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Trip reports for this high point are confusing and elicit varying degrees of paranoia.

The high point sits in Union, CT, which is the least-populated community in the state. Roughly 660 people live in this rural, hilly town. I-84 bisects it on the way to the Massachusetts line, and we began our journey by taking exit 73 and hopping on CT-190 westbound. From there, we drove north on Stickney Hill road until we reached a four-way intersection in Massachusetts, taking a left onto New City road. Sears Road, which leads you to the highpoint access paths, is a short distance down New City Road after you cross back into Connecticut.

It should be noted that the highpoint and access roads are privately owned by a Mr. Bradway, whose home is on George Heck Road just south of the hill (and accessible via Stickney Hill Road). I located his phone number on www.summitpost.com and called. A pleasant woman on the line gave us permission to drive up Sears road past the forbidding and humorously poetic no-trespassing marker. If you plan to access this highpoint, DO call ahead and ask for permission. It will likely be granted, and I’m certain that the owners appreciate the gesture. Once you’ve recieved permission, you won’t feel so bad about proceeding past the point of death and climbing the tricky road to the tower. Pass the white house (owned by the Bradways’ grand-daughter) and continue past the gate and sign, up the hill, and take a right where the sign indicates “Tower.”

We parked at the base of the tower, just north of the storied snowmobile trail, and I turned on my shiny new GPS reciever. I had marked a waypoint for the Burley Hill summit based on the topographic maps found at various websites, so I followed the compass due south for about two-tenths of a mile, stepping into the large field to the west when the brush got too annoying. Thorns dot the landscape as you follow the ridgeline, so an easy (though tick-infested) detour involves running perpendicular to the ridge and entering the field, and then following the eastern perimeter of the field to the south-east corner. The land rose markedly at the corner, and from this point our target was about .11 miles south-southeast. It’s an easy bushwhack from the field to a series of three large boulders.

These boulders are refered to as “frog rocks” on several trip reports located at www.cohp.org, and have been mistaken for the actual summit in many of them. Apparently, a BM marking the summit of Burley Hill at 1308 feet. Alas, neither Kim nor myself located said BM. This turned out not to be a blow to our quest, since the reports on that site (and the BM itself) don’t mark the summit. From the second of the “frog rocks” I noted on my GPS that the waypoint I had marked was still some 300 feet to the southeast, and while the trees obscured it, I could see a larger ridge in that direction. Making a mad dash through the woods, I found a large rocky ridge rising unmistakably to a level exceeding that of the three boulders. THIS is the high point, NOT the boulders mentioned in the other trip reports. I stamped around and claimed it. Interestingly, the point I marked on my GPS was off by only about ten feet. The exact coordinates of the highpoint (accurate to about 10 feet) are: N42 01.004 W72 12.528. Interestingly, the BM is located at 1308 feet, and most reports (and several sites) list the elevation of Burley Hill based on the three frog rocks, at 1315 feet. Standing on the summit ridge, my GPS read an elevation of 1333 feet. I would be interested in knowing if anyone else achieved this elevation.

(Here is another shot of the ridge from the southeast. The hill drops quickly once you pass this rock.)

On the way back to the car we bushwhacked north from the summit, passing a new amphibious friend, Mortimer, who told us that the path directly north was thorny and gross, whereas going back to the field and backtracking would be an easier road.

N.B.: Check for ticks. I had none, but Kim had a deer tick. The tall grass is particularly dangerous.

GATES HILL REVISITED

As part of the same trek, Kim and I revisted Gates Hill, the New London County highpoint. As previously reported in my post on the subject, the summit of Gates Hill is a cemetery situated between two radio towers, and the flatness of the land makes divining the actual high point almost impossible. I re-entered the cemetery and tooled around with my GPS. The COHP website lists the elevation of the highpoint as 660 feet, but this may not be accurate. I returned to the spot behind the cemetery, a small “hill” which is more of a dirt pile than anything else, next to a large treestump. My GPS read ~680 feet. Going toward the more northerly of the towers, I found that the elevation rose a little, to about ~684-687 feet at the near corner of the right-hand building, just outside the gate and next to an anchor. My GPS read “Accurate within 15 feet” at this point. I scouted around but could find no higher areas, even by following the stone wall for a few yards; the hill definitely begins to slope downward past these points, and so while not necessarily obvious, I think that anyone stepping on these points satisfies the requisites for the highpoint.

New Stats: 8 COHPs and 2 SHiPs.

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