Easy Wilderness in Elizabethtown

Ground CedarThis week when thunderstorms were threatening just about every hour I cancelled two trips and it never stormed. By Thursday I decided to brave the forecast.  I had planned to bike or paddle but in light of the thunder that was predicted I opted for low elevation and good canopy at the Blueberry Trails in Elizabethtown.  I've been working with two young hikers on completing the entire circuit of the trail system and we hadn't covered the most remote trails near the top of Bronson Way.  We drove up the road and parked at the trailhead of the Buggy Trail. The cool, rainy weather seemed to take care of any bugs that might have bothered us and we headed out to explore.  Creek on #20

All the trails in this system are mapped, numbered and named.  The navigator in our crew was relying on the number system--14 to 15 to 17, then 18, 20, 19, 16 then back via 15.  Most of the trails are short connectors but some are up to half a mile long. They are easy to string together into a custom hike, depending on the terrain you want and the purpose of  your outing.

On Thursday we were exploring new terrain and on the look out for interesting wildlife.  On both counts we were satisfied.  The Buggy Trail (14) leads to the Bobcat Cut (15) which climbs up a short steep hill.  At the next intersection we did a quick loop on the Connector (18) where there was a carpet of Lycopodium--Ground Cedar, Tree Clubmoss and Running Clubmoss. The bright green popped against last fall's brown leaf litter in a beautiful design. From there we headed out the Boundary Trail (17).  As its name suggests, the trail follows the perimter of the Town trail system around the top of a flat plateau which is just opening out with wet, super-green deciduous leaves. Creekside Trail

We came to another intersection and turned down steeply through switchbacks under a red pine stand on the Creekside Trail (20).  This trail is the most remote of all the trails in this system and well-worth the trek to get there.  The creek had plenty of water and gurgled happily beside us.  There were birds that hadn't been calling up on the plateau and I wished I knew my calls better.  We found huge, fluffy catkins from big-toothed aspen and lots of yellow and brown striped millipedes.

After a nice stretch through young hemlocks, we turned back up the hill on the Ridge Trail (19) and looped back around the top of the plateau on Moss Cut (16) then back down the Bobcut Cut (15) to the road. 

This winding system takes advantage of a variety of forest types and although there are no open views in this section, the forest seems intimate and familiar.  The diversity and age of the trees and plants still retain a wild character. The boys I was with took time to look at the details of the forest floor. They discovered snails and all sorts of insect sign and woodpecker activity.  We liked a clever bridge made from a downed trunk. Rather than toss it aside the trail crew had made the cut log into a few nifty steps up and over the trunk. Nice trail work Since horses are allowed to use this trail we pictured it making a nice low jump.

Our hike ended up being about 2.5 miles with very little elevation gain or loss.  It seemed like an excellent prospect for a winter ski trip.  The find of the day was a morel--two actually.  But I wouldn't want to give away the location and spoil the search for anyone...

Castle on the Adirondack Coast
Of Crows and Great Horned Owls