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Ascent of North Preston Hill on 2010-08-13

Climber: Michael Schwartz

Others in Party:Fred Lobdell
Date:Friday, August 13, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:North Preston Hill
    Location:USA-Connecticut
    Elevation:1450 ft / 441 m

Ascent Trip Report

For some time, it was thought that the Hanging Hills was the CT prominence leader. Then this hill, the summit of which is just a few hundred feet east of the NY state line, was discovered. It is unnamed on the topographic map, but it is a mile or so north of Preston Hill in New York, and this website labels it as North Preston. If North Preston is the higher of the two hills, then it is the CT prominence point, but if Preston Hill is higher, then the Hanging Hills is the prominence leader. The summit contours for both hills are quite small.

The Appalachian Trail in this area has been relocated, bringing it closer to North Preston. The AT crosses CT 341 a mile or so northwest of that route's beginning at US 7 in Kent, CT, and a couple of hundred feet northwest of the intersection of CT 341 with Schaghticoke Rd. There is room to park several cars at this trailhead. See the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Web site (www.appalachiantrail.org ) for an interactive page showing the relocated trail plotted on topo and terrain maps.

We hiked the southbound trail for a short distance until we came to Old Barn Road. This woods road shows on the topographic map but is no longer drivable, if it ever was. We followed the road as it provided easier walking than the trail until we got to the Mt. Algo Lean-to, an AT shelter. Here we followed the blue-blazed connector trail back to the AT. From this point the AT rose to pass over the western shoulder of Mt. Algo. We took a few minutes to bushwhack the couple of hundred feet and 30 vertical feet to the summit of Mt. Algo. We then returned to the AT which descended to cross Thayer Brook. Here we found another old woods road which paralleled Thayer Brook on the north side (the left bank) and which made for easy walking as we ascended to the road to Chapel Pond. We turned left on that road toward Chapel Pond and ascended to the height of land before beginning the final bushwhack to the summit of North Preston. At the summit we found several large boulders rising 4 or 5 feet above the ground, on one of which was a small cairn hiding a register placed there in June 2009 by A. Martin. We were the second and third signers of that register. There is no evidence that the summit sees regular visitors -- there was no trash at all.

I visited the summit of Preston Hill a few days after our ascent of North Preston. The summit contour is only about 50 feet in diameter, with bedrock rising two to three feet within the contour. The summit contour on North Preston is about 115 feet in diameter, with a couple of large boulders rising about four feet above the ground, so it would appear that these two peaks are very close in summit elevation. We do not think that it would be possible to sight from one to the other even in the winter, so a rigorous survey would be required to establish which is really higher unless GPS units that accurately depict elevations to a fraction of a foot become available. Absent the certainty that North Preston is higher than Preston (otherwise Preston claims the precedence), both North Preston and the Hanging Hills should be visited to claim Connecticut's prominence point.

B. Packard hiked this summit from where Thayer Brook crosses Schaghticoke Road. We drove down to that point, about 1.5 miles south of the intersection of Schaghticoke Rd. with CT 341. We discovered a woods road roughly paralleling the brook that started about 150 feet north of the brook. I returned a few days later and hiked the road upstream to verify its connection with the road we hiked. This road soon reaches an area of open woods that appears to be an old homestead, and which sees a lot of camping and campfires. From this area, one bears left and uphill and soon picks up the road's continuation. There are also some plastic "arrow" blazes marking the lower reaches of the road. The road crosses Thayer Brook on a wooden footbridge and then ascends steeply, at one point being about 100 feet above the stream. Eventually, it crosses the brook back to the north bank, and reaches the very obvious junction with the AT af ter first passing some AT corridor boundary markers. For North Preston alone, this eliminates the necessity of hiking up Mt. Algo and then descending, then regaining that elevation on the return hike. On the descent the road was hard to follow to the old homestead, and the main road turns some distance south, crossing a large meadow and finally meeting Schaghticoke Rd. about 0.2 miles north of the brook crossing. The dirt road is bermed a few feet in and easily recognized from Schaghticoke Rd. If approaching from Bulls Bridge Road near the covered bridge, it is 2.7 miles north on Schaghticoke Rd. to the Thayer Brook crossing.

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