Hiking Round Mountain, Mount Frissell, and Brace Mountain • Connecticut High Point • NY/CT/MA Tri-Point • Bash Bish Falls • April 7, 2017
As you can tell from the above description, this was a very eventful hike with several points of interest in just under 6 miles of trail! Even with a chance of rain in the forecast, we decided we were ready for a real adventure. Out of the 4 peaks we were considering, the hike to reach Connecticut’s high point had the best forecast, so to Connecticut we went!
Unfortunately, after driving 2 hours we learned when we arrived that the road we had been planning to take was impassable due to a bridge being under construction. We ended up driving around this entire area, making a big circle through Massachusetts, Connecticut, then back into New York before finally finding a way there 45 minutes later. I had assumed that because this is a state high point on the East Coast that there would be a road to the top and it would be easy to reach, but that wasn’t the case here at all! We drove down several long dirt roads to the middle of nowhere until we came to a small pull off on the side of Mount Washington Road. There were no signs or trail maps, but Curtis had done the research ahead of time to know where to park and what trail markers to look for. There was one other car parked here, but we never saw the other hiker(s). From the pullout on the left side of the road, we walked downhill to the trailhead on the right side…and came across our next obstacle.
The trail didn’t look like a trail. In this season, it looked a lot more like a creek. Thanks to all the snow melt and rain, the trail was covered in water, sometimes flowing, other times at a stand still. At first we could get by with walking on the “high ground” made of leaf piles on the edge of the trail, but it wasn’t long before even those disappeared and we had no choice but to walk through the water. It was almost exactly like our hike in Aravaipa Canyon — which would have been totally fine if only I had known to prepare myself mentally for it! I think Curtis was worried right from the beginning that this whole hike would be miserable, but I decided right then and there that this was his “birthday adventure” since his 24th was 2 days away, so I was going through with it no matter what. I’ll accept my wife of the year award now.
After a quarter mile or so, the trail turned to the left and we were no longer walking through standing water! We trudged along in our wet, squishy boots, relieved to have made it through. Of course, the reason why the trail was no longer wet became apparent shortly after: our next challenge was to basically climb/scramble up a rock wall. Charlotte took off running up it, and we didn’t see her again until we reached the peak — show off. It honestly wasn’t that bad though, once I get confident enough I actually prefer this type of “hiking” compared to walking up extremely steep slopes. The rocks were a little wet, but there were enough trees to help pull myself up. I’m always thankful when we get to climb up rocks like this as opposed to climbing down.
Before we knew it, we had reached our first peak of today — Round Mountain in Connecticut. When we made it to the top, the sky was overcast and clouds hid much of our view. We were actually pleasantly surprised to find that this is a bald peak with 360º views. I wasn’t expecting that with us being just under 2300 feet above sea level. Too bad the clouds were in the way. It was looking like yet another cloud covered highpoint for us.
Curtis looked for a letterbox while I tried to stay out of the wind. Sadly he was not able to find it, and we decided it was time to get off the peak when we noticed that there were flurries in the air and our wet feet were feeling a little numb. We began our descent down the other side of Round Mountain, headed toward our next peak: Mount Frissell in Massachusetts!
We hiked down the more gradual trail, where we lost about 120 feet of elevation in maybe a tenth of a mile, then began to climb again. At this point, we had hiked only 1 mile which I had a hard time believing — it already felt like much more! The climb up Mount Frissell was similar to going up Round. We gained about 300 feet making it to our highest point of the day — Mount Frissell, 2450 feet. The summit for this peak is surrounded by trees and does not have a view as Round does. We logged into the hikers log and the letterbox, then continued on our way. 2 peaks in, and we were still only a fifth of the way done with this hike!
