Real Fit for Real Life
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A little background: I relocated here from Utah. Hiking in Utah is very different. It lacks the lushness of CT woods, the mystery of trees upon trees creaking in the wind. But instead, it offers vastness and height and plenty of climbing and switchbacks. So I searched online to find a nearby short hike that offered the climb of a mountain, and I finally found one. I didn't quite achieve the vistas I wanted, perhaps had I hiked farther, but I was a slave to time last Friday morning, as I had the plumber coming "sometime around 11." Of course the one time you want him to be late, he arrives 15 minutes early and you have to run down a mountain! My life. But I digress . . .
So this hike is actually just a short snippet of the 20-mile Ives Trail. You can find a few online sites that describe this long hike, but who has the time for a 20-miler?! So I had to do some research to determine a stretch of this hike that a.) had parking and b.) offered somewhat of a destination and c.) fulfilled my 2-mile requirement. I learned that Moses Mountain is the 222nd highest mountain in CT at 971 ft. I know, not that impressive, but still. It's a mountain. And it's five minutes from my house. I'll take it.
You have most likely driven past Moses Mountain many, many times without realizing-- it's on the right side of route 7 heading north into Danbury. There is a noticeable parking area off of Route 7, just past the Elks Lodge. It's a decent size, possibly 4-5 cars, and as usual, no facilities at this trailhead. Quick note: this is a mountain. If your kids are weaklings or whiners, they might not love this hike! The tip with kids is to stop frequently for breaks on the way up. Remind them that the way down will be very fast and easy. Use hiking sticks/poles for this one. Or leave the kiddos home & use this hike to get a workout!
Walk straight into the woods and look for the Ives Trail marking-- a cute red and yellow sign with a music note for the trail's namesake, composer Charles Ives. They're pretty easy to find, so immediately hop on that trail heading north. Wear long pants, as you might have some thorny foliage to walk through to get on trail. Obviously you will get a lot of traffic noise here as well as gunshots from the nearby Wooster Mountain shooting range, which can be mildly terrifying. You might also get planes overhead flying into Danbury airport. So it's not the quietest hike I've been on, but still, it's worth it for the climb :)
You will quickly cross a stream and see a very pretty meandering waterfall. Cross carefully! I came the morning after a good, heavy rainfall, so the waters were probably deeper than usual! The key to water crossings is searching for some sturdy large stepping rocks. I found some a little higher up from the trail and crossed fairly easily. Take some photos here-- it's really beautiful. And to think that I drive by that almost everyday and never knew there was a waterfall there!
Again, this is a mountain, which means good incline and it starts right away! Be cautious when the ground is covered with wet leaves. I knew that for the hike down, with these wet leaves, I should find a decent walking stick, so when I came upon one alongside the trail, I grabbed it, stripped some of the bark, and it was perfect! Finally, a hike with switchbacks, just like my favorite hikes back in Utah. At .28 it veers to the left, so watch for the trail markings. At .62 the trail begins to descend some. So it's not all uphill!
In mid-November the ground is so covered in leaves, if it weren't for the trail markings you could easily get lost. Whenever it gets steep on the down, I just jog it. Better to go with gravity then to fight it! At .8 for you will land in what appears to be a dried up streambed. This ravine is beautiful in the morning. Take some photos here, then continue up until you see a tree with a box attached to it-- inside, you will find a visitors log that began in 2008. Of course, I added my own note, with this website and the date ;) I love that I could be a part of this time capsule marking 7 years' worth of hiking adventures! You could make this your final destination, but I continued to the 1-mile mark, hoping that there would be a scenic view. I even scrambled up some bouldery off trail, but there wasn't much of a view from there, and it was a risky move for a solo hiker. I try to be cautious when I'm all alone, following this simple rule: Don't be dumb.
So despite following the trail markings, according to my Runkeeper, I did not follow the trail map. Either my GPS was off, or the trail has changed somewhat since being published online. I wish I could've continued farther to determine if a greater destination spot lay ahead. I had to get back, so I turned around after my failed rock scramble.
For the first time in a long time, I came across fellow hikers. It was a large group of about 10 people, older people, who are part of the Appalachian Hiking Club. All I can say is, I am glad I was not popping a squat when I saw them! I also saw a giant frog or toad moving in the leaves that scared the bejeezus out of me. Even though I know these woods belong to the critters, I rarely see them! When I do, they break the silence in such a dramatic way as to startle me every time. At 1.68, keep your eyes up because the trail veers to the right and curves down and around. I know I always say a loop beats an out & back, but there is something to be said for seeing a trail in the reverse order. There are new sights to behold on the return trip-- what was first at your back is now open before you, and I find I take my Nikon out just as often, if not more frequently, on the return trip. So enjoy the hike back. It's a quick return, so engage your core, land softly and watch your knees. I actually prefer the uphill to the down, as uphill works the muscles and downhill jars the joints.
I plan to return to this one, journey a bit farther, and also find other stretches of Ives Trail to share with you! Enjoy!
Mother of 3. Fit-philosopher. Showing my kids how to be fit via living life to the max. Newbie photographer. Simplistic cook who shares easy, healthy meals. Lover of kid-friendly hikes & getting outdoors & unplugged.