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Begins: Jul 24, 2018
Date: Wed, Aug 8th, 2018
Start: Mt. Monadnock
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 229.0
Entry Visits: 3,427
Journal Visits: 7,436
Guestbook Views: 55
Guestbook Entrys: 1
Planning Notes For Future Hikers
[2021 Update! Surprisingly a fair bit has changed since I hiked the NET.
There is a Guthook app now, what the hell. Also, the Association actually
has a decent website now with decent information for hikers and thru-hikers.
That's about all I know, I'm sure there are other changes to my info below
but I'm not super tuned into what's going on with the NET]
I'd recommend the NET. It wasn't epic but it was a pretty good hike through
a very urbanized Connecticut and Massachusetts. If you are looking for
something stellar then look elsewhere but if you are looking for something
different, random, maybe shorter, maybe close to home, then the NET ain't
I'm not exactly sure what qualifies as a National Scenic Trail and I'm not
really sure why the NET is one. It's basically a lower and less stellar
version of the very nearby Appalachian Trail. I'm not sure we really need
another National Scenic Trail just like the AT. That's not to say the NET
shouldn't be a trail. Maybe a National Recreation Trail? It's good to
protect this corridor in a heavily urbanized area but it seems a stretch to
call the NET a NST when I think of the NSTs as the best of the best. Of
course the Natchez Trace is a NST and it's basically a 500 mile road walk
and the Potomac Heritage is a NST and it's mostly a rail trail. So maybe I
don't understand what a NST is supposed to be. But anyway, I digress. I had
a very enjoyable little hike and while it might be physically demanding if
you are coming off the couch, logistically it's super easy and a nice hike.
*Trail Types / Navigation*
The NET is substantially single track (the majority) or old closed logging
road. There is the occasional paved road walk but these are short and
probably less than 10% in total. From the start till the middle of
Massachusetts you are generally following a long north/south ridge line and
popping over "mountains" here and there. The high point of the entire trail
is 1,600'. Generally I was between like 400'-800'. There can be a lot of
rugged little ups and downs at times. The northern half of Massachusetts
you drop off the ridgeline and are more in the valleys but average around
1,000' in elevation and do longer but more well graded climbs.
The trail is generally exceptionally well blazes. Blue Blazes in
Connecticut. White Blazes in Massachusetts. Connecticut was better blazed
than Massachusetts but both were fine overall. Not as good as the
Appalachian Trail but good enough. The trail was also pretty well
maintained. Again, not as good as the Appalachian Trail but plenty good.
I don't really know. I guess Spring through Fall. My little summer hike was
terribly hot and humid. I'd imagine the Fall colors would be nice. You
could probably do it in the winter if that was your thing.
*Direction of Travel*
I can't think of a reason this would matter. I guess northern Massachusetts
is more remote with less resupply. Otherwise either way seems fine to me.
I had some mosquitoes that were not always great but never horrible. No
ticks for me. I hear the deer flies can be horrible at times. I imagine all
this depends on your timing.
I saw 2 small bears. Occasional deer and turkey. That's about it.
There seems to be a myth that it's impossible to legally camp on the NET. I
had no problems at all. I think the issue is that while you walk through a
lot of public land, much of it is Water Authority land. Also conservation
areas and state parks. Almost all of these don't allow camping. I won't
camp on private land, don't want to be the guy who ruins an easement for
everyone, but these Water lands and state parks are basically public lands
and I have no problem discreetly camping. No fires. Be discreet. Don't be
an ass. I never had a problem. The trail does walk through some private
land. In Connecticut I never saw private property signs so I'm not even
sure when I was on private property. There were more signs in Massachusetts
making it easier to avoid camping on private property.
Very easy until a little ways into Massachusetts and then not much more.
But there's not much to go at that point so not a huge deal. Here's my
reapply summary: (South to North, mile markers relate to data book)
1-3: Walk through Guilford. Everything including Walmart.
21.3: Conv store with deli and inside seating a minute to the left.
Restaurant/bar a couple minutes to the right.
32.7: Guida's restaurant on trail. 1.5 miles west is East Meriden with
everything. Be warned the road in looks very busy.
47.3: Nearby small motel, Subway, pizza place, gas station with Dunkin
Donuts and pizza place. Also, 1/2 mile to the right is an Aldi grocery.
This is a busy road with lots of services spread out and the town of Berlin
2 miles north.
52.3: Less than a mile south on Hwy 71 is a Target, food, etc. Further on
is the town.
66.9: Farm store, I walked by very early so was not able to check it out.
70.8: Dunkin Donuts, liquor store with some groceries, Stop and Shop gas
station with some groceries, Marriot on road walk. To the east under a mile
is New Britain with everything. At 71.6 you turn onto trail. Continuing
west 0.5 mile on road is a McDonald's, Big Y grocery, movie theater and
several big box stores. There is a local bus system if you wanted to get
deeper into the towns without walking.
