Archive for March, 2014

Purgatory Chasm – Middletown

  • Purgatory Chasm
  • Tuckerman Avenue, Middletown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°29’14.47″N, 71°16’9.89″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 24, 2014
  • Previous Visits: March 23, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.3 miles
  • Easy.
 
EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION NEAR EDGES.

There are two Purgatory Chasm’s in Southern New England, one being here in Middletown, Rhode Island and the other in Massachusetts (hike for another day). There is really no difficulty in reaching this site as the entire “trail system” is very short. However, this is a wonderful geological feature that most people are not even aware of. It is well worth a visit if you are just in the area or adding it as a supplement to a nearby hike. The chasm is a glacial cleft about 10 feet wide and about 50 feet deep that is continuously being filled with seawater. From the parking area follow the main path a few hundred feet to a wooden bridge. At the bridge you can view the chasm. There are other paths on the site. If you choose to venture on these paths use extreme caution near the edges. This is not a site that you would want to do any falling at. From the edges of the cliffs you also have sweeping views of Second Beach and Sachuest Point.

I did not find a trail map on-line.

The Chasm

The Chasm

Advertisements

Newport Wharf – Newport

  • Newport Wharf
  • Thames Street, Newport, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°29’5.85″N, 71°18’53.40″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 23, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.0 miles
  • Easy with slight elevation. Some cobblestone sidewalks.

For the most part, with some slight variation, following the route in Ken Webers “More Walks & Rambles in Rhode Island”, this walk covers a good chunk of some of Newport’s most visited sites. I parked on Thames Street near the Post Office. Currently parking at this location is non-metered from November 1st to April 30th with 3 hour parking Monday through Friday from 6PM to 9PM, Saturdays 1PM to 9PM, and Sundays from 9AM to 9PM. The rest of the time it is only 15 minute parking. I started the walk by walking north along Thames Street passing some interesting architecture of buildings such as the Kinsley, currently home of the Newport Blues Cafe. This stretch offers many eateries and souvenir shops. I then turned right at the pathway that leads to the Trinity Church that was built in 1726. Locals claim that George Washington had given a speech at this church in 1781. Other notable visitors of the church have been Queen Elizabeth II and Desmond Tutu. After passing the right side of the church I turned right onto Spring Street and then left onto Mill Street. The walk up Mill Street passes homes on the National Register Of Historic