Whitestone Cliffs Trail
|Whitestone Cliffs Trail|
White Stone cliffs along trail.
|Length||1.7 miles (2.7 km)|
|Location||Mattatuck State Forest, Thomaston / Plymouth, Litchfield County, Connecticut, USA|
|Designation||CFPA Blue-Blazed Trail|
|Use||hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, rock climbing|
|Highest point||750 ft (230 m)|
|Lowest point||Naugatuck River|
|Trail difficulty||Easy to moderate difficulty, some rock scrambling.|
|Sights||Naugatuck River Valley, stone cliffs.|
|Hazards||hunters, deer ticks, poison ivy|
The 'Whitestone Cliffs Trail' is a 1.7-mile (2.7 km) Blue-Blazed hiking trail in the Waterbury area in Thomaston and Plymouth, Litchfield County, Connecticut. It is contained almost entirely in a section of the Mattatuck State Forest. The mainline (official "Blue" "non-dot") trail is a loop trail with one connector trail (Blue-Blazed with yellow dot) to the Jericho Blue-Blazed Trail.
The trail is listed as one of the Waterbury area trails in the Connecticut Walk Book West.
The Whitestone Cliffs Trail is a loop trail with spurs at the loop's bottom leading to Connecticut Route 262 in both the east and west directions. The eastern spur terminates at the trail's parking lot. The western spurs is the Jericho Connector trail which leaves Mattatuck State Forest, travels alongside the Naugatuck River before crossing it using Connecticut Route 262 and before heading under Route 8.
Notable features include a 750 foot summit and several overlook views. The trail goes near, but does not summit Mount Tobe. The trail is maintained largely through the efforts of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.
- 1 Trail description
- 2 Landscape, geology, and natural environment
- 3 History and folklore
- 4 Hiking the trail
- 5 Conservation and maintenance of the trail corridor
- 6 See also
- 7 References
- 8 External links
- 9 Further reading
Portions of the trail are suitable for, and are used for, cross-country skiing. Site-specific activities enjoyed along the route include bird watching, hunting (very limited), fishing, horseback riding, bouldering and rock climbing (limited).
The mainline trail is a rectangular/oval loop bounded by Route 262 on both the east and west (and by the Naugatuck River, rail road track and Route 8 a bit farther away but parallel to the western border).
The loop on the trail can be reached by a straight east-west spur from the Spruce Brook Road / Mount Tobe Road parking lot to the east or by the east-west Jericho Connector Trail from the west.
Several unmarked trails, dirt forest roads and seasonal streams cut across the trail.
The trail is entirely on Mattatuck State Forest property.
Landscape, geology, and natural environment
There are reports of small localized tremors and other geologic activity involving the White Cliffs, specifically involving an area less than one hundred feet in length on an eastern cliff edge in the Mattatuck State Forest facing Spruce Brook Road.
History and folklore
The Blue-Blazed Whitestone Cliffs Trail was created by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.
Origin and name
The trail is named for high stone cliffs which appear white when viewed from the Naugatuck River and Connecticut Route 8.
In the early 1840s the Naugatuck Railroad laid track parallel to the Naugatuck River near the Whitestone Cliffs western border. This line connected Winsted Connecticut to New Haven Connecticut with several stops in between including Thomaston and Waterbury Connecticut. The company built a spur rail line to their quarrying operation on the western edge of the white cliffs to produce stone material for railroad bridge abutments.
The pavilion near the trail head and parking lot was erected for an archery group which conducted target practice in this area of Mattatuck State Forest in the latter half of the twentieth century. There were once archery range markers in the woods close to the pavilion.
There is a bit of local lore (with some basis in fact) that a colonial settler living in the area in the late seventeenth or early eighteenth century was killed by a Native American. The cavity in the earth left by a long-gone house's stone cellar can be glimpsed from the trail on a ridge seventy to eighty meters from the trail's terminus and parking lot area. There is no evidence that this is where the killing took place though some may think so.
