiful piece of furniture and architecture.  Yeah, I think I could live here.

I couldn’t use my flash when I took photos inside of the mansion.  But, I did my best.  Sometimes the lack of lighting gives the home a mysterious feel.  Sometimes it just makes the photos look crappy.  You decide.

The two floor building has about a dozen rooms and there is a handicapped accessible entry and elevator.

Some of my favorite rooms had the old, antiquated tools and appliances we used to use.

The grounds of the Mount is as beautiful as the inside of the building.

The Beaver Loop Trail, a gentle, short trail (about half a mile) that runs along the grounds of The Mount, offers some very pretty views.

Edith Wharton was fond of animals (well, mostly she was fond of dogs not so much cats – oh well she wasn’t purrfect I guess).  Along the trail around the mansion, a side trail leads too a pet cemetery.

There are also little critters along the trail outside of the home.

The Mount is also hosting a special art exhibit called SculptureNow on its trail.  If you missed it, you can view the blog post I posted a few weeks ago bout the art exhibit here.

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Eastern Marsh Trail (Salisbury, MA)

Date Of Visit: May 21, 2017

Location: Friedenfels St, Salisbury, MA

Hours: accessible everyday

Cost: Free

Parking: There are 15 total parking spots designated for the rail trail.  There are 5 spots in the main parking lot on Friedenfels St at the entrance to the trail.  There are also 10 parking spots across the street from the main parking lot.  There is a larger parking lot in front of the main parking area that is a private lot.  Don’t park there as your car could be towed.

 

Trail Size/Difficulty: 1.4 miles, flat, easy trail.

Handicapped Accessible: Yes, the main trail is handicapped accessible.  The side trails are not accessible due to the rocky trails and steep inclines.  There is ramp to the right of the staircase to the trail at the parking area.

Dog Friendly: Yes

Highlights: scenic views, wide and easy trail, side trail, dog friendly, family friendly, benches to sit at, wildlife

Fitbit Stats: 1.8 miles, 502 calories, 4,504 steps (one way)

Website: Eastern Marsh Trail

Once the site of a grand railroad that ran from Boston to sections of Boston’s North Shore and New Hampshire, the Eastern Marsh Rail Trail is a true gem of the coastal section of the north shore (cities and towns north of Boston).

The railroad, which would be extended over time, began operating from Boston to Salem in 1838.  It would later be extended to Salisbury and other territories in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 1840.

Alas, the last train crossed the Merrimack River in 1965, leaving behind abandoned rail lines.  Eventually, it was proposed that the rail lines should be converted to rail trails.  Now, many decades later, instead of being used by noisy engines often carrying dangerous cargo, the rail lines are being used for exercise, dog walking and just enjoying nature.

The 1.4 mile Eastern Marsh Trail connects to the Clipper City Rail Trail  to the south and the Ghost Trail to the north.

The Eastern Marsh Trail, which is part of a system of trails along the coastal north shore which includes Newburyport and Salisbury.

The trails at Eastern Marsh Trail are flat with no significant inclines.

The Stevens Trail is a short trail (about .4 mile) that hooks up back to the main trail.  There are some views and a cute bridge along the trail.  You may see a few chipmunks along the way.  It has some minor inclines but I would classify it as easy.  This trail is not handicapped accessible due to the rocky terrain and a bridge that only has steps and no ramp.

The views along the trail are beautiful.

There are still remnants from the original railroad at the beginning of the trail.  Maybe some day they will revive the rail!

This mural from the Salisbury Art Stroll held on May 13 was still remaining along the trail.  I just missed it by a week.  But, I may have to drop by next year to check out the art on display.  This mural was a collaborative effort worked on by a group of artists.

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There were lots of little critters on and off the trail.  I would hear rustling in the trees or bushes in one direction only to be distracted by some other sound of activity in another direction.

Birds

turtles

and chipmunks

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are just a few of the animals you may see on the trail.

But, birds, chipmunks and turtles aren’t the only animals who frequent the trail.

The trail is a popular with dogs and their walkers.

I love the “side eye” Peter, a 14 year old Golden Retriever, was giving his human walker in the first photo.  All he wanted to do was greet me and say hi.

I love how May’s white fur looked against the background.  May is a 6 year old Golden Doodle.

Look at the big smiles on Mako (on the right) and Murphy (on the left)!  Mako is 6.5 years old and Murphy is 7 years old.  They are both Labradors.

