A Visit To A Not-So-Bald Mountain In Somers

Since my wife and I had children, we are never on time for anything. You name it -- dinners, movies, plays, band performances, baseball and soccer games – and we are late for it.

But during my annual fall trek to find the best places for leaf peepers to see the autumn foliage, I actually arrived on Bald Mountain early – as in way too early in the season.

Although the mountain is the highest point in Somers, it is very forested. And a mountain with big, tall, leafy trees and no rocky outcroppings on which to stand and look out onto the surrounding hillsides does little for leaf peepers. Until about mid-October, that is, when the trees finally give up their leaves and the view opens up.

But don't let the lack of an early fall view from the 1,121-foot mountain deter you. A vast majority of the mountain – 224 acres — is preserved by the town and the Northern Connecticut Land Trust. The 7,000-acre Shenipsit State Forest adds even more open space to explore along the eastern slope of the mountain.

Although the Connecticut Forest and Park Association's blue-blazed Shenipsit Trail is the only marked trail on Bald Mountain, the unmarked paths are easy to follow as they wind their way through deep woods and pine forests.

There are two ways to explore the mountain – an easy route, and a more demanding climb. The easier route begins at the end of Scully Road, where the pavement turns to dirt and a land trust sign and large gate greet explorers. The flat, dirt portion of the road twists past stone walls and large trees and a neat privately-owned cabin. The road eventually intersects with the Shenipsit Trail before traveling another mile and ending at a stream within the state forest.

The second route is a bit more strenuous and starts at the beginning of Bald Mountain Drive. The trail immediately begins an ascent to a deep pine forest. Although the trail levels out briefly, another steeper ascent awaits and runs up to the top of the mountain, where breaks in the foliage give visitors a vision of what the view will be in a few weeks.

Both routes link to the Shenipsit Trail, a 41-mile-long path that runs from the Cobalt section of East Hampton to the Massachusetts border. The trail takes visitors either up to the top of the mountain or down to the old road. There are also plenty of unmarked side trails to explore.

Although those seeking autumn glory might want to climb Bald Mountain soon, for those who wait until peak foliage season is over, the view will be even better.

To get there, take Route 190 to Turnpike Road. Take a right on Scully Road and park along the road near the intersection of Scully Road and Bald Mountain Drive.

Peter Marteka can be reached at 860-647-5365, at pmarteka@courant.com or at The Courant, 200 Adams St., Manchester, CT 06040.

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