Hiking the trail
The mainline trail is blazed with blue rectangles. Trail descriptions are available from a number of commercial and non-commercial sources, and a complete guidebook is published by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association
Weather along the route is typical of Connecticut. Conditions on exposed ridge tops and summits may be harsher during cold or stormy weather. Lightning is a hazard on exposed summits and ledges during thunderstorms. Snow is common in the winter and may necessitate the use of snowshoes. Ice can form on exposed ledges and summits, making hiking dangerous without special equipment. 
Several sections of the trail are in low-lying areas or next to (or become) seasonal streams. Extensive flooding in ponds, puddles and streams may occur in the late winter or early spring, overflowing into the trail and causing very muddy conditions. In this case fairly high waterproof boots are recommended. Some parts of the trail follow forest roads which often contain a lot of loose stones or ruts from ATVs and four-wheel drive vehicles.
The trail is in Mattatuck State Forest where hunting and the use of firearms are permitted in season. Wearing bright orange clothing during the hunting season (Fall through December) is recommended.
Conservation and maintenance of the trail corridor
|This section requires expansion. (April 2010)|
- Colson, Ann T. (2006). Connecticut Walk Book West (19th edition). Connecticut Forest and Park Association. ISBN 0-9619052-6-3.
- Connecticut Walk Book: A Trail Guide to the Connecticut Outdoors. 17th Edition. The Connecticut Forest and Park Association. Rockfall, Connecticut. Undated.
- Comment by John G. White on November 11, 2009 on CT Museum Quest Blog page on Whitestone Cliffs Trail.
- Blog comment by John G. White on November 10, 2009 on CT Museum Quest's Whitestone Cliffs Trail web page.
- Metacomet Trail
Specific to this trail:
- ClimbFind Rock Climbing page on Whitestone Cliff in Plymouth, Connecticut
- CT Museum Quest Article on the Whitestone Cliffs Trail
- Books – Connecticut Hiking
- Colson, Ann T. (2005). Connecticut Walk Book East (19 ed.). Rockfall, Connecticut: Connecticut Forest and Park Association. pp. 1–261. ISBN 0961905255.
- Colson, Ann T. (2006). Connecticut Walk Book West (19 ed.). Rockfall, Connecticut: Connecticut Forest and Park Association. pp. 1–353. ISBN 0961905263.
- Emblidge, David (1998). Hikes in southern New England: Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont (1 ed.). Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books. pp. 1–304. ISBN 0-8117-2669-X.
- Keyarts, Eugene (2002). Pietrzyk, Cindi Dale, ed. Short Nature Walks: Connecticut Guide Book (7 ed.). Guilford, Connecticut: Falcon Publishing. pp. 1–192. ISBN 0-7627-2310-6.
- Laubach, Rene; Smith, Charles W. G. (2007). AMC's Best Day Hikes in Connecticut (1 ed.). Guilford, Connecticut: Appalachian Mountain Club Books. pp. 1–320. ISBN 1-934028-10-X.
- Ostertag, Rhonda; Ostertag, George (2002). Hiking Southern New England (2 ed.). Guilford, Connecticut: Falcon Publishing. pp. 1–336. ISBN 0-7627-2246-0.
- Books – Connecticut History and Geography
- De Forest, John (1853). History of the Indians of Connecticut from the earliest known period to 1850. Hartford, Connecticut: Wm. Jas. Hamersley. pp. 1–509.
- Hayward, John (1857). New England Gazetteer: Containing Descriptions of the States, Counties, Cities and Towns of New England (2 ed.). Boston, Massachusetts: Otis Clapp. pp. 1–704.
- Trumbull, Benjamin (1797). Volume One A Complete History of Connecticut - Civil and Ecclesiastical. Volume I (1818 printing ed.). New Haven, Connecticut: Maltby, Goldsmith & Co. and Samuel Wadsworth. pp. 1–1166.
- Trumbull, Benjamin (1797). Volume Two A Complete History of Connecticut - Civil and Ecclesiastical. Volume II (1818 printing ed.). New Haven, Connecticut: Maltby, Goldsmith & Co. and Samuel Wadsworth. pp. 1–1166.