It’s an exciting time to hike the Mattabesett Trail! Why? Because our Federal government finally stopped worrying about trivial matters such as war, terrorism, and the economy and started doing important things like designating National Scenic Trails! The Mattabesett (along with the Metacomet and Monadnock trails) form the MMM system from New Hampshire to south central CT. And it’s looking good to become more-or-less protected. Not like Appalachian Trail protected, but better then nothing.
This is especially exciting for the Mattabesett because it would be extended from some point along it’s lower “hook” down to the Long Island Sound. And that, my friends, is cool. But the protected corridor is much more important; the trail suffers from continual land owner disputes, trail relocations, multiple highway and road crossings, and a wayward gun range for spice.
But don’t think for one second that this 50-mile trail is therefore somehow not worth hiking. It is… it totally is. From it’s western terminus on the Berlin Turnpike (upon crossing one can continue up the Metacomet Trail), the Mattabesett immediately ascends to one of Central Connecticut’s traprock ridges and takes in stunning views. The number and quality of viewpoints along the U-shaped trail does not diminish – or so I read, it’s not like I’ve hiked it all yet. [Note: Now that I have, I concur.]
The bottom of the U-shape is in Guilford near Bluff Head and the Eastern end is along the Connecticut River in Middletown. There is much history along the way as well as a cave and other cool little curiosities to explore.
Again, as with the Metacomet and other trails in the middle of the state, I’m continually amazed at the remoteness and vistas one can obtain very, very quickly. So many people live so close by to this (and other) trails and yet, mine is still often a solitary pursuit. Well, at least y’all can read along with me as I hike it from west to east.
(Note on the Name: Middletown occupies the site of an Indian village, Mattabesec or Mattabesett (from Massa-sepues-et, ” at a great rivulet or brook”), the principal village of the Mattabesec Indians, an Algonquian tribe which included the Wongunk, Pyquaug and Montowese Indians and seems to have had jurisdiction over the whole of south-western Connecticut. The township of Middletown was settled by whites in 1650, and until 1653, when the present name was adopted, was known by the Indian name, Mattabesett.)
Mount Higby looking Northwest