Summer Mapped, Summer Not
Summer Hill Trail, Madison
Madison has many very nice little trailed properties. State Park, State Forest, Water Authority, CFPA… trails everywhere. Beaches, forests, and fields. It’s great. And the Madison Land Conservation Trust has over a dozen properties throughout the oblong coastal town.
With so many parcels and trails, they can’t all be great. As lovely as Madison is, it’s not in the Rocky Mountains. Knowing that, I can’t dump on the Summer Hill Trail too much. It serves as an important buffer near the sound for wildlife and greenspace. And for my purposes, its hiker’s lot on Summer Hill Road provided me a place to park to get to my real goal for the day: the RWA’s Lake Hammonasset property.
Sorry Summer Hill, but that’s just the way it is sometimes. The 77-acre Summer Hill Preserve was purchased in 2011 and connects to the much larger RWA property. It is not very exciting – especially in pre-dawn January darkness.
I hustled along its well-marked and cleared blue trail to the RWA forest roads that would take me around the lake. The RWA properties require a permit that you must purchase. Of course, it’s not like there’s a guard at every connecting trail intersection, and lots like Summer Hill’s circumvents the gated and locked RWA lot issue, but c’mon people. Pay the piper. (And most of RWA’s properties are worth the fee, so you won’t feel ripped off.)
I passed Summer Hill’s main feature just as dawn was dawning. It’s a beaver pond… not dissimilar to any other beaver pond anywhere. Shortly thereafter I reached the RWA property and left Summer Hill behind for a couple hours or so.
Upon return, with sun shining, I re-entered the same MLCT property and noticed many things I didn’t see in the darkness earlier. Some cool rock features and cliffs and an entirely different trail. The map shows a lollipop loop, but I found myself on a different trail heading south towards route 80 (Toll Gate Road). I knew I was headed in the wrong direction, but had misplaced faith that it would ultimately loop back around towards my car.
That did not happen but once I realized it wouldn’t, I had passed the point of no return. I wound up on the fairly busy road and after checking every map available, was a little bit annoyed that the trail doesn’t yet appear anywhere. (It likely does now, as you’re reading this in the future.)
The unmapped trail will connect you to the the MLCT’s Bailey Woods North trail across route 80 to the east a bit, which is cool. Walking back to my car long roads wasn’t so cool, however. It’s like a hiker’s walk of shame.