Ridgefield quadruples parking at Pine Mountain trail once used by Revolutionary War soldiers

A view from Pine Mountain (1,391 feet).
A view from Pine Mountain (1,391 feet).Rob McWilliams / For Hearst Conencticut Media

RIDGEFIELD — Those wanting to take a hike on the demanding Pine Mountain trail in town may have previously had just as challenging a time finding a place to park at the entrance.

But that has changed since Ridgefield's highway department quadrupled the number of parking spots —  expanding the parking area from three places to a lot that fits about 12 cars.

"Ridgefield has so many great places to hike, trail run and mountain bike," said Geoffrey Morris, a Ridgefield resident and member of the Economic & Community Development Commission. "Anything that brings these trails to people's attention and provides better access is a good thing. Pine Mountain provides one of the best scenic vistas in town."

The parking area is at the entrance of the Pine Mountain trail, which is linked with the Ives Trail, Bennett's Pond Loop Trail and Hemlock Hills trail.

Creating the parking lot involved taking out small saplings and boulders. "Millings" —  a grinding that takes place prior to paving a road — were put in by the town's highway department, Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi said, adding the millings are made from recycled material from the town's road projects.

Previously, many hikers parked at Bennett's Pond, and walked 1 or 2 miles to the Pine Mountain trail entrance.

The parking lot was expanded at no cost to the town.

"The only cost involved was a few bales of hay on the embankment to allow the seed to take hold," Marconi said.

Pine Mountain trail has a place in history —  a large rock along the trail is one of the spots where Revolutionary War soldiers set fires in order to relay signals, according to the Ridgefield Conservation Commission.   

It takes about two hours round trip to hike the trail, which is rated "difficult" by the conservation commission.

Due to the low amount of snow this year, the town's highway department had time available to do projects like this one.

Additionally, Marconi said a lot of people got outdoors and began doing outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"People are outdoors and the use of our trails has expanded substantially, demanding this kind of improvement for parking," he said. "The demand for parking hasn't been that great, up until the past couple of years. Because of COVID, people got out and began exploring and walking out into nature more."