About 2 weeks ago I got in another hike on the New England Trail (NET), in my quest to complete the NET 50 challenge. My brother joined me again and we took part in a led group hike through Penwood State Forest, using both the New England Trail and the orange and yellow trails to complete the loop. We completed all but about 2 miles of the complete NET section through Penwood S.F., and will be back to complete the rest.
In this area of the state this part of the New England Trail is made up of the Metacomet trail. This section is the one just north of Talcott Mountain, which features a popular trail destination, Heublin Tower.
It was cold and overcast when we met the hike leader Mat in the lot. His company is called “Reach Your Summit,” and I had actually met him a few years previous on the exciting St. John’s Ledges, on the Connecticut portion of the Appalachian Trail. We caught up a bit and when we had the full group assembled, we headed up the trail. It was just Mat, a retired state trooper (who I think I’ve also hiked with before – she seemed familiar), and us.
Mat was full of knowledge on the park founder Curtis H. Veeder and the park history, and we stopped at many of the observation towers or remnants he created when it was his land. We stopped at lake Louise as well which was flooding over the trail in a few spots including the dock, though we were able to walk out on it safely. We saw where Veeder formerly had his cabin overlooking the lake as well. There were some nice ridge walk views along the orange trail heading back but the best view was the spot known as the Pinnacle, on the NET portion.
There’s a wonderful, expansive view of the Heublin Tower, and the ridges of the Metacomet trail south of here. A brisk swirling wind kicked up as we reached the summit, as well as snow squalls. Not an hour sooner had I told Matt about my hike on the ridgelines of Mt. Higby in a snowstorm a few years back! I guess I jinxed it. That was our first snow of the season, and I drove through a few more squalls on the way back home. Nothing really stuck to the ground so it was no big deal.
All in all it was a 6.5 mile loop, and as connector trails are included in the challenge, I’m a bit closer now to completion! I’ve enjoyed using the challenge to explore more of this great new National Scenic trail. It really has many great views, and challenging terrain in spots. It just needs more overnight sites to facilitate thru hikes, and I know those will eventually come.
I was hoping to get out on the trails again over the holiday weekend but with all the family visiting I did not get a chance. I definitely plan to this weekend, and am aiming for one of two short sections left on the western spur of the Mattabessett section of the New England trail.