Loantaka Brook Reservation is a 744-acre park that straddles Loantaka Brook. This long, narrow park has both paved paths and an unpaved bridle path. The park map indicates that the paved trails are designated by color, but there are no blazes on the trails, and the assigned colors are evident only on occasional plastic wands. All trails in the park are frequented by walkers, joggers and...
Loantaka Brook Reservation is a 744-acre park that straddles Loantaka Brook. This long, narrow park has both paved paths and an unpaved bridle path. The park map indicates that the paved trails are designated by color, but there are no blazes on the trails, and the assigned colors are evident only on occasional plastic wands. All trails in the park are frequented by walkers, joggers and bicyclists, but the paved paths are far more heavily used than the bridle path. The first part of this hike follows the paved bicycle paths, with the return on the bridle path.
To begin the hike, go back to the entrance to the parking area, and turn left (south) onto a paved bicycle path that begins here. Follow this paved path, which goes around a softball field and a grassy expanse and enters the woods. Soon, a paved path on the left leads back to the parking area, but you should continue straight ahead. A short distance beyond, a connecting trail on the left leads to an unpaved bridle path. The bridle path will be your return route, but continue ahead on the paved path, which briefly approaches Loantaka Brook, then continues parallel to a gas pipeline.
In two-thirds of a mile, the paved path reaches a grassy circle. Proceed ahead around the circle, then continue through a parking area, with a softball field and Kitchell Pond on the left. At the end of the parking area, turn left onto Kitchell Road for 125 feet, then turn right (at a blue wand that marks mile 0) onto a paved path that heads into the woods.
The path proceeds south through a pleasant wooded area, crossing Loantaka Brook, the bridle path and several tributary streams. About a mile from Kitchell Road, another paved path crosses, but continue ahead on the path you have been following.
In another 0.2 mile, the path emerges onto the grassy route of a gas pipeline, which it follows to a parking area and a paved road, Loantaka Way. Turn right and head west along the road (you can walk on the grassy shoulder on the south side) for a third of a mile, passing the historic brick Gibbons Horse Barn (built in 1834 and still used for horses).
After crossing the bridge over Loantaka Brook, turn left at a crosswalk and proceed south on the paved path, passing the horse barn on the left and entering the woods. The path briefly approaches Loantaka Brook but soon moves away from it.
In three-fourths of a mile, the path curves left and crosses a bridge over Loantaka Brook. About 300 feet beyond the bridge (and just before a “no horses” sign), leave the paved path and turn left onto a dirt bridle path. You’ve now reached the halfway point and will be returning to the start of the hike on the unpaved bridle path.
The first section of the bridle path is rather narrow and can be somewhat overgrown. In about half a mile, after passing an overgrown field on the right, you’ll begin to closely parallel the brook to the left and soon emerge onto an open grassy area. Just before reaching the horse barn, turn left, cross the brook on a bridge, then turn right and retrace your steps on the paved bicycle trail to Loantaka Way.
Cross the road and, just ahead, bear left at a fork to follow the unpaved bridle path (the paved bicycle trail parallels it to the right). You’ll pass several large residential estates on the left. In half a mile, the paved path turns right and heads east, but you should continue ahead on the unpaved bridle path, which now closely parallels the brook.
After passing more large homes on the left, the bridle path turns right and crosses the brook on rocks (this crossing can be difficult if the water is high). On the opposite side, bear left and head north on a wide dirt path, briefly joining the paved bicycle trail to cross a stream. When you approach Kitchell Road in another quarter mile, bear right and briefly parallel it, then cross the road and continue north, with a large townhome development on the right.
After coming out on the northeast shore of Kitchell Pond, the bridle path briefly joins another paved path. Proceed ahead (do not cross the bridge), but bear left at the next three junctions. The bridle path now closely parallels the winding brook, then crosses it on a wooden bridge. Bear right and continue along the bridle path to its end at a gate by the stables, then bear left across a grassy area to return to the parking area where the hike began.Publication: Submitted by Daniel Chazin on 10/09/2008 updated/verified on 06/08/2014
This nearly level loop hike parallels Loantaka Brook, passing through a pleasant and interesting deciduous forest.
Whether you are going for a day hike or backpacking overnight, it is good practice to carry what we call The Hiking Essentials. These essentials will help you enjoy your outing more and will provide basic safety gear if needed. There may also be more essentials, depending on the season and your needs.
Hiking Shoes or Boots
Water - Two quarts per person is recommended in every season. Keep in mind that fluid loss is heightened in winter as well as summer. Don't put yourself in the position of having to end your hike early because you have run out of water.
