2016 Summer Project

by Elena and Dmitry

The Mattituck Forest

The Search For The Leatherman's Cave

It has been a very exhausting day today. Up and Down Up and Down. Today we went to the Mattituck/Jericho trail and were there for four hours! We came to see the Leatherman's cave. We took lots of photos and found six geo caches while we were there. I found three of the six!

After the car was parked we had to make sure we were on the right trail because there were many of them. Then we realized we had already passed the first cache. So on to find the “Leatherwoman at the crossroads” cache. We left the trail on the right and headed towards ground zero. I stayed at the back as the others kept walking there it was right at my feet next to the base of the rock. Find number one for me!

When we started moving toward our second cache it took us straight up the hill and deeper in the woods. Bushwackin’! It brought us up to a spot high on the edge of a cliff and nothing to be found. There were lots of foliage and it was hard to see. We made our way along the edge until we came to a beautiful lookout spot. It was difficult making our way through the brush and out onto the ledge but when we got there it was a wide open space. You could see all around.

We started our way down but we had to walk around the back through all the mountain laurel to find a way down off the cliff. After we had made it down through a split in the rock we looked back and saw a vertical wall about 250 feet long hidden by trees and brush. We never found this cache so we decided to move on to the next one.

We finally found our way back to a trail. It was very hard to see and follow. It was covered in thick spongy moss. There were lots of giant ferns and large skunk cabbages. Everything was very green. When we found ourselves about 75 feet from the cache our GPS wanted to take us straight into the swamp. We started making our way across the swamp to the next trial. While we were jumping from clump to clump my brother tripped and hit his face on a tree.

As we made our way out of the swamp very carefully we found ourselves back on the original trail we started on. The cache was hanging about 25 feet up in a tree but we had to climb up a big rock to get to it. The cache was named “Leatherman’s Cave”.

The path we walked on has been cut very deep into the ground. It looks like about four feet. This has happened due to erosion and also from this trail being very old. It was used by the indians of the area to travel from Long island Sound to Massachusetts and back. Sort of like an old Indian highway. There was a large boulder in the middle of the trail that used to be covered by 2 feet of dirt. It now blocks the way.

When we came out at the top of the trail we were at another gorgeous lookout point . We could see for miles all around. We took lots of photos of great views of the valley. At some points we could see what we think was route 8. There was also a cache up here that was called “Mattituck-Jericho Junction”. It was our third cache and the second one that I found. It was a cute little mini ammo can.

When it was time for lunch we sat on the top of the cliff and ate apple slices, cheese, and pepperoni. As we ate we talked how nice it was to hike these beautiful places. It was a little bit scary sitting on top of a cliff and it was a little scary to get down.

Next we went into the Leatherman's cave and saw one of his many homes, it was fun going in and taking photos although in some spots it was dark inside. The cave had different rooms in it. One for a kitchen, one for a bedroom, and one for a dining room. There were also some pretty big rocks inside the cave.

I loved going in the cave and looking around. The person who lived here in the late 1800’s was called the Leatherman because the clothes he wore were made from boot leather tops and sewn together. He was from France and became a hobo when he came into misfortune. He lived the end of his life traveling in a 350 mile circle where he would live in different caves along the way.

It was time to say goodbye to the Leatherman’s cave so we headed off for the Jericho trail. Along the way we passed by another few large rocks that were big enough to form a cave. We stopped to have a look. After that it was a slow decline down into the valley.

Next we stopped to pick up our next cache called “On The Way to The Junction”. We had a hard time zeroing in on this one because there seemed to be a lot of bounce going on with the way the rocks were situated. Then when our GPS decided to take us a little further up the hill there is was just hanging out.

It was there in his hands and then it just flew away

We headed on down the trail to the next cache “The River Jericho”. We kept on descending into the valley and along the way a small stream formed. When it got a little bigger we stopped to take a look. There were many mosquitoes and we were getting eaten alive so we decied to move on.

When we arrived at the vicinity of “The River Jericho” we found a nice small waterfall. Our GPS was telling us the cache was right next to the falls in a rock wall. But it was actually on the other side on the falls. It took us a while to find. But since there was lots to see, we stayed and searched until we found it.

Next it was time to start heading back to the car. It took us a little over a half an hour direct walk back. But, before we got to the car we decided to take one last try to find the first cache we missed on the way in the “Leatherwoman Waiting By A Tree”. It was about 75 feet off the trail with a nice view of the road. I found it! It was my third find of the day.

After this we made our way to the car. We were on the road home within 5 minutes. It was a great time!


Mattituck Forest / Trail Map:

ct.gov/Deep Trail Map
ct.gov/State Park

The Leatherman:

GhostVillage legends
His Loop
NPR Radio
Hartford Courant