Summer Life
- Page 11
Hiking the Appalachian Trail continued
Continued from Page 10

and attempt a thru-hike of your own someday.

Rand’s View, Giant’s Thumb and Billy’s View
Now that the bridge over the Housatonic River near the hydro plant in Falls Village has been replaced, you can more readily drive up Sugar Hill Road to a hiker parking area near the end of the road, then walk the blueblazed trail to the A.T. (This used to be the actual A.T.)

It’s steep in a couple of spots but the rewards are great. You’ll pass the Limestone Spring lean-to and come to Rand’s View, one of the most surprisingly spectacular views along the entire trail. It gives the northbounder a look at what lies ahead on the A.T.: Lion’s Head, Bear Mountain and the Everett range in Massachusetts.

Moving on you’ll come to a limestone outcrop of a unique but familiar shape. Its name will tell you all you need to know: Giant’s Thumb.

From there it’s a short jaunt to Billy’s View, named for the son of nearby property owners because, as a boy, he would camp out at this spot. It’s a sublime view, not as spectacular as Rand’s View but lovely in its own right. You can turn back, or keep going, mostly downhill, to the Route 44 crossing in Salisbury if you parked a car there ahead of time to circle back.

Lion’s Head
From Town Hall in the center of Salisbury drive up Factory/Washinee Street and stay right at the fork with Mount Riga Road. Stay on Washinee, which becomes Bunker Hill Road. The hiker parking area is up ahead on the right. Private property is all around, including the land of a true celebrity, so don’t park in the road; and don’t stray from the marked trail.

Follow the blue-blazed trail to the A.T., then go north to the top of Lion’s Head. It’s steep in sections but again the rewards are great, with sweeping views to the south, east and north. You can also hike to the top via the A.T. from the A.T. hiker parking area on Route 41, just a quarter-mile north of Cobble Road. It’s longer that way, so plan to take extra time.

Either way, kick back on the rock outcrop that forms Lion’s Head, have a snack and water, and meet your fellow vista grabbers. Folks from all over head to this spot.

Bear Mountain
There are several ways to tackle the state’s highest peak, including continuing on north from Lion’s Head. There’s another approach from the west (my personal favorite), but the easiest to explain is via the Undermountain Trail from a hiker parking area off of Route 41, north of the A.T. trailhead parking lot near Cobble Road.

From the Undermountain Trail parking area, which has a privy in the woods, follow the trail steeply uphill to a fork in the trail. Stay left on the Undermountain Trail and connect with the A.T. near the southern base of the Bear Mountain summit.

Follow the A.T. north to the top, a gradual rock-slab climb thanks to the glacier that slid off this side. (The north side is steep, thanks again to the ancient ice wave that slammed into the north face and ground away at it before easing down the southern slope.)

On top are the remains of a stone tower you can climb so you can sit in a breeze that’ll blow away the bugs. There is no treeline in Connecticut, but this manmade structure puts you above tree level for excellent 360-degree views.

Sages Ravine
Although this magical notch in the mountain technically lies in Massachusetts, it’s maintained by the Connecticut Chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club and is accessible as part of a day hike thanks to the Paradise Lane Trail. Where you came to that fork on the Undermountain Trail (see above), bear right onto what’s called Paradise Lane to reach the A.T. below the Bear Mountain summit on its north side. From there head north (mostly downhill) to Sages.

The ravine is a playground for those who like cold running water in the heat of summer. There are numerous pools along the river, some of which you can jump into if you don’t mind the shock to your system.

There’s a tent site across the river, and unless it’s a drought year, the spring above the tent pads is pretty good for drinking water. (Treat it just the same.)

When you’re done, turn around and head back the way you came, unless you want to scale Bear the hard way, then walk back to the parking area via the Undermountain Trail.