Knowing that yesterday was going to be the last day with fall-like weather, my husband and I decided to make the most of it and try out the trails in the Deerfield Wilderness Park. I went there for a Rugby tournament a month ago, but the weather cut short my intentions to hike. The park is located way up Walker Road and the easiest way to access it is off Rt. 8 North. Take Davis Road over to Walker Road, a right on Walker and the park entrance is just after the municipal building. The park itself boasts 3 playing fields, a playground area, large pavilion w/electric and bathrooms-though they were not open when we were there. A map of the trails is located on a post just after you turn into the driveway.
We followed the sign that said "Wilderness Trails" and found the trailhead in the back, lower-left corner of the field to the right of the sign. It is marked with square, yellow blocks of wood. Immediately after entering the woods you feel as if you are far from civilization. The trees are fairly young growth therefore close together; and the majority are hardwood allowing the sun to work its way through their bare branches. We noticed immediately that the yellow trail markers are not very closely spaced, but the trail is wide and it was easy to see where a path had been cut. (In fact, re-marking the trail and clearing downed branches would be an excellent boy/girl scout project!) The path rolls up and down over small and large hills, by creeks and through fields and open areas at the top of the ridge. The lower portion has benches to encourage meditation and renewal by a babbling brook. We saw some very old trees at the top of the ridge. One was now only a hollowed out stump, but a person -maybe two- would fit inside! I'm sure it saw both American Indian encampments and European settlers in the surrounding landscape in its lifetime.
We found the portion of the trail with snowmobile access to be quite easy to follow as it was very wide and had maps at each intersection. That trail had some good hills for those who want more of a workout. The other trail was a little easier and had large sections on a cinder path that went around the main playground. There were many deer tracks and canine tracks - dog or coyote we couldn't tell -and we wondered if we might encounter that second wild boar that was seen in Utica a couple weeks ago. The abundance of old apple trees would provide perfect forage. Chickadees could be heard following us along the way and a flicker was seen scooting off into the woods ahead of us.
We guesstimated that there are at least 2 miles of trails and with the variety of terrain the Wilderness Park can give you a good workout if you set a brisk pace and do the whole system. Thanks to Deerfield for setting aside such a wonderful area!