Mattabesset Trail - Bluff Head - Lone Pine




The Mattabesett Trail is one of the three original Blue Blazed trails in CT. It joins with The Metacomet and Menunkatuck to form Connecticut's portion of The New England National Scenic Trail. The Mattabesett alone traverses 50 miles along traprock ridges through the Connecticut River valley. 
 




Climbing Bluff Head - Mattabesett Trail
Climbing Bluff Head - Mattabesett Trail
Now, here, this Mattabesett ... is a trail.

I could leave it at that. But, then this wouldn't be a blog post. So, let me reach down and feel out some poetry.

Amongst the blossoming columbines and greening mountain laurel; this year vaulted into the vitality of Spring with a pent up fervor - bursting plumes of golden-green pollen thickened the air so that forested hills on the horizon glowed in a distorting phosphorescent haze. Sunday morning's early light was never before so heavy with gold.

I stood at the edge of a traprock perch 400 swiftly acquired feet above my nearest neighbor, relaxed and solid and still; as though the subject of a Raphael portrait - unnaturally superimposed upon a fantasy landscape. My lands. My lands speak of my wealth. And, here are my lands, and here is my best disinterested face.

Out to pasture - on the Mattabeset
Out to pasture - on the Mattabeset
An art teacher of mine once told me that when painting a landscape be sure to include a pure white band separating the sky and land at the horizon. He said that this is how it actually appears in nature. I have often looked for proof of his claim. This morning while hiking the Mattabesett I saw that undefined and colorless space in the horizon for the first time. This was not my first time standing in a high place or looking out and down on a pastoral landscape.  This is not my first time objectively observing nature. But, it was one of those times when I needed to excuse myself - while I kissed the sky.

Bluff Head feels so much higher than it is. It is an easy climb from the shaded valley below. The buoyancy of the air that Sunday morning helped me immensely - floating me to the crests
Hiking The Mattabesett Trail
Hiking The Mattabesett Trail
and crags before I could wonder about the views from above. It is always wise to choose days when the air will be extra buoyant when planning a hiking trip.

The feeling of easiness and holistic peace that I felt as I circled Bluff Head is only slightly rivaled by my experience hang gliding over the fields of Southern Wisconsin. The world below is moving. Cars tack along highways, and ponies whinny in the pastures below; 
Traprock Ridge - Mattabesett Trail - Guilford CT
Traprock Ridge - Mattabesett Trail - Guilford CT
the forest gently sways. But to look on this scene from unobstructed heights is not unlike looking at a large photograph or painting. You can no longer see it for its individual actors - it is one object ... and complete.
These sweeping panoramas of seemingly unending forest give way to streams and stones - to North American trees posing as twisting and enigmatic Orientals; to moss carpeted basalt beds; to humming and singing birds - and hissing snakes warming themselves on sun dappled stones. These traprock ridges evaded the plow blade, and so the trees here tell stories of a century or two.

The Mattabesett is wide and easy. I will continue on it until it yields to The Metacomet. Then I will track the Metacomet to the Massachusetts border. But, on this past trip I took a hard right onto another trail - a blue blazed with a red circle at its center. This trail is The Lone Pine. It nearly
A Ranch or Stud along The Lone Pine Trail - Guilford CT
A Ranch or Stud along The Lone Pine Trail - Guilford CT
makes a loop and with a half mile of betting my life against Connecticut drivers on highway 77 (supposedly 35 mph - if you believe the signs) I was returned to the lot where I parked my car.

The Lone Pine is tame and quiet. I stopped for a snack on a bridge over a glistening stream where the North Slope trail connects to Lone Pine. But, the trail's notable feature is a stud - otherwise known as a horse farm - that included several nice pastures, an indoor and outdoor riding arena and breeding and training grounds. The trail follows a shaded dirt road between pastures. The horses were alive and active and put on a show of beauty even without their riders present.

Ruins of a cottage - Lone Pine Trail
Ruins of a cottage - Lone Pine Trail
Lone Pine wrapped around a pond directly below the high traprock perches I had earlier enjoyed. Time and space crystallized with the revelation of this reference point to here and there and now and then. A short stroll further brought me through the foundations of a well placed cottage that was abandoned for some unholy reason. You really must see this place to understand what I've just said. It is a notable place - and duly noted.

I was steps away from my car when my phone announced that I had completed precisely 7 miles. It was not quite noon. I was not weary, thirsty, or in any sort of pain or ache. For a Sunday morning walk, it wasn't half bad.

Views from The Mattabesett Trail - Guilford CT
Views from The Mattabesett Trail - Guilford CT

Views from The Mattabesett Trail - Guilford CT
Views from The Mattabesett Trail - Guilford CT

View of Bluff Head from The Lone Pine Trail
View of Bluff Head from The Lone Pine Trail



TRAIL INFORMATION

COUNTY: New Haven
COMMUNITIES: Durham
TOTAL MILES: 4 miles
POINTS OF INTEREST:
Hemlock Brook
Horse Far
ARTICLE LINKS:
Mattabesett Trail - Lone Pine - Bluff Head - Connecticut Explorer
Lone Pine Trail - CTMQ
Mattabesett Trail Part 10 - Lone Pine Trail - Connecticut Blue Trail Adventures



DIRECTIONS

Parking at Highway 77: Gravel Lot for 20 Cars - Information station for Mattabesset Trail.
Address for your GPS: 4450 Durham Road, Guilford CT | N41.40795, W072.69618

From Bridgeport45 Minutes
From New Haven25 Minutes
From Hartford45 Minutes
From New London45 Minutes
From Providence1.5 Hours
From New York2 Hours



LINKS

Bluff Head/Lone Pine Official Trail Map   -PDF Download

Guilford Land Trust 

New England National Scenic Trail

Connecticut Forest and Parks Association


PHOTOS

CLICK TO ENLARGE IMAGES
Lone Pine Trail - Guilford CT

Lone Pine Trail - Guilford CT


Lone Pine Trail - Guilford CT

Lone Pine Trail - Guilford CT


Lone Pine Trail - Guilford CT

Lone Pine Trail - Guilford CT


Mattabesett Trail - Guilford CT
Mattabesett Trail - Guilford CT



Erosion at Bluff Head - Mattabesett Trail
Erosion at Bluff Head - Mattabesett Trail

North Slope Trail - Guilford CT
North Slope Trail - Guilford CT




VIDEO