Foliage Hike on the Ives Trail

Heading up the meadow

Heading up the meadow

Only about 30 minutes from home, Tarywile Park in Danbury, Connecticut offers beautiful ponds, farmlands, gardens, an environmental education center, a Victorian mansion and some great hiking. This includes a segment of the Ives trail, named for the late classical composer from Danbury. It traverses the park for about 6 miles. The trail starts in Ridgefield and travels about 20 miles through Danbury to Redding.

Even though I was feeling under the weather and it made the climbs a bit tougher, I was not going to sit out an opportunity to experience the peak of fall colors and not hit the trails this weekend. And nature did not disappoint me.

Mootry Peak, Thomas Mountain

Mootry Peak, Thomas Mountain

Last November my son and I did part of this same section of the Ives trail in the snow. Though we didn’t complete the climb to the top of Thomas Mountain because he got wet during a stream crossing and it was cold so we turned around promptly. I had previously ascended the peak on the trail from the west and that hike with him would have linked the summit east to Parks pond, but it was not meant to be. Still, that was a great hike and we felt good having made the safe and smart decision to head back to the car.

I did a few variations this time, ascending on the Mootry Peak trail to the sweeping lookout of the same name on top of Thomas Mountain. I went down the Ives, and then took a trail on the east side of Back pond, as we had already covered the western edge of it on the Ives Trail last year. Overall it was a 4-mile loop and despite the modest elevations, the terrain was fairly steep and got my heart pumping multiple times by way of several ups and downs. Thomas Mountain itself is about 1,000 feet high but the hill before it was a good climb in its own right, as was as the small hill on the east side of the pond where the trail went straight up for a short distance.

Nice fungus

Nice fungus

There are several summits along the Ives trail including Pine, Moses, Thomas, and Middle Mountains. It features some great vistas, lovely park, forest and pond walks and some challenging terrain, as well as one major road crossing. I’ve covered about 6-7 miles of it so far. I have really enjoyed the views from Pine Mountain and Thomas Mountain and the ravine between Moses and Thomas Mountains provided a challenging, A.T.-like experience. I intend to complete the rest of the trail in a few more pieces as its not far and offers enough challenge and solitude for me when I only have a few hours.

Fortunately on my hike I managed to get a few minutes by myself at the Mootry Peak lookout, hang my legs over the rocks and have a snack while taking in the view. I also had a garter snake slither right past me on the way down, which definitely surprised me.

Back pond

Back pond

There were two fire rings along the route I took, which I am pretty sure is not legal here. And sadly by one of them there was graffiti on the large rock nearby. I am glad J.S. loves R.B, but I don’t need to see it written on a rock, no matter how romantic your evening was. Have some class people. I am going to be optimistic and hope that they wrote it in charcoal, not black paint.

The views all around Back Pond were gorgeous. The rainbow of leaf colors reflecting off the water painted a beautiful, peaceful scene. Thoreau would have been rapt. I was. I hope I managed to capture some of the magic in my photo.

— Linus

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