Menunkatuck Trail End-to-End Run

The Menunkatuck Trail isn’t nearly as hard as it seemed. Yesterday, we returned to Guilford to exorcise some demons. Two weeks ago when we ran/hiked the New England Trail (NET), we struggled to the finish with a grueling final 17 miles.

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The Menunkatuck is the final section of the NET and June 22nd (and 23rd), it took us more than six hours to complete the section from Route 77 (including the final bit of the Mattabessett Trail) to Long Island Sound (Chittenden Park). Yesterday, it look us less than half that time.

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Debbie and I were joined by Laura Becker and we ran it at a much quicker pace. We met at Chittenden Park, locked our bikes to a post, drove to the trailhead on 77, ran to our bikes, and then rode back. It was a fun round trip.

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Our time wasn’t anywhere close to FKT speed, but we still had fun. It was a lot more fun than the finish of our NET adventure. It was great to see the trail in daylight. It is actually a beautiful trail. I didn’t curse at all. Our wrong terms were minor compared to the slew of mistakes we made at the end of the NET trip.

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The weather was excellent. It was humid in the morning, but the haze burned off and by late morning, it was sunny and hot. Kudos to the FKT holders who have laid down super-fast times on this trail. The entire trail is runable and there are several dirt roads sections that are very runable. I felt OK, but not great. I’ve still got a bit of deep fatigue from the NET trip and my right leg is hurting in several places (Achilles, IT band, gluteus,  quad, etc.) I’ve got a leg length discrepancy that results in my right leg taking more abuse  when I run. Over the course of 5.5 days, I must have hit it  harder on many occasions (like every stride) and its going to take some time to get feel better and maybe even longer to get some speed back.

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The last four miles are on road through the lovely shoreline roads of Guilford south of Route 1. It was so nice to feel decent at the finish. The end of our NET adventure was ugly. It wasn’t anything like what we expected. It was dark, we were wrecked at the end, and there was no fanfare. It was past midnight and there was no chance of swimming in the Sound. We didn’t swim yesterday, but that’s OK because we had lovely views. The ride back to the trailhead was on some really nice roads that paralleled 77. It was great to run with  Laura (again). She is really strong, upbeat, and always ready for an adventure. I expect there will be more in the coming weeks.

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The Menunkatuck is yet another gem in the Connecticut Forest & Park Association’s Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System. If you are interested, here is the full description from the CFPA Walk Book:

The Menunkatuck Trail, named for the first human inhabitants of this region, represents the southernmost segment of the New England Trail, connecting the Mattabessett Trail with Long Island Sound in the town of Guilford.  The trail leaves the Mattabessett 1.3 miles east of Route 77 and heads south over land owned by the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority, two town preserves, and various properties of the Guilford Land Conservation Trust, before emerging onto secondary roads and reaching the shoreline at Chittenden Park. Chittenden Park is the official Southern Gateway of the New England Trail and the Park features a boardwalk and overlook platform on Long Island Sound.

The terrain of the Menunkatuck Trail is rolling, with little to no steep climbing, and consists of rocky wooded ridges, inland wetlands, scenic meadows, and residential areas.  Notable features include Timberland Preserve’s Upper Lake and the beautiful haying fields of East River Preserve.  The Menunkatuck also has the distinction of being the only CFPA trail to pass directly through a train station! (Note that this time we took the stairs. Too weeks ago, we took the elevator both up and down and the photo from the blog post is from inside the elevator!)

The Menunkatuck Trail is part of the 215 mile New England National Scenic Trail (NET). The NET was designated as a national scenic trail in 2009 and connects from the Long Island Sound to the MA/NH border. The NET is comprised of the Menunkatuck, Mattabesett, Metacomet and Metacomet-Monadnock Trails. A detailed resource for hikers is the NET Map & Guide. For more info about the NET, click here


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