2018 Mohawk Trail/Appalachian Trail Loop Adventure

On a scorching hot and humid day, Debbie returned to the Mohawk Trail/Appalachian Trail Loop to finish the job we couldn’t get done in 2017. The difference this time was that she didn’t have me along to hold her back. She did say that it would have been nice for me to have come to clear the trail of spider webs like I normally do. This time, she was on her own!


She completed the 36 miles in 9 hours and 38 minutes. The loop has about 8,100 feet of ascent and 8,050 feet of descent depending on which GPS you are wearing. The point is that it is a lot…for Connecticut. The Mohawk Trail is as rugged as it gets. Last year, we saw no one on the trail. She reported that this year was no different. She never saw a person until she reached the Appalachian Trail, which is heavily traveled and in much better shape.



We did read that our friends at the Connecticut Forest & Park Association sent the summer trail crew to Cornwall Bridge last week. They completed a bridge extension across Furnace Brook on the Mohawk Trail in Cornwall. I’m going to arrange for them to go back and do some “brushing” on the trail.


The Mohawk Trail is overgrown with lots of blowdowns. The blue blazes can be hard to follow in some spots. It is full of rocks and roots (which won’t change). She had lots of scratches on her legs from the overgrowth.


I guess you could say this was a successful FKT (Fastest Known Time) attempt, but there was no female entry on the discussion board, so it was a simple attempt to just finish it and get in training miles for the upcoming Vermont 100K.


I’m sure this loop has been done many times over the years and some folks may not know or care about FKT’s, but it looks like the male entry on the discussion board by Scott Gregor, appeared a month after our failed attempt in 2017. This is his Strava file for the run. We completed a “loop,” but we bailed on the last section of trail  and ran up the road to where our car was parked at Mohawk State Forest. We were running out of time and had to pick up our kids at my in-laws, but chances are I would still be lost in the dark if we continued on.


Debbie chose to do this primarily to prepare for the upcoming 100K in three weeks, so she didn’t destroy herself. If it was cooler and the trail was less overgrown (maybe she will try again in the fall, or next spring before everything sprouts), then I’m sure she could go quicker. When I fully heal, I would love to go with her again. Of course, then her effort wouldn’t be solo, and not a “true” FKT.


This time, she parked at Cornwall Bridge, where we originally planned to park in 2017, and it turned out to be a better spot. She started there and did the section we missed first, going in a counter-clockwise loop. She got that rugged section done right away. Just like 2017, yesterday was the warmest day of the year. Once again, she stopped at Mountainside Cafe, which is conveniently located off the trail. It’s nearly at the northern intersection with the AT. Last year, despite the cafe stop, we were short on water at several points during the run. This year, she dropped water at Mohawk State Forest, which was a good decision. She refilled there and then again at the cafe, and had enough to get to the finish. Last year, a water drop or two would have made a big difference for us.


I worked in the morning at Horst Engineering‘s Burnham Street plant, but when the shift ended at noon, I changed up into my cycling kit. Then I rode my bike from East Hartford to Cornwall Bridge with the idea of meeting her at the trailhead and seeing her finish. She was hoping to do it in nine hours or less, but it turned out to be a bit longer. She messaged me a few times, so I knew of her progress. I took a winding route on some of the most beautiful roads in Connecticut.


I crossed the Connecticut River in South Windsor. I rode past Penwood State Park, through Simsbury and into New Hartford. I rode around the bottom of Barkhamsted Reservoir and then rode between People’s State Forest and American Legion State Forest on the Farmington River. I cut through Riverton and then rode northwest to Norfolk. From there I cut south and skirted past Dennis Hill State Park and John A. Minetto State Park. I took a beautiful diversion on Hodges Hill Road, University Drive, John Brown Road, and Pothier Road. John Brown was an abolitionist and there is a cool historic marker at the site of his former home. I stopped for a photo. I only snapped a few photos during the ride, but this felt like a good spot for one.


I hit Route 4, but then took another diversion on Route 63 and then back to Route 4 via West Side Road and Bartholomew Hill. That was a hard finish. From there, it was back to Route 4 for the final (mostly downhill) five miles. That last descent was the last ascent in 2017 when we bailed on the last part of the Mohawk and took the road instead. I traversed it much faster on my bike!


Debbie slowed a bit at the end of her run, and I made it to the trailhead about 25 minutes before she did. I spent the time sweating and swatting flies. My ride was just shy of 75 miles and I felt pretty good despite the heat. I had stopped once to refill all my water bottles at a convenience store, but otherwise kept moving and covered the distance in 4 hours and 55 minutes. I used my Seven Axiom SL super-commuter and had my Dill Pickle handlebar bag jammed with a shirt and shorts to change into. I strapped my Crocs to the rear rack.


She arrived and I shot a short video and snapped a few photos. She was beat, but happy. She didn’t go too deep into he pain cave since she has to recover for Vermont, which will be a different kind of race, with a lot more dirt road running. She ran the full 100 miler in 2012, but opted to do the 100K this year as a change of pace. Also, we think she has the opportunity to be the first person to finish the Vermont 100 Mile, Vermont 50 Mile, Vermont 50K, Vermont 50 Mile (on a mountain bike), and the Vermont 100K. All that would remain is the horse race version of the Vermont 100, and I wouldn’t doubt her if she decides to learn how to ride so that she can do this too.


After her finish, we refueled and then drove down into the village along the Housatonic River so that we could go for a dip and watch off the grime. After our quick change, we drove back up the hill to Mohawk State Forest to retrieve the empty bottles that she left behind. From there, we drove to Flora Plant Food + Drink in West Hartford Center for a vegan date night meal. I celebrated with a beer and the food was great. Afterwards, we crossed the street to pick up some groceries at Whole Foods and test out our new expanded Amazon Prime discount app bar code. I botched it, but customer service reimbursed us.


She remarked that it’s amazing how a day can go by so quickly when you fill it with all of this activity. I agreed.

5 Responses to “2018 Mohawk Trail/Appalachian Trail Loop Adventure”

  1. 1 Peter LaGoy 3 July 2018 at 9:54 am

    Nice adventure! New Hartford is my old stomping grounds; fun to see the pictures of Riverton and the Barkhamsted Reservoir.

  1. 1 2018 Vermont 100 Mile Endurance Race | Life Adventures Trackback on 22 July 2018 at 11:15 pm
  2. 2 Nipmuck Trail End-to-End Run | Life Adventures Trackback on 25 April 2020 at 10:29 pm
  3. 3 Fastest Known Time (FKT) | Life Adventures Trackback on 9 May 2020 at 1:22 pm
  4. 4 Appalachian Trail (a Connecticut Story) | Life Adventures Trackback on 19 July 2020 at 12:09 pm

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