November 25, 2018
I love family and I love hiking; so, I have had a perfect week hiking daily with family in Connecticut. Hiking daily was not always the first choice for our nine year old granddaughter, but once we got moving, Julie had a good time with the rest of us.
I really am only familiar with this southern part of Connecticut in the Guilford area, but from the hiking guide I have looked at and the many hikes we have done, I would say that Connecticut is a great place for hiking. Shawn keeps assuring that we try new trails. There are many blazed trails in state forests, conservation areas and preserves. Plenty of hills to energize me as we go up and down through forests, along rivers, and lakes or clamber over rocks on the shore of Long Island Sound. Actually the grandkids do more of the rock climbing while I am delighted to capture them in photos.
Until today all of our hikes were less than a half an hour’s drive from our son’s. Today we drove for forty-five minutes to the east side of the Connecticut River to the Devil’s Hopyard not far from East Haddam and Goodspeed. The latter has a wonderful nineteenth century frame opera house and several other interesting buildings with turrets, the better to view the river!
The 860 acre Devil’s Hopyard State Park has beautiful Chapman Falls. We could not see the devil’s footprints at the bottom of the falls as there was way too much water rushing over the sixty foot escarpment. We also did not see any hops although a man named Dibble once grew hops here. We followed the orange loop in a clockwise direction which took us up, up, up, 138 metres of ascent and of course, the same descent! We hiked 4.37 kilometres in two hours, stopping for photos of the falls, river, lookouts and forest of oaks, beech, birch, pine and hemlock. Even in an area which had seen a forest fire it was obvious these trees had been here a long time. Brian lost count of tree rings at ninety on one stump where he was trying to figure out its age. Shawn cast his fishing line into several clear pools but no fish for supper.
Alex climbed into the Devil’s oven, a tight cave, just his size, in the cliff side high above the main trail. The devil was not around to light a fire under him. The trail must look very different in each season. Spring would be incredible with all the azaleas and laurel along the path. We saw one deer that did not rush away but stayed behind enough trees to make getting a photo too difficult.
It rained hard most of last night which made the trail muddier than it would have been yesterday, but not bad at all. Each day this week has been warmer. We got up to a balmy 11 C today and shed headbands, gloves and even jackets at times. Naturally the sun did not come out until we finished our hike, but the woods were still delightful.
We stopped at the nearby Two Wrasslin’ Cats Cafe for delicious cappuccinos, hot chocolate and shared cinnamon buns. This is a delightful cafe with super friendly owners and cat decor, famous people, local art and customer poems lining the walls. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend it.
We were going to take the Hadlyme ferry across to Chester since we saw that it was running until November 30th, but when we arrived at the ferry dock, the ferry was not operating. Apparently the water was too high and we missed the last ferry by minutes.
We saw many waterfalls along the road on our way home, falls that we had not noticed going in the opposite direction.
After a hearty Tuscan bean soup made by Agnes, the kids have gone to do homework; Shawn is working on his laptop, Agnes went grocery shopping; Brian is starting supper preparations and I took time to write about our adventure.
Maybe we will have time for another family game of Five Crowns before this day is done. Tomorrow we head for Niagara then home while it will be back to work or school for everyone else. We are very thankful for a wonderful long Thanksgiving weekend hiking with family and as always, eating very well!