Sunday, August 23, 2015

MA Appalachian Trail - Sections 7-8 - South Mount Wilcox shelter to Tom Leonard shelter

August 22, 2015

Distance: 10 miles
Time: 5 hours 29 minutes
Elevation Gain: 2,379 feet

Year to date miles: 510.7

Parking: Route 23, AT parking lot, room for around 6 cars

Map: Appalachian Trail Guide to Massachusetts Connecticut  

Restrooms: Privy at shelter

From parking area, cross street.
Hike south.
Cross dirt road.
Cross paved Lake Buel Road.
Pass ice gulch.
Hike to Tom Leonard Shelter.
Return to parking area.
Hike north.
Cross paved Blue Hill Road.
Cross Beartown Mountain Rd (paved but not sure if cars would ever be on it)
At Benedict Pond stay right.
There are lots of places to swim here.
Continue to South Mount Wilcox Shelter
Return to parking area.

Hike description:
Nice hike. In some spots we were walking on soft pine needle covered trail. So sweet for your feet. We enjoyed the ice gulch. Basically it's a pretty ravine - we saw no ice in it, but we didn't go down into the ravine. We stopped for a break at the Tom Leonard shelter. We read the trail register & saw an entry for a couple that we had met previously at the NY/NJ border a few weeks ago. They had passed through 3 days before us. Too bad we missed them. 

On the other side of route 23, the highlight of course was letting Trek swim in Benedict Pond. There are multiple nice places to go. There is a campground on the pond, so there were a few people walking around the lake and others kayaking. Here is a separate map for the pond area: Beartown State Forest 
Past that pond, we found an unmarked trail (on the left of the AT, just before a small wooden bridge). We took it and ended up at a beautiful beaver pond. No one was there (no car access), and the reflections in the water were beautiful. 

We saw a handful of thru hikers today, though the thru hiker traffic seems to be slowing down. We also spoke to a couple who asked us if we were thru hikers. We explained to them that we are section hiking - just 1 day at a time. They said, that is what they are sort of doing. That they are too old to do the whole AT, but they hike pieces of it. Then they told us they were 82 years old. Wow! 

Sign on route 23 for parking area

Beaver stream/swamp

Tom Leonard shelter

Benedict Pond, first stop

Beaver pond, past Benedict pond

View from the trail

Side trail to South Mount Wilcox shelter

Second stop at Benedict Pond - more swimming!

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