Upper Bill Ballard — Norwich “Grand Canyon” [Sat. 2/29/2020]
Foot-travel only: Snowshoes and/or micro-spikes recommended for winter travel.
Reward: The Norwich “Grand Canyon”, so named by Bill Ballard with tongue in cheek, is really a pretty series of cascades adjacent to the trail as it turns uphill; expect to see ice formations in winter. Along the way there is a steep drop-off to Charles Brown Brook, as one passes among different varieties of tree stands in the town’s forest.
Trailhead: From Dan & Whit’s drive 2.8 miles on Beaver Meadow Rd. Look for small sign on right with a number “5”, marking entrance to Parcel 5 trailhead, with ample parking.
Route: Cross Beaver Meadow Rd to the Brown Schoolhouse trailhead. Carefully cross Charles Brown Brook, then head uphill to the junction with the Bill Ballard Tr. Turn right and walk about 45 minutes to where the trail crosses a brook on stones. Turn left, ascending a small rib with the “canyon” on the left, filled with its cascades of ice in winter. Return by the same route.
Time: Allow two hours for the basic out-and-back route.
Optional extension: A nice extension is to continue beyond the Grand Canyon, to the upper trailhead parking on Beaver Meadow Rd. Tour participants did choose this extended route, and added the option to loop around the Converse Trail with its pleasant views as it follows the edge of expansive fields above. (The blowdowns encountered will be removed in the Spring.)