The McLaughlin Vineyards segment is named for the vineyard that it encircles. McLaughlin Vineyards, incorporated in 1979 by the McLaughlin Family, grows grapes, bottles wine and taps maple trees for making maple syrup. Owner Bruce McLaughlin built two miles of Al’s Trail.
Shepaug dam and the outflow area, where the bald eagle fish in the winter, can be seen from this segment. After you pass the Shepaug dam, note the side trail up the hill to the right that leads to McLaughlin Vineyards. Stop in to their retail store and say "Hi!"
Also, see the beaver colony and lodge in the wetlands near the Iroquois Pipeline parking area on the old railbed.
When hiking north on this segment or on the easy loop, after entering the forest at the Nature Conservancy sign, note a left turn that is easy to miss. If you continue straight, the trail ends at the lake.
Easy loop around McLaughlin Vineyards (1.2 miles, 0:45 - good for small children). Starting at the Iroquois pipeline parking area, follow the trail east to the Nature Conservancy sign and go left into the forest. At the large quartz rock, look towards the lake at the largest white pine tree in the area. Continue for about a half mile to side trail to the left just after a small stream crossing. Go left up the hill back into McLaughlin Vineyard's parking lot. Stop in and say hello. Continue out of their parking lot and go left on the dirt road, back to the start.
Longer loop (about 2 miles): Starting at the McLaughlin Vineyards parking area, follow the access trail at the north end of the parking lot, behind the house and to the right of the grapevines. (There is a map box just a few yards into the woods.) Follow the trail 0.1 mi. to the McLaughlin Vineyards segment. Turn left and follow the trail to the gate on Alberts Hill Rd. Turn left and walk along the road a ways until you see the gas pipeline signs and "candy canes" on the left. Go left and follow the pipeline back to the McLaughlin Vineyards parking area.