 


Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Sanctuary (Tiverton, RI)

Date Of Visit: December 14, 2016

Location: Seapowet Ave, Tiverton, RI (about an hour south of Boston and about 30 minutes  southeast of Providence, RI)

Cost: Free but donations are appreciated

Hours: Trails are open dawn until dusk

Parking: There is a lot which can accomodate about 5-10 cars

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Trail Difficulty/Size: 50 acres of easy but narrow trails, I couldn’t find a description of the trail lengths but it can’t be more than 4 or 5 miles total

Handicapped Accessible: No

Dog Friendly: No, Audubon sanctuaries are not pet friendly

Highlights:easy trails, blinds to hide behind bird watch, wildlife, streams and bodies of water, birds, scenic

Web Site: Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Sanctuary

Trail Map: Emilie Ruecker Trail Map

As a preface, I am trying to post about as many of my trips from earlier this year before the end of the year.  So, I may be posting pretty much every day until the new year and into the beginning of the new year to catch up and start fresh in 2017.  Lucky you… ( :

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Tucked away just over the Massachusetts and Rhode Island border is a serene little trail with lots of surprises.

One of the cutest surprises are these blinds that you can hide behind to photograph or observe birds.

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The trails at Emilie Ruecker are easy enough to navigate and they are mostly loops so it is easy to stay on the trail. There are also maps displayed throughout the sanctuary.  The trails can be narrow in some areas.  Also, if you go on the red trails, it’s easy to go off track.  Just keep looking for the color coded trees to stay on track.

One of the cool things are the openings along the trails that allow you to get closer to the water so you can view the ducks and other birds.

You’ll also find the occasional bench to rest at.

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Although there is lots of wildlife at the sanctuary, the highlight for me was the beautiful scenic views.

If you look closely, you may see the outline of a deer just behind the branch of this tree.  Unfortunately, my camera couldn’t focus in time to get a better photo.

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Much like this deer, the birds at Emilie Ruecker were hard to photograph.

The birds in the water proved more easy to photograph.

These birds were very easy to photograph, as long as I kept my distance.  They were hanging out on the other side of the road across from the sanctuary on some farm land.

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Grace Trail (Plymouth, MA)

Date Of Visit: October 16, 2016

Location Nelson Memorial Park

Hours: Open everyday, dawn until dusk

Cost: Free

Highlights: biking and walking trail, flowers, scenic views, stones with words and phrases of encouragement on them

The G.R.A.C.E. Trail in Plymouth, MA, is not your average walking or biking trail.  Standing for Gratitude, Release, Acceptance, Challenge and Embrace, the idea for this trail is the creation of author, life coach and TED X speaker and Plymouth, MA, resident Anne Jolles.  The trail is designed to help people reflect on and overcome their struggles.  According to Ann Jolles’ website, the trail is meant to get people from, “a state of confusion and overwhelm to one of hope and possibility.” Now, inspired by Jolle’s trail, GRACE trails are appearing all over the country.

There may be many grace trails but this one in Plymouth, MA, is where it all started.

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Located next to Nelson Memorial Park, GRACE trail appears like any other trail.  However, upon closer inspection, it is very different.  Rocks and stones with words of encourage and placed along the side of the trail. At the entrance of the trail, there are rocks with words of encouragement (these rocks have gratitude and “just breath” written on them) and a notepad to write your own words of encouragement.  The person who left a message on the notepad about how he or she left someone who was abusive and “free” is written underneath the message.  It’s very inspiring and for the cynics out there who think that may have been a “faked” message (I know you may be out there), who cares?  It’s something people could still draw inspiration and maybe a nudge to do the same thing.  And that is what this trail is all about; inspiring others and grace.

Along the trail, you’ll find other signs of inspiration and grace.

I love how one of the rocks says to “accept…or not.”  You don’t have to and should not accept certain things in your life.

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These rocks encourage you to embrace the possibilities and “hang on” to hope.

There are messages of hope and inspiration everywhere

I know I could really use a place like this with all of its positivity and inspiration.  I would go everyday if I lived closer to the trail.

The trail are very easy and level along at Grace Trail.

In addition to the pretty stones and encouraging words, there are scenic views and trails that go off into other areas like the trail below that leads to the beach.  The views are very pretty along the trail.

The beach offers views of Plymouth Harbor and the surrounding area.

Since it was such an unseasonably warm autumnn day, there were an assortment of boats (motor powered and otherwise) in the water.

