Tolland County High Point Trip Report

Burley Hill (1,315 ft)

Date: June 30, 2002
Author: Dan Case

If coming from Hartford or points to the west, get off I-84 at Exit 70 (CT 32). Take 32 north to Stafford Springs and turn east (right) on CT 190 at the circle in the middle of town. Within a quarter-mile, CT 19 runs north (left) to Staffordville. Take it. After about four miles you will know you are in Staffordville by the standard-issue New England white clapboard church, this one belonging to Staffordville Congregational. The road winds on past the south end of the reservoir, after which New City is the right fork (it's hard to easily ID roads around here because they're on the same sort of vertical signs as the area around the Hartford County HP). As Mike Schwartz noted, it's a good three miles out to Sears.

I saw the tower and the sign with the same quatrain, strongly implying death by rifle to trespassers, referred to by some previous visitors. Considering it and Bob Schwab's successful efforts to locate Mr. Bradway, the landowner, I sought permission. I had to go all the way to his house. To get to George Heck Road, you must go back to New City and turn right. Follow it into Massachusetts, where the road gets a little worse, to a four-way intersection about a mile or so from the state line. Turn right on what has no name but must later become Stickney Hill Road. You go back into Connecticut after slightly more than a mile. A further mile and a half from the state line, George Heck Road leaves on the right (the first signed street after it, in fact).

Mr. Wesley Bradway's home at No. 49 is the second big barn on the right, about 0.75 mile down, with a splendid view back to the hill. He greeted me at the door with one of those stereotypical "Ayuh"-type New England greetings whose exact parsing into Standard English I don't know, but he didn't object when I said I was doing fine. (Needless to say, he does look the Yankee farmer part, too. His family is real, real big in this area, judging from the signs and the phone book listings.) He gave me permission to cross his fields without a problem. I explained why, and he mentioned that his nephew in Colorado is working on the 14ers, too. Then it was back several miles into MA and back again to the access road Schwab used, currently blocked by a cable instead of a chain.

It starts out pretty level, quickly turning north and running back 0.3 miles or so to the fields. Then, at this time of year, the challenge began. He isn't working these fields this year, so they're lying fallow and overgrown. It's easy to follow a vague ATV trail up the south side of the first field. However, once it reached the higher field there was no corresponding track (well, at least I didn't see it and perhaps summit fever blinded me). The only choice was to follow Schwab's advice and just bull through the field to the far corner. Please note that this is not a tiny meadow we're talking about here. Crossing it this way entails about 150 yards of potential exposure (if wearing shorts, as I was) to field grit and deer ticks (I only found one of the regular kind and, two days later no bullseye rashes have showed up on my legs. But I still feel more lucky than good, especially since on the way down we made completely the wrong choices and basically just cut across both fields). Needless to say this would be much easier in cooler weather.

On the far side, one once again picks up an ATV track, perhaps the same referenced in other reports as the "snowmobile trail" used to access the summit from the fire tower. Follow this to the farthest corner of the field. This is where the faint trace to the south-southeast begins. In my experience, it peters out after several hundred feet, but this is enough to put you within striking distance of the summit. You can see higher ground ahead, and working your way up the very gentle grade at this point you come to the three summit boulders, sitting there like giant grey frogs.

To be fair I really should have gone on all three, but the one closest to me seemed like the highest to my eyeballs. I didn't find any BM or reference markers, so given my schedule, situation and the effort I'd taken to get up here it was good enough for me.