Risley Pond Loop Trail

Risleying Above
Vernon/Bolton, supposedly 2.6 miles

February 16, 2009

rpi.jpgPresident’s Day. And guess what? We need a new mattress. Our bed is a rather excellent modern platform bed from some overpriced modern furniture store and we love it. However, the futon mattress – which is a very good futon mattress as far as futon mattresses go – is beat down. Our bodies have molded deep recesses into it and now a prominent ridgeline separates the two of us at night. Which I hate.

So what better day to buy a mattress than on President’s Day? I was actually going to listen to the all the mattress sale ads and hit some stores in the Manchester mattress store area.

rp.jpgOr so I told Hoang. Ha. Who wants to go mattress shopping? What does that even entail? I drove out to Manchester and instead decided to quickly hike a short loop trail around Risley Pond. The trail, part of the Shenipsit which takes hikers from East Hampton up near the Massachusetts border in Somers, looked to be easy and quick.

Risley Park is owned by the Manchester Land and Conservation Trust, Inc. It was donated in 1983 by Gladys R. Hall and Dorothy R. Miller in memory of their father, John S. Risley. The pond is a secondary source of water for the Manchester Water Company. And it’s not even in Manchester.

rpa.jpgThat pretty much ends the interesting part of this report, for the Risley Pond Loop is rather unexciting. It’s also not 2.6 miles as all the documentation states – there’s just no way. I was in jeans and a sweatshirt with no water and only a bowl of Corn Flakes in my belly; not to mention the trail was icy and dicey over large portions of it – and I somehow completed the loop, with two short detours, in 45 minutes. I’d peg it at just under 2 miles.

Granted, it’s 30% flat, 15% climb, and 55% downhill (going counter-clockwise), but still… I wasn’t exactly running over all that ice and snow. In my jeans.

I’m not sure what to write about here. The trail starts off pleasantly with a nice graded and woodchip covered wide path down towards the lake, crosses an old log bridge and then passes wholly unremarkable terrain for a while. Then it climbs up Box Mountain:

The daunting ascent

There are even stairs

Near the summit, the trail swings south away from the 850 foot top – but I wanted to check it out so I bushwhacked for a couple minutes to a clearing on top. A very tall radio tower stands on the site, apparently owned by an outfit called Marcus Communications which has a very shoddy web presence.


There were no views on top

I got back to the trail and walked down the ridge, such as it was.

The ridge, such as it is

I heard a kerfuffle in the woods and saw several deer running away from me. Moments later, another kerfuffle and a large dog was bounding through the woods at breakneck speed. Great. Nothing better than being eaten alive by wild dogs in Vernon – actually, I had crossed over into Bolton… even better.

I slowly walked onward with an ear to the ground, but the dog, who turned and came up the hill towards me, never seemed to notice me and disappeared. Crisis averted.

I had a nice long gradual descent ahead of me, which I would have quickly run if not for all the ice patches. Oh well, I could admire the winter woods I guess. Oh look! A stone wall.

A patch of ice to navigate.

I hit flatland and soon I was back to the lake. I headed off the trail for a moment to see the dam.


After that, the trail follows closely to the shoreline and crosses many little streams feeding the pond. I’d imagine this is a miserable stretch to walk after everything thaws and a few days of rain. So I was happy to crunch along on top of the frozen mud and pools.

At one point I stopped to take a picture to show the fun I was having:


And noticed that it appears ice fishermen had been out on the pond this winter, as I could see a bunch of drilled holes.

Ice fishing has to be one of the silliest pursuits one can pursue

Soon I was back at the log bridge and walking back up to the parking lot – a rather large parking lot by the way. I passed a family of 5 where the dad was unencumbered by the mom was carrying an infant in a backpack carrier. Um, good luck with that. There were several lengthy sections where I had to steady myself on the ice by holding trees. I don’t think I’d have subjected my infant to that, but they appeared to be a tough lot.


I hopped in the car and yes, went mattress shopping. Really and truly I did. (To no avail.) On the bright side, I picked up lunch for Hoang and myself and it was delicious.


2 responses to “Risley Pond Loop Trail”

  1. Steph says:

    Thank you for your sense of humor in writing this. I appreciate it. It was very light.
    I was actually looking for info. regarding Kayaking and where to put in.
    I guess we will just have to go to the parking lot and find out.
    : 0 )

    ~ Steph

  2. Alan says:

    Reply to Steph,

    Pretty sure the resevoir status puts this out of the reach of kayakers.
    The sign even forbids swimming dogs.
    Enjoy the trail.


Leave a Comment

The Out Campaign: Scarlet Letter of Atheism