Classic Connecticut

Falls Village to Salisbury on the Appalachian Trail
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There is so much to see and do on this hike that while the mileage (9.9 overall) suggests that a day hike is feasible, we recommend making it an overnight trip. The setting for the shelter and campsite midhike is extraordinary (and requires special effort to get there). Once at the site, most hikers will want to stay.

Beyond this, both villages (Falls Village on the south end, Salisbury on the north) offer many good reasons to spend at least part of a day in town. This is a historically rich area, with a dramatic landscape traversed by the Appalachian Trail. Come for the weekend, and don't rush through.

Let's begin with the base rock underfoot. We're in the northwest highlands of Connecticut, in what geologists refer to as the Housatonic Highlands Plateau. The plateaus have remained high because their bedrock resists erosion, whereas the bedrock in the valleys below is more vulnerable to erosion. On this hike you will sometimes stunningly beautiful, marble. Marble is indeed a metamorphic rock (which we usually think of as very hard), like schist and Weiss, but in this region it's a softy, being heavily laced with limestone, a softer sedimentary rock made of compressed mud and fragments of marine animal shells. Eons ago this entire area was underwater It's the remnant limestone aspect of marble that dissolves easily even in the relatively minor acidity of rainwater (such acidity has risen dramatically in the past 100 years). Thus it's no accident that the AT shelter site on this hike is called Limestone Spring, and that there's a village just west of the Trail called Lime Rock.

Geologists often call the valleys in this region the"Marble Valley and generally the Housatonic River hereabouts (to about 2 mi. south of Falls Village) has banks and waterfalls of handsomely polished marble. Minor gorges, caves, and various depressions and hollows all are by-products of the easily eroding lime-rich rocks. An aerial view or a broad topographical map shows that this area is dotted with lakes and swamps. But it's the river that offers the first destination of interest on this hike.

From the parking lot at US 7 and CT 112, the AT follows US 7 north over the Housatonic River and immediately angles left past Housatonic Valley Regional High School on Warren Turnpike. This road walk is 0.5 mi., a few minutes. The hike mileage starts at the school (no parking here).

Back across US 7 on the east side is the road up to Music Mountain, the oldest (1930) and one of finest summer chamber music festivals it the U.S. Gordon Hall is an acoustic wonder, worth the detour by car if you have clean duds and $15 to $18 for a ticket. Call (860) 824-7126.

Minutes beyond the school, the blue-blazed Mohawk Trail (the old AT) heads east up Barrack Mt. And just beyond the Mohawk Trail the AT slices right, uphill into the woods (0.2 mi.). After a half mile or so of undulating footpath and a crossing of Warren Turnpike (0.8 mi.), the river reappears and by its banks the wide, soft trail passes beneath many giant pine trees. Northeast Utilities, whose power plant the AT is about to pass, has built a self-guided nature walk (an 0.8 mi. loop) adjacent to the AT and the river here.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication
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