Condition of Trail: Varied, but generally fair to poor
Trail Ambassador Name: Tom Ebersold
The state has now posted a map of this area, and it may be downloaded from the DEP's Website.
Encounters and Observations: I rode the trails at the Naugatuck Forest from Downs Road because I wanted to get a better sense of where they go. The area is definitely confusing, particularly by the border with Brooksvale Park. The trail surfaces are generally challenging to ride. Many trails are washed out, due to a combination of slope and ATV damage, leaving a scattering of rocks and branches along the trail. The woods roads have patches of gravel, some quite large and loose.
There are many illegal single-track trails near Brooksvale Stream. I spoke with Lori Lindquist, park supervisor, this past week. She said she would like to eliminate those trails, and said the state already removed a wooden "playground" that some mountain bikers had installed at the forest. I can see why the state would want to eliminate those trails. Some were as steep as 45 degrees, giving added emphasis to the concept of "fall line" trail.
Work Performed: After my ride, I reblazed the Brooksvale Trail, having already gotten permission for the task from Lori Lindquist. Brooksvale Trail runs along the southern border of the park, starting at Downs Road, and ending at the border of Brooksvale Park. If you had difficulty following the trail, it is because the blazes were so faded, or non-existent. The trail is now clearly blazed in White. The existing blazes were often too high, so I placed the new blazes at eye level, which is where they belong. As you use the trail if you see a fresh blaze at eye level and an old blaze a foot higher, that's why. Old blazes are a trail worker's dilemma. If you leave them, they can be confusing to people. If you paint over them, people wonder what is under the paint. Painting over them also preserves them for the future. I painted over the old blazes where I felt it was confusing to keep them. The others I simply left alone and they will fade away over time. The old blazes had different colors underneath. Many were light blue with a red dot, the color now used on the Quinnipiac Connector trail. Others were orange or red. I definitely painted over these colors.
There are a few spots where they are bypasses around muddy areas. I blazed the bypasses and used branches to block off the original trail. If you come to one of these areas, please follow the bypass and leave the original trail to heal. I also trimmed back some overhanging brush, but did not get to all of it because I did not have the time. There was one tree across the trail that needs to be stepped over, and should be removed, but I did not have the tools for that. I have permission from Lori Lindquist to blaze Brooksvale Road, which is the woods road that runs from Cromie Road to the border of Brooksvale Park. As a point of orientation, Cromie Road starts at the YMCA entrance on Downs Road and extends to the gas pipeline. By blazing this unblazed road, it should really bring clarity to the trails in the area, particularly near Brooksvale Park.
I had planned to replace the bridge across Brooksvale Stream near Downs Road, but someone beat me to it. The area on the east side of the bridge is very muddy year-round, and could definitely benefit from some armoring with rocks. It would be great if someone were willing to take on this project.
Location: Naugatuck Forest, Hamden
Trail(s) Ridden: Brooksvale Rd., Brooksvale Trail, Cromie Rd., gas pipeline, assorted unmarked trails
How did you use the trail: Bike, then trail blazing and minor brush clearing
What was the time of day: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Hours: 7 (3 hours biking and 4 hours blazing)
Distance: 9 miles (7 biked and 2 hiked)