This was my first hike of 2014. When I arrived at the parking area at 12:20 PM, it was sunny and 57 degrees. When I finished the hike the temperature was up to 62 degrees. It was beautiful weather for hiking.
I took the white trail to the pink trail to the top of Lookout Mtn (744') which has beautiful views of Hartford CT and Manchester CT. I had lunch here enjoying the view. A bearded hiker came up and talked to me while I was on the summit. He said he was doing a long loop today because the weather was so nice.
My plan was to take the yellow trail to the B/Y trail to Case Mountain. The yellow trail was very beautiful and scenic. I missed the turnoff and went on a long loop south towards Birch Mtn. When I got to the lower B/Y trail I turned north again. The trail descended to a large vernal pond with clacking frogs. It didn't go up to the top of Birch Mtn (786'). I bushwhacked up to the viewless summit and noticed that Birch Mtn is a long north-south ridge with a depression in the middle. I was on the north peak and it wasn't clear if the south peak was or was not higher.
I then bushwhacked back down and proceeded north towards Case Mtn. However the B/Y trail north seemed to be going down quite a lot which is not what I wanted. I decided to go south instead and see if the southern part of Birch Mtn is really the highest point. The B/Y trail met the Shenipsit trail and went right over the southern high point of Birch Mtn. I decided that the two peaks were virtually identical in elevation. The Shenipsit trail then swerved off to the west without going over the north peak where I had bushwhacked before. I took this to the yellow trail and then back up to Lookout Mtn. Going back, I took a wrong turn at a flooded spot in the pink trail and ended up on the Highland trail going south. Eventually I figured this out and returned to the correct trail. I was back at the car at 3:20 PM.
Many of the trails have the same color for a meandering loop which is confusing because knowing the color of the blazes will not help you if you aren't sure where you are in the loop. Overall this is a great place to hike and parts of it seem like wilderness even though it is close to Hartford.