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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pittsfield State Forest

Another mild January day brought me to Pittsfield State Forest for some hiking with my cousin Kaylah.  The Department of Conservation and Recreation manages the 11,000 acre State Forest located in west Pittsfield near the New York state line.  There are over 30 miles of multi-use trails and 32 camping sites available.  A seasonal circuit road runs through the forest and provides access to a scenic vista pull off as well as to Berry Pond, the highest elevation pond in the entire state.
The pristine Lulu Brook runs near the main parking area.  It's crystal clear waters make for a peaceful setting as they cascade down towards a footbridge.

 At the edge of the parking lot and across the road is the Lulu Brook Trail. It's winding and muddy trail runs along the banks of Lulu Brook for nearly 2 miles.
Within several feet of the road, Lulu Cascade can be seen.  It is only about 4 feet high, but very pretty.
Further along the trail there are many other small cascades and falls that make this trail a favorite of forest visitors.
The gentle sound of the stream running beside the trail is very tranquil.
The woods have an early spring appearance with high water and leaves dominating the scene, instead of snow and ice.
There are many, many trails that run through this forest and most are unmarked so without a map it can get extremely confusing.  In fact, lack of signage would be my biggest complaint about the trails here.  After heading back down to the main parking lot, I crossed Lulu Brook and then crossed the large field that leads to a wide trail heading into the woods.  Not sure what trail this is but it lead to a large comfort station area with restrooms that looks fairly new.  

I soon came out at the Berry Pond Circuit Road and crossed it to a blue blazed trail that appeared to be the Parker Brook Trail according to my map.  The rushing water confirmed that I was indeed at the Parker Brook footbridge but there were several trails that entered the woods once I crossed.  I stayed on the trail that seemed to follow the brook.  Parker Brook is a beautiful mountain stream that flows down from Tilden Swamp and eventually meets up with Lulu Brook before emptying into Onota Lake.
There are a series of cascades along the length of the brook.  Just downstream from the footbridge are the most pleasing to view.
The trail rises steadily over the ravine cut out by Parker Brook below.
The trail wanders through bare woods and heads up a shoulder of Pine Mountain.
Much of the trail was very wet and muddy and made footing tough.
 Kaylah and I did a loop up Lulu Brook Trail and back down Honwee Loop Trail as the sun was setting. There was a blend of dry and very muddy sections on this trail as well. By the time we got back to parking lot it was nearly 5pm and almost completely dark.  
Walked a couple of miles in the 40 degree weather and had very wet boots by the end of the day, but felt great getting out into the woods.

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