Search This Blog

Friday, May 17, 2019

Connecticut's Best Hikes - Ragged Mountain Loop - Berlin CT

Ragged Mountain - May 2019

A lot of us write off Connecticut as a hiking destination.  When someone references the Constitution State, I am willing to bet your first thought isn't "so many great hikes there"!  Its probably more along the lines of lobster rolls, high taxes, New England charm, and life on the beach.  Even if you are a Connecticut native, it is easy to hop in your car and head to the Whites of New Hampshire, the Greens of Vermont, the Berkshires in Massachusetts, or the Adirondacks in New York to experience what hiking in the northeast truly has to offer.

And yes, living in Utah and having so much amazing hiking right outside my apartment really spoiled me.

A lot of our hikes in Connecticut tend to feel like more of a "walk in the woods", a nice little stroll among dirt trails and trees.  Summit views and elevation?  Not always guaranteed.  So when I find a hike that has some awesome views and gets my heart rate up I am pleasantly surprised and feel like I am winning at this game called Have It All.  A chance to spend some time in the woods without having to be landlocked? Hike in the morning lobster bake in the evening?  Turns out, I can have my cake and eat it too.

Koda on the Trail 

So how did my hiking boots find their way to Berlin?  If I am being completely honest, I first hiked Ragged Mountain at the end of November on a second date (Hey Mike if you are reading).   It was after a first date at Celtic Cavern in Middletown over good food and better beer that I decided Mike did not appear to be the CraigsList killer and a second date out hiking with our dogs was in order.

Ragged Mountain was a recommendation from my friend Rob who lives in the central Connecticut area and again, if I want to be completely honest, someone who I had also been out on a few dates with but quickly befriended instead (2018 was an interesting year guys, trust me).  I asked Rob for a hike with awesome views which also had some elevation and distance.  We had been on a hike/drinking tour in the Catskills so when he told me about a great hike ten minutes away from a dog-friendly brewery, I knew this was going to be a good one.

So off I went, on a hike I will fondly remember as the Second Date Hike.  We didn't complete the entire loop but instead, spent the morning hiking an out and back route with our dogs who happily ran around like little maniacs before heading to Alvarium, a dog-friendly brewery, and later on World of Beer and Bar Taco.   Wonder what dating me is like?  There you have it.  It involves a lot of the outdoors, happy dogs, good food, and a fair amount of local beer.

Ragged Mountain, November 2018

It was a good day in good company and although we went out separate ways a few dates later, I was immediately impressed with this Connecticut Hike.  So impressed I knew I wanted to write about it and include in my Connecticut "Must Hike" list (in the works).  But of course, I didn't want to be that crazy girl with blog taking many (many) pictures on a date so I just enjoyed this first hike with one quick photo snapped.  So when a girlfriend and I were planning a spring hike in Early April, I added Ragged Mountain to my list of hikes to return to and blog about - 30 pictures and Strava statistics included.  Thanks, Dana for all the photo breaks, and for being lovely company during this awesome hike "redo".  

Views of the reservoirs from the Blue Trail 

It was a surprisingly humid day in May and we were prepared for some muddy trails after weeks of April showers.  We decided on the counterclockwise loop and after meeting at the trailhead and getting out dogs and bags together, we were off, two 30 something women who share a love for the outdoors and two black lab mixes who share a love of running wild on trails.  

Reservoir views through the trees 

Turning onto the Blue / New England Scenic Trail 

We made our way around the loop, chatting about life, her upcoming wedding, relationships, family, traveling, and of course our dogs.  When we turned onto the Blue trail (New England Scenic Trail and the Metacomet Trail) which hugs the ridgeline, we were instantly impressed with the views below.  To our right, we could see gorgeous properties (mega mansions folks), rollings hills and Shuttle Meadow and Wassell reservoirs in the distance.  This hike has some pretty great viewpoints - even for Connecticut and an elevation below 1,000 feet.

Dog "swimming holes" 

I definitely recommend a sturdy waterproof hiking shoe as there were a few spots of steep rocky pitches or spots where we had to cross a creek running across the trail.  There were even more spots where the dogs would leap into some dark murky stagnant water where 5 billion mosquitos had to be living. 

Views along the Red/Blue trail 
Eventually, we turned back onto the Red/Blue trail and made our way back to the car.  The dogs took off on a 10-minute deer chase and even for a Saturday morning, we were amazed at how few people we saw on the trail.  Dog-friendly, a decent distance, some elevation and sweeping views along a lot of the hike.  If you want to work up a sweat and see some of Connecticut's views, then this hike should be on the top of your list.  It is making its way onto my Top 10 list for these very reasons.

Olive on the trail 

istance:  5.5-miles

Elevation Gain: about 930 feet

Max Elevation: 761 feet

Parking Area/Trailhead:  Off West Lane - plug 437 West Ln, Berlin, CT 06037 into Google Maps.  There is no formal parking lot but instead, a few spaces at the trailhead and hikers park along the right side of West Lane.

Dogs and Kids:  Yes to dogs and yes to older kids (distances, pitches, ledges).

Amenities:  Nothing at the trailhead.  Use the bathroom before you arrive, no garbage, no trail maps to take with you (print a Trail Map here).

Trail Guide:  I did the loop (counterclockwise) around the park.  From the trailhead, head right and follow the Red/Blue trail for 1.5 miles to the Blue Trail (New England Scenic Trail/ Metacomet Trail).  Take a left onto and follow the Blue Trail for 2.3 miles.  Turn left back onto the Red/Blue trail and follow that for 1.5 miles back to the start.  If you want to make the loop shorter, there are several trails running through the preserve.  Blue/Orange, Yellow, and Blue/Yellow will cut across and take you back to the Red/Blue trail or back to the trailhead.

Note*:  It is easy to get off trail or to accidentally take a turn onto the other trails that cut through the park.  Always keep your eye out for the Blue/Red or Blue blazes on the tree.  Take a picture of the map and be aware of the trail direction, it isn't always obvious or well marked in some spots.

Red/Blue Trail 

Olive on the trail 

Koda along the ridge 

No comments :

Post a Comment

Let's Chat!