94.7: Tiny Tarrifville. There is a liquor store and 2 restaurants. The
Cracker Barrel Pub had pretty high end bar food and was good. No grocery or
99.1: East Granby less than a mile east. Grocery, restaurants.
108.7: 0.5 off, Farm store with grill per data book. I did not visit.
112.8: Restaurant on trail. A mile to the west is a Walmart. There's also a
bus stop right where the trail crosses the road which will take you to a
lot more stuff including West/Springfield.
131.8: If you catch the 10 mile ride around the Connecticut river then you
will pass through multiple towns for resupply.
148.6: At the Hwy 9 crossing it appears there is a gas station mini mart
0.7 mile north. I did not visit. There's also a PVTA bus stop here.
179.4: Erving 2.4 m east, small store with deli/pizza. Busy road, probably
a tough hitch and dangerous to walk with minimal to no shoulder.
The NETs website has practically no helpful information for a thru hiker.
Same for the Facebook page. The AMC sells a 2 map set I got on Amazon for
like $ 11. These were worth having. They are non topographic and too high
level to navigate but good to have and follow along. Thankfully a random
past thru hiker has done the NETs job for them. Nick created an amazing
data book with elevation profile as well as a GPS track with several
hundred waypoints. These were just about spot on.
This was all I needed. Easy as can be. Here are some updates and notes to
17.6 Semi-Major reroute. Instead of heading steeply up the bluffs there is
a new permanently blazed reroute with good trail that heads southwest and
then swings around and climbs more gently northeast and rejoins around the
Bluff Head waypoint. It took me 20 minutes from the road to the waypoint.
51.6 - 52.0: Minor reroute. The trail is routed off the little road onto
trail just to the west. Rejoins at 52.0.
112.7: Westfield River. I can't believe there is no warning on the map,
this is a possibly serious ford. This river is wide and no joke. I forded
on July 30, it hadn't rained in several days and it was still a bit over my
waist. There was also a decent current in the middle that was deceivingly
strong-ish. It's possible that where the trail first went down to the river
would be a better spot. It looked like ripples all the way across meaning
maybe shallower rocks across. Just be careful and don't cross if it looks
dangerous. It's wide and deep enough that you could get in trouble.
120.6: Very end of McLean Reservoir. Good water in a long dry stretch.
125.5: Easy access to Whiting Reservoir
131.8: Trail dead ends at the Connecticut river! If you don't have a
friend/family member driving you to the other side then it's 10 miles
around. I took an Uber, there are lots of drivers in the area. I stopped in
Northampton on the way which is a decent size town with everything. There
is also a boat launch where the trail dead ends and you could wait around
and maybe get lucky and ask for a ride across but I wanted to got to town
and resupply anyways so I didn't try that. It's a somewhat popular spot
although no boats were there for the half hour I was here. This would also
be a good spot to hang around and ask for a ride around if you want. The
road has tons of traffic and probably not a super easy hitch as no one
knows what you are doing.
138.4: The outside outlet at the visitor center was not working. There's
also a PVTA bus stop here.
207.1: I'd highly recommend continuing the additional 20 miles into New
Hampshire and to the summit of Monadnock. It's a stellar alpine mountain
and I don't know why not the actual end of the NET. I guess New Hampshire
didn't want the NET. The 20 miles are white blazed and just the
continuation of the M+M trails. Around mile 11 you walk through Troy with a
little grocery with deli/pizza and next door a Thai Place. There is more
0.5 mile up the road. There's plenty of water the whole way.
I have AT&T and had cell coverage for like 95%+ of the trail. Not
a day went by I didn't have coverage. Lower elevations in Northern
Massachusetts I didn't have reception for short bits, that's about it.
I basically saw nobody except day hikers climbing to the various mountain
views and lookouts. There are a few trail registers and I noticed one thru
hiker in June and one who left 6 days before me. I never saw anyone.
The data book was just about spot on for water for me. Nick hiked in
September and I hiked in August. Many of the creeks were tiny but flowing
and fine to drink. There are a few longer stretches without water when up
on the ridges, but overall water was not an issue at all.
*Getting to the Start/Finish*
Getting to the southern start is super easy. You could fly into NYC or
Hartford and then there are public trains/buses all the time to Guilford.
The trail starts just a half mile south on Long Island Sound.
The northern end is more remote. You'd have to hitch to a nearby town. At
the official end you could hitch 20 miles to Brattleboro where the
Greyhound comes through or a car rental. If you finish on Monadnock then
you could hike down the mountain to the main visitor center parking lot and
ask for a ride 16 miles to Keene where the Greyhound comes through. The
mountain is hiked by a ton of people and I would think getting a ride
wouldn't be too hard.
If you've made it this far and have any questions feel free to email me:
New England National Scenic Trail
The New England National Scenic Trail (NET) is a 215-mile hiking trail route that has been in existence for over half a century. The NET travels through 41 communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts, and is comprised primarily of the historic Mattabesett, Metacomet, and Monadnock (M-M-M) Trail systems. Learn more: www.newenglandtrail.org
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