Prospect Land Trust, Prospect
I’ve come to learn that when a piece or an end of an old CFPA blue-blazed trail drops off of the trail it was part of, the local land trust will often keep that piece alive on its own.
This is the case in Somers with the one northern end of the Shenipsit, all over the Valley with former pieces of the Naugatuck Trail, here and there with the Mattatuck… and here, at the old northern end of the CFPA’s oldest trail, the Quinnipiac.
The Connecticut Forest and Park Association created its first blue-blazed trail in 1930, a path that traveled from Prospect to Sleeping Giant State Park. Back in the day, the trail passed over Prospect’s Bluff Head and continued to wind its way south.
Since then the trail was rerouted and shortened – on both ends. The section along the Q River was lopped off before 2020 because it was simply unmanageable – though North Haven conservation efforts have saved a portion of it.
The north end was cut off in Cheshire somewhere, and the Bluff Head area in Prospect was cut off until Boardman W. Kathan donated 65 acres to the Prospect Land Trust in 2012.
That allowed for hiking remnants of the Q trail at Kathan Woods nature preserve in the northeast corner of town just over the Cheshire border. The three-mile-long trail system is made up of the “Old Log Road” marked with yellow blazes and a trail marked with blue blazes that incorporates the old Quinnipiac trail.
According to the land trust’s website, the old logging roads were used by teamsters for the Waterbury brass mills. Waterbury, known as the “brass city,” had factories that produced buttons, screws, coins, tokens, hinges, watches, and clocks. Scovill Manufacturing, American Brass and the Chase Brass & Copper Company helped to make the city one of the largest manufacturer of brass products in the world.
While Waterbury’s brass industry is never coming back, the Quinnipiac Trail actually did come back. In the early 2020’s, the venerable trail was reconnected through Cheshire and up and over Bluff Head again smack dab in the middle of Kathan Woods. The circuitous yellow trail on the logging roads still exists, and so does the blue trail along the ridge… but now the blue trail is the official Quinnipiac Trail again!
The trailhead is at the back of the Boardman Drive cul-du-sac. I mentioned in my page about Mixville Park that connecting the park to here is a very short road walk. If you’re so inclined.
The more normal option is to park at the end of Boardman Drive and hit the trail. Now, you could just walk around the relatively flat oval of the yellow trail. But you’re hiking. Go up the blue-now-Q Trail! This Bluff Head is an easier hike than the Bluff Head in Guilford along the Mattabessett Trail.
I’m not sure there’s ever much of a view on top, but it’s really nice.
After traipsing down the spine of the hill, the trail connects to the old log road again before splicing an old rock wall and heading towards some transmission towers.
There’s clearly a property rights issue here, as the Blue-now-Blue trail does a square-around before heading down to Route 68 and points south. Since this page is just about Kathan Woods, I’ll pick up again with the yellow trail to circle back to my car.
It leaves a logging road and wraps its way past an old spring house and through fern covered forest floor across a bridge passes beneath Bluff Head. The rock wall is impressive and gives one the impression that it’s very difficult to ascend. (It is not from the other, gentler side.)
I’m not sure who Bud Doyle was, but he clearly loved these wood. The bench on top of the hill is dedicated to him, and there’s an op-ed nailed to a tree here by his daughter.
“With each passing season I realize that I’ve been blessed with a like-minded view of nature’s ability to heal, connect and inspire and it all began with my dad’s example, so what better way to keep his spirit alive and close than to encourage others to find the gift of peace and community through their own fresh-air experiences.”
Good stuff. Tacked up to a tree at another “hidden” hike in the hills of Connecticut.