Sunday, September 12, 2010

Pomperaug Trail, CT (Fiddlehead Preserve - Jackson Cove Park - Kettletown State Park)

Fiddlehead Preserve/Oxford Land Trust
Jackson Cove Park
Kettletown State Park
Pomperaug Trail - part of the Connecticut Blue-Blazed Hiking Trail System

Kettletown State Park - only covers northern half of the hike and map is somewhat outdated
Connecticut Walk Book West - pages 63 through 72; binder book with removable maps, highly recommended

GPS Coordinates: 41.396298,-73.184016

View Larger Map

The parking area for hikers is the gravel section to the right at the end of Fiddlehead Road  This is a no fee parking area.  This hike is also accessible from parking at Kettletown State Park (northern end) and Jackson Cove Park (middle of hike) where seasonal fees apply.

This hike is 12 miles long incorporating all trails but there are many options for shorter hikes.  The Pomperaug Trail is 4.5 miles one way.  This can be combined with any or all side trails along the way - Miller Trail at the northern end in Kettletown State Park (2 miles), Crest Trail (1 mile) at the southern end of Kettletown State Park and the Oxford Loop Trail (0.6 miles) south of Jackson Cove.

Although this is a lovely hike through beautiful woods and forests, it would probably be more enjoyable when the leaves are down and motorboats are put away during off-season.  Out of the 10 vistas shown on the map, only 3 offer up views during full summer foliage.  Lake Zoar allows motorboats and the resulting noise pollution can seriously disrupt an otherwise peaceful hike, especially since most of this hike runs parallel to Lake Zoar.

From the parking area at Fiddletown Road, head straight into the woods to the left of the parking sign through a very short overgrown section.  Once on the other side of the weeds, start to follow the light blue-blazed Pomperaug Trail uphill to the left.  Stay on the Pomperaug Trail for its entire 4.6 miles.  The blazes are faded early on so pay close attention.  Farther along the blazes have been refreshed and are easier to follow.
At 0.6 miles take a short unmarked side trail to the left for a view of Lake Zoar.

At 1.6 miles another blue-blazed trail splits to the left.  This is the Oxford Loop Trail (the return route) which is supposed to be blazed blue/white but is only blazed the same shade of light blue so be sure not to confuse it with the blue-blazed Pomperaug Trail.

At 2.3 miles, after rock hopping over a stream, descent towards Lake Zoar:
The blue-blazed Pomperaug Trail continues to the right through a very short overgrown section emerging at Jackson Cove.  (Facing the water, the blue-blazed trail to the left is the start of the Oxford Loop Trail which will later be the return route.)

Found a baseball cap on the trail mid way between Fiddlehead Road and Jackson Cove.  Brought it along and put it on a post in the Jackson Cove parking lot by the porta potties, in case anyone is looking for it...

Walk straight through Jackson Cove to the continuation of the blue-blazed Pomperaug Trail directly across the paved road where it immediately crosses a bridge:
The trail will skirt along Lake Zoar with some short side trails up to the lake.
Stay on the blue-blazed trail as you pass the northern and southern intersections for the Crest Trail.  Where the previous intersections with the Oxford Loop Trail were not marked with signage, from this point forward all intersections are very well identified.
After the Pomperaug Trail becomes a wide woods road in Kettletown State Park, it comes out at a paved park road, this being the end of the Pomperaug Trail.  Cross straight over the park road to pick up the blue/yellow-blazed Brook Trail which runs to the left between Kettletown Brook and the park road.
Even after a long drought, small waterfalls still running in Kettletown Brook.

At 4.7 miles turn right on the blue/pink Miller Brook Connector Trail. (Maps show this as blue/red or blue/purple, but looks pink to me...)
Cross over a bridge...
 ...and follow the trail along picnic areas and across two paved park roads, turning left on the second paved road.  Head beyond the "One Way" sign then turn right on the blue-blazed Miller Trail.
The blue-blazed Miller Trail is about a 2 mile woods road loop.
After a few steps arrive at the loop where you can go in either direction ending up right back at this spot.  Along the Miller Trail you will see a blue/orange side trail.  This is a short trail which splits into two directions, each one coming out at vista.  With summer foliage, however, there isn't much to see.
Vista from southern blue/orange side trail.

Vista from northern blue/orange side trail.
After finishing the loop, head back along the blue/pink Miller Brook Connector trail crossing back over the bridge, then turning right at the blue/yellow Brook Trail.  This trail crosses the park road and ascends up a series of steps.
At 8.1 miles pass a huge glacial boulder on the right.
Go straight at the intersection on the blue/white Crest Trail.

Watch for a short unmarked side trail at 8.4 miles which brings you to views of the lake and has a nice shady break spot.

At 9.1 miles merge on to the blue-blazed Pomperaug Trail to the right.  Follow this trail back to Jackson Cove at 9.7 miles.  Walk straight through the parking lot parallel to the lake, continuing on the dirt road through the high weeds.
On the other side of the weeds, cross over the log bridge and turn right on the blue-blazed Oxford Loop Trail.  (The blue-blazed Pomperaug Trail that you came in on goes left.)  Follow the Oxford Loop Trail until it joins back up with the blue-blazed Pomperaug Trail at 10.4 miles. Turn right and return to the parking area arriving at 12 miles.


  1. Cool little blog. Thanks

  2. Do recommend a good pair of hiking boots..Lots of rocks, very easy to twist an ankle

    1. Go to a store like REI or Eastern Mountain Sports where they know about hiking shoes and they can help you.