However, at this point we had passed the hardest parts of the trail and were now enjoying a gradual descent along a ridge. And lucky for us the clouds were clearing giving us great views into Connecticut on our left. Along the ridge, we came to our next significant spot: the highest point in Connecticut! This is actually pretty interesting, as the highest POINT and the highest PEAK in CT are 2 different places. The highest peak is Bear Mountain at 2323 feet above sea level, which was South-East of where we were. The highest point, however, is along the South slope of Mount Frissell, at 2379 feet. It was pretty easy to find the exact spot with a large pile of rocks and the waypoint marker. We got our official high point pictures and Curtis found a couple letterboxes here. This is officially our 8th high point together — Charlotte’s 7th, Curtis’ 8th, and my 10th. 🙂
Our next point of interest came about a quarter mile later: the NY/MA/CT State Tri-Point! This is the first tri-point that we’ve visited, though we have visited 4 Corners before when we lived in AZ. As exciting as it was, we were pretty annoyed by how many letterboxes there were right here. It seemed like Curtis was pulling them out of everywhere and I just planted myself in the middle, logging in to each one and trying to keep the logbooks dry from the light drizzle now falling. By the time I was finished, my fingers and toes were numb again and we were more than ready to press on to the end!
The trail went back into Connecticut, and we followed it West into New York. A half mile later, the trail met up with the South Taconic Trail. We had the option here to add ½ a mile to our hike by hitting one more peak, Brace Mountain, and while I had been skeptical beforehand about it, I changed my mind when I saw a bit of the view into New York and the condition of the trail. The view to the West on the South Taconic Trail was my favorite from the entire hike, and the trail to Brace Mountain was a wide path that was free of mud and puddles. It took us no time at all to stroll to the bald peak, enjoy the great view, then make our way down. Plus, how cool is it to say that we hiked one trail that took us to 3 different peaks in 3 different states?! It’s not every day that that happens! I will say though, after enjoying the peak, we were even more disappointed in letterboxers who planted so many boxes at the tri-point, while this beautiful peak had nothing. I wouldn’t have minded having to stay a little longer here!
We retraced our steps back to the trail intersection, then began our final descent on this trail. Soon enough, we were back walking through water rushing down the trail, and standing water on the flat parts of the trail. While the walk back was easy, it was also a little boring compared to the rest of the trail. The peak of Brace Mountain was only the halfway point of our 5+ mile loop, and then the last mile of our hike was walking along the road back to our car. On the plus side, the road was actually dry so it was a very easy walk.
It was along the road that Charlotte decided things were a little too boring, so she needed to stir up some drama. She has a gift for sniffing out animal carcasses and loves to roll in them, and today she found one that she hadn’t rolled in before: a porcupine! Cue my face-palm here! We were letting her run without her leash since there wasn’t any traffic due to the closed road, and at one point she ran off to the side and we continued walking. We looked back to see her fully enjoying herself rolling in something, laughed, and called for her to join us. She came running toward us and passed us, then we noticed she had something on her…all over one side. We caught up to her and realized they were quills. She let us remove them all from her with no issues and didn’t seem bothered at all — and while we were very glad she didn’t seem hurt, we worried that she hadn’t suffered any consequences from her first meeting with a porcupine. (Foreshadowing…more on that in a different post! *face palm*) Hey, at least it wasn’t a skunk, right?!
Once we made it back to the car, we began our long drive home, but first made one more stop along the way: Bashbish Falls State Park in Massachusetts. Like I mentioned in my last post, it’s waterfall season, and we seriously saw these twin falls at the perfect time! There are 2 different ways to hike to the falls: one trail starts in Massachusetts and is ¾ of a mile long with about 300 feet elevation change, and the other begins just across the border in New York and is 2 miles long with no elevation change. We opted to go for the shorter trail in Massachusetts, and it turned out to be a pleasant walk on a well-maintained trail. We hiked to the falls, enjoyed the views, found some letterboxes, then made our way back.
And there you have it — an exciting and eventful hike for all my faithful readers who have stuck with me through a long and boring winter. 😉 Even though this was only 5 miles, it felt great to get started on another season of hiking!