There is also remnants of a railroad that used to go by the area.  Flowers and grass now grow where the train used to run.

The Grace Trail is also dog friendly.  Lilly, a 9 year old Palmarin, enjoyed walking along the trail.

Similar Places I Have Visited In New England:

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Clipper City Rail Trail (Newburyport, MA)

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Canalside Trail (Turner Falls, MA)

 

 

 


Scott Tower (Holyoke, MA)

Date Visited: July 30, 2016

Location: 8 Scott Tower Rd, Holyoke, MA, behind the Community Field Park at 51 Community Field Park, Holyoke, MA

Hours: Open everyday, no hours listed but it can be dangerous at night

Cost: Free

Parking: Roughly a couple of dozen parking spots are available at Community Field

Dog Friendly: Yes

Time To Allot For Visit: Between half and hour and an hour

Highlights: the tower, pretty views of West Springfield and the surrounding area, wildlife, plant life, easy mile hike

Lowlights: Graffiti all over the tower (all. over), a lot of broken bottles and other litter on the premises, some stairs to the top of the tower have holes in them or are missing, tower not accessible by car

Fun For One: Yes

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The walk to the tower is an easy mile walk with a few moderate inclines.  An easy way to locate the trail to Scott Tower is to look for the overpass.  Walk directly under the overpass and stay on the asphalt trail.  There are a lot of side trails and trees, plants, graffiti and remnants of what looks like used to be a waterfall or wall.  Now, the party days are way behind the Nomad but zig zags and 4:20?  Well, I guess things don’t change that much after all.  You crazy Holyoke kids.

Below is a side by side comparison of what the tower reportedly looked like in its heyday (July 16, 1972), a photo of what it looked like in May 31, 2004 and what it looks like now (July 30, 2016).  Yes, it’s pretty cringe worthy.

As a footnote, the tower was originally built in 1942.  Also, there used to be a fence around the tower which you can see at the bottom of the second photo taken in 2004.  The fence seemed to work as there is very little if any graffiti on the tower in the second photo.  Of course, the fence was torn down (presumably by visitors) and the graffiti and vandalism escalated.

There was also a lot of rustling in the brush from squirrels, chipmunks and other types of wildlife.  The vulture on the pole we saw on the way to the tower seemed like a bad harbinger.

Once the main attraction of Craft Hill at Anniversary Hill Park, Scott Tower is now a shell of what it once was.  Graffiti and litter cover the tower and it appears to be in disrepair.  In fact, you can see some remnants of what look like what used to be tables or shelters.  Even with all of the graffiti and litter, the tower is still impressive.

Not all of the graffiti was just messy chicken scratch.  Whenever I go to a landmark in MA, especially Western MA, there is bound to be some artistic renderings.  There wasn’t anything too artsy there but these images did catch my eye.

 

Scott Tower has two areas for observation.  There is an observation deck on the second floor and there is an enclosed area at the top of the tower.  The tower offers views of nearby Mount Tom and the Holyoke area.  The views are pretty sweet.  Just be careful if you  do go to the top.  Some of the stairs are missing or have holes in them.

It’s pretty far down from the second floor of the tower.

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The tricky thing about accessing Scott Tower is you have to park at Community Field Park (use the entrance off Cherry St).  The entrance is behind the park.  There is usually a gate up that you can easily navigate around.  You will have to pass under an overpass on your way to the tower.  It is about a mile walk to the tower.  You will see many side trails on your way to the tower but stay on the main trail for the easiest, most direct route.

While I was at Community Field Park before we began the walk to Scott Tower, we saw this beautiful dog.  Remy is a 4 year old Black and Tan Coonhound

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Below are some videos of a walking tour of the tower.  I really had to watch my step in the first video.  So, it’s mostly a video of the stairs and me wheezing.

I had to stop the second video so I could take some photos of the openings in the tower and the walls.

Just as an aside, I am regularly updating my categories at the top and bottom of my posts.  The “fun for one” category at the top simply means it can be fun to do by yourself.  Being a single person, I often take this into account before I decide to photograph or visit places.  I went with my mom this time so it was a lot of fun but it was something you could do by yourself or, better yet, with a dog!

Similar places in New England I have visited:

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Poet’s Tower, Greenfield, MA

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Bancroft Tower, Worcester, MA

Similar places in New England I have not visited (yet):

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Scargo Tower, Dennis (Cape Cod), MA

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Newport Tower, Newport, Rhode Island