Map - Know where you are and where you are going. Many of our hiking areas feature interconnecting network of trails. Use a waterproof/tear-resistant Tyvek Trail Conference map if available or enclose your map in a Ziplock plastic bag. If you have a mobile device, download Avenza’s free PDF Maps app and grab some GPS-enhanced Trail Conference maps (a backup Tyvek or paper version of the map is good to have just in case your batteries die or you don't have service). Check out some map-reading basics here.
Food - Snacks/lunch will keep you going as you burn energy walking or climbing. Nuts, seeds, and chocolate are favorites on the trail.
Sunscreen and insect repellent
Rain Gear and Extra Clothing - Rain happens. So does cold. Be prepared for changing weather. Avoid cotton--it traps water against your skin and is slow to dry. If you are wearing wet cotton and must return to your starting point, you risk getting chills that may lead to a dangerous hypothermia. Choose synthetic shirts, sweaters and/or vests and dress in layers for easy on and off.
Compass - A simple compass is all you need to orient you and your map to magnetic north.
Light - A flashlight or small, lightweight headlamp will be welcome gear if you find yourself still on the trail when darkness falls. Check the batteries before you start out and have extras in your pack.
First Aid Kit - Keep it simple, compact, and weatherproof. Know how to use the basic components.
Firestarter and Matches - In an emergency, you may need to keep yourself or someone else warm until help arrives. A firestarter (this could be as simple as leftover birthday candles that are kept inside a waterproof container) and matches (again, make sure to keep them in a waterproof container) could save a life.
Knife or Multi-tool - You may need to cut a piece of moleskin to put over a blister, repair a piece of broken equipment, or solve some other unexpected problem.
Emergency Numbers - Know the emergency numbers for the area you're going to and realize that in many locations--especially mountainous ones, your phone will not get reception.
Common Sense - Pay attention to your environment, your energy, and the condition of your companions. Has the weather turned rainy? Is daylight fading? Did you drink all your water? Did your companion fail to bring rain gear? Are you getting tired? Keep in mind that until you turn around you are (typically) only half-way to completing your hike--you must still get back to where you started from! (Exceptions are loop hikes.)
Check the weather forecast before you head out. Know the rules and regulations of the area.
The Leave No Trace Seven Principles
- Know the regulations and special concerns for the area you'll visit.
- Prepare for extreme weather, hazards, and emergencies.
- Schedule your trip to avoid times of high use.
- Visit in small groups when possible. Consider splitting larger groups into smaller groups.
- Repackage food to minimize waste.
- Use a map and compass to eliminate the use of marking paint, rock cairns or flagging.
- Durable surfaces include established trails and campsites, rock, gravel, dry grasses or snow.
- Protect riparian areas by camping at least 200 feet from lakes and streams.
- Good campsites are found, not made. Altering a site is not necessary.
- In popular areas:
- Concentrate use on existing trails and campsites.
- Walk single file in the middle of the trail, even when wet or muddy.
- Keep campsites small. Focus activity in areas where vegetation is absent.
- In pristine areas:
- Disperse use to prevent the creation of campsites and trails.
- Avoid places where impacts are just beginning.
- Pack it in, pack it out. Inspect your campsite and rest areas for trash or spilled foods. Pack out all trash, leftover food and litter.
- Deposit solid human waste in catholes dug 6 to 8 inches deep, at least 200 feet from water, camp and trails. Cover and disguise the cathole when finished.
- Pack out toilet paper and hygiene products.
- To wash yourself or your dishes, carry water 200 feet away from streams or lakes and use small amounts of biodegradable soap. Scatter strained dishwater.
- Preserve the past: examine, but do not touch cultural or historic structures and artifacts.
- Leave rocks, plants and other natural objects as you find them.
- Avoid introducing or transporting non-native species.
- Do not build structures, furniture, or dig trenches.
- Campfires can cause lasting impacts to the backcountry. Use a lightweight stove for cooking and enjoy a candle lantern for light.
- Where fires are permitted, use established fire rings, fire pans, or mound fires.
- Keep fires small. Only use sticks from the ground that can be broken by hand.
- Burn all wood and coals to ash, put out campfires completely, then scatter cool ashes.
- Observe wildlife from a distance. Do not follow or approach them.
- Never feed animals. Feeding wildlife damages their health, alters natural behaviors, and exposes them to predators and other dangers.
- Protect wildlife and your food by storing rations and trash securely.
- Control pets at all times, or leave them at home.
- Avoid wildlife during sensitive times: mating, nesting, raising young, or winter.
- Respect other visitors and protect the quality of their experience.
- Be courteous. Yield to other users on the trail.
- Step to the downhill side of the trail when encountering pack stock.
- Take breaks and camp away from trails and other visitors.
- Let nature's sounds prevail. Avoid loud voices and noises.
The Trail Conference is a 2015 Leave No Trace partner.
(c) Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics: www.LNT.org.