Shenipsit : Dark Hollow Brook to Flat Brook Falls
Connecticut Forest and Park Association Blue Blaze Trail
in Glastonbury, CT
Parking: Best parking at 450 Toll Gate Road, South Glastonbury, CT but poor options at Imperial Drive and Diamond Lake Rd (which provide easier access to Flat Brook Falls)
This section of the Shenipsit Trail, north of Rt. 2 is an interesting mix of old and new trail that offers mountain laurel paths, limited views, and a great small waterfall.
Starting from the parking at the end of Toll Gate Rd the trail follows the old Route 2 which is paved and grooved for about a 1/2 mile. This is where the trail crosses Dark Hollow Brook. I would recommend a read of Peter Marteka’s article for a real feel for the section. The culverts for the brook that go under Rt. 2 provide a bypass for the road walk around. I took the culverts in 2016 when I first explored the area. Thankfully it was during a drought and they were passable, but my most recent hike enough water was rushing through to prevent any use. The CT DOT reviewed a plan in 2015 to put a walkway through the culverts, but
“Anything put in there will reduce the culvert’s hydrological capacity,” he said. “It can capture debris and clog. The culverts are not intended to carry human beings. We will continue to have an open ear, but based on our last review, we have safety concerns. We are talking about something that’s moving water and that’s something we don’t want to sign off as something that is OK to use. They aren’t pedestrian friendly.”
A recent change (Summer 2018) was the cutting of the woods buffer between the trail and Rt. 2. A large section of trees has been clear-cut and woodchipped wiping out some nice pines where the trail turns north away from the road. From here the trail scrambles up rocks to a ridgeline that you follow for a couple of miles through mountain laurel and young open forest. Several areas are likely wet year-round.
There is a limited overlook about 3.5 miles in that doesn’t capture much attention. The trail then descends towards Flat Brook. There is a very short blue/white spur trail to Flat Brook Falls (ironically named for sure, let’s hope it’s actually named for someone like Hezekiah Flat). The falls are stepped, dropping over 30 feet surrounded by mossy banks and conifers. The water was too high to cross, but stone seats and a fireplace sit just across the brook.
From the spur, the trail heads north along an unnamed brook to Imperial Drive. The CFPA lists it as a parking option, but I would say only for pick-ups and SUVs, the curb is just too high for anything else. Past Imperial Drive, the trail continues along the brook to some kind of man-made pond and through a brief hilly section to Diamond Lake Rd. I was able to park here despite the curb, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
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From Peter Marteka’s article on the area:
Although it is unclear exactly how the brook got its name, according to John Leshane, an expert on the legends of the Meshomasic, a stagecoach on the old toll road known as the Hartford and New London Turnpike plunged off a bridge and into the swollen brook, killing all aboard and forever haunting the ravine.
Peter Marteka – Exploring Meshomasic State Forest’s Dark Hollow Brook Will Bring Out Your Inner Child
Peter Marteka – Plans Call For Culvert Walkway To Avoid Route 2 On Shenipsit Trail In Glastonbury
Waterfalls of New England – Flat Brook Falls
If you want to see how much as changed in this section check out Steve at CTMQ’s write up from 2010.
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Last updated Nov. 14, 2018