Hiking Metacomet to Castle Craig

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Along the Metacomet Trail
Along the Metacomet Trail 

The mighty Metacomet is a 70 mile long Blue Blazed trail. It is the third leg of the New England Scenic Trail in Connecticut that also includes the Menunkatuck and Mattabesset

The Summitwood section includes a rated climb to Castle Craig which: "has the distinction of being the highest point within 25 miles of the coast from Maine to Florida." The summit is 976ft AMSL. While that may sound like an arbitrary distinction - the math involving line of sight, horizon, curvature of the earth and elevation adds up to this result: On a clear day a person on a ship in Long Island Sound is able to see Castle Craig with the naked eye ... so, the distinction is that it is the highest point in the USA visible from the Atlantic Ocean.

Castle Craig - Metacomet  Trail - Connecticut
Castle Craig - Metacomet  Trail - Connecticut

It began to feel like an epic journey when I realized that our destination was named Castle Craig. We were a group of 9 strangers who had bonded together and determined that we would help each other reach this goal - a mysterious monument set on a high rock to which access was attainable only by strenuous exertion

And then, there were 7. Two in our group realized the physical barriers of The Metacomet trail and took a road back to the cars. Blue Blazed trails often are underestimated; there is a tendency to think of hiking as an all-access sport - our past experiences are usually to blame.

Lost Along the Metacomet Trail
Lost Along the Metacomet Trail 

I just returned from a camping trip in Acadia National Park where the hiking trails were a bit more spectacular, and where the trails were wide, well marked, well traveled, and arranged in short loops.

Connecticut's Blue Blazed trails are far less traveled, rarely offer any amenities such as carved steps, and can become so overgrown that it is quite easy to step off the trail without realizing it. But, this network of trails that crosses private property and threads between dense population centers offers a unique experience that is difficult to capture.

National park trails sometimes feel like an amusement park ride, whereas there is something more genuine ... more epic and poetic about the Blue Blazed experience.

Along the Metacomet Trail
Along the Metacomet Trail 

There was a certain atmosphere about hiking with a Meetup group that lent some flavor to the sense of adventure. Beyond the physical walk was the get-to-know you banter and storytelling. As a social activity, hiking can hardly be beat. We knew we were stuck with each other for the 4 or 5 hours it took to hike the 10 mile route (2 extra miles for loosing the trail).

We knew that it would be quiet, and that there would be no other diversion than to talk to each other. So, unlike other Meetup groups where people gather together to watch a concert or play a sport we had to tell each other our stories and had to listen to others' stories - and there was a great amount of time and space to trade these stories in. It is much easier to get to know someone when you are not trying to shout over the artificially amplified music of a barroom. And, in the absence  of stories on a hiking trip, there is the listening and viewing of nature in all of its majesty - an activity onto its own.

And, so awkward silences are not awkward at all, they are a time for observing your surroundings and that is the expected behavior of a hiker. Hiking is the perfect social activity. It can help build bonds between your co-workers, your friends, and your families.

And, in lieu of Meetup groups and friends and family - you can still hike solo, and you will certainly build a bond between the many competing voices of your consciousness ... if you hike often enough.

There were a few added extras that made the trip between Summitwood and Edgewood on The Metacomet especially worthwhile. Brood 2 - The Magicicadas were making their once in 17 year appearance in CT. I had temporarily forgotten to be aware of this. As I stepped out of the car to meet the group I was overwhelmed by the pulsating chorus of the cicadas. My eyelids half closed, the spooky cicada drone immediately sent me into a zen meditation. On the traprock ridges we could hear below what sounded like a heavy machine on a construction site, and again I was surprised to realize that this was the enormity of the cicada mating music.

And, also, the weather was nearly perfect for an extra long hike. Now that the soupy New England July has come, I am less enthusiastic about traipsing into the woods. So glad we met in early June for this one.

Castle Craig on the Metacomet Trail
Castle Craig on the Metacomet Trail

For this route I have some recommendations: bring three bottles of water - 2 will not be sufficient. Plan on having lunch on the grass near Castle Craig. Bring trekking poles to help with the two particularly steep and long descents of loose rock. Seriously - the rocks here are plentiful, small, unstable, and altogether perfect for twisting an ankle. Have good hiking shoes - tennis shoes will not suffice. Be aware of the length of this trail and expect three hardcore climbs.

Whatever your level of hiking prowess may be - your legs will be hurting after this hike - Just because it is not a 'real mountain' does not mean that the climbs should be underestimated.  Expect to spend 4000 calories on the 8 mile route; bring trail snacks appropriate for that expenditure. For those not able to hike, you can drive to Castle Craig for the views.

Also, to note, there are many walk-able roads which loop back to the trail; because this trail route is horseshoe shaped, it is possible to make smaller looped routes or to cut the length of the hike if you find that it is too intense a challenge. If it is not enough of a challenge ... you free to continue on the entire New England Trail on to New Hampshire - Yes, this trail runs uninterrupted from Long Island Sound to the NH/Mass border. Enjoy it in all seasons.

Metacomet Blue Blazed Trail - Castle Craig Section


LOWEST ELEVATION: 300FT above sea level
HIGHEST ELEVATION: 1024FT above sea level

Trail Map and Directions

Edgewood Road Parking: N41.580365, W072.81988 | 610 Edgewood Rd.
Summitwood Drive Parking: N41.579185,W072.79608 | 50 Summitwood Dr.

From Bridgeport50 Minutes
From New Haven25 Minutes
From Hartford20 Minutes
From New London1 hour
From Providence2 Hours
From New York2 Hours


Along the Metacomet Trail
Along the Metacomet Trail 

A different view of Castle Craig on - The Metacomet
A different view of Castle Craig on - The Metacomet

The party takes a deserved break in the shade - The Metacomet
The party takes a deserved break in the shade - The Metacomet