2016 Summer Project

by Elena and Dmitry

Steep Rock Preserve

Viewing The Clam Shell

We went hiking at Steep Rock Preserve in Washington. We crossed the bridge over the Shepaug River then entered the forest following the yellow trail. The first cache we found was called, “Coyote Ugly” and everything in the cache was scattered on the ground. It was supposed to be neatly tucked away. We put everything that we found back in the cache and put it back where it belonged. On our way back to the trail we saw what looked to be a wolf's den and outside we saw some small animal bones.

We continued on the yellow trail to the lookout to see what is known as the, “Clam Shell”. The views at the top were amazing! The land that is outlined by the river below resembles the shape of a clam. In 1930 the park was donated by the Rossiter family. The fence below is dedicated to a ten year old boy who fell off and died in 1963. The elevation at the top is 780 feet.

As we started to head down to the next cache, we passed a farm along the way. The trail started to become a lot more narrower than before. The name of the cache we were looking for was “FTF 013- Free Bird”. We had to bushwhack about 400 feet to get to the cache. It was very hot out, and we were sweaty from the work. It was high up in a wall of stone, about 20 feet up. We managed to reach it and then headed back to the trail. In this part of the park we found that it was very damp and buggy. There were lots of mosses and mushrooms growing all around.

We headed back the way we came and stopped at the top again to look for the cache named, “Clam Shell Overlook Cache”. We went to the coordinates but there was nothing there! We went back the way we came down the yellow trail and took a left onto the white trail and headed down towards the river. There we walked along the water on a very treacherous trail but very interesting along the water.

We came to some fields that were full of flowers and wild berries! It was very colorful At the end of the trail we found a campsite. We sat at the picnic table and ate lunch. Pepperoni and cheese sticks - our favorite meal on the trail! After lunch we went to find the cache, “Westy’s Cache”. When we found it, the log book was missing. Seems the last person to find it took it home to dry it out but had not brought it back yet. We took a few minutes to play in the river where we found some crawfish claws.

After resting for a few minutes we headed back towards the car. We made our way back along the water on the treacherous trail again, and up the hillbilly staircase. Then onto the yellow trail once more, which brought us back to the bridge that would take us over the river to our car.

After arriving at our car, we went to find one last cache, “Steep Rock Rail Road Tunnel Letterbox Hybrid”. We headed towards the cache and after about 150 feet to the right was a huge train tunnel carved right through the center of a very large rock! It is actually 235 feet long and is big enough for a train to drive through. In 1948 the freight service line stopped and it became a hiking trail. It looked extremely dark inside, almost scary. It’s amazing to think how the Shepaug Valley Railroad were able to blast a hole through the center of a mountain. Next, we found the cache and made our way back to the car and drove home.


Steep Rock Association: http://www.steeprockassoc.org/explore/steep-rock-preserve/

Steep Rock Trail Map: http://www.steeprockassoc.org/dir/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/map_steep_rock.pdf

BerkshireHiking.com: http://berkshirehiking.com/hikes/steep_rock.html

The Mercurial Magazine: http://themercurial.com/trail-report-steep-rock-preserve-washington-depot/

Shepaug, Litchfield and Northern Railroad: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepaug,_Litchfield_and_Northern_Railroad

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SteepRockAssoc

The Institute for American Indian Studies: http://www.onenewengland.com/article.php?id=98

The Paugusset Indians: http://www.shepaug.net/k1qqq/paugussett/index.htm

Brief History of Washington CT: http://www.nynjctbotany.org/lgtofc/washingtonconnhist.html

The Courant: http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-marteka-steep-rock-holiday-house-0719-20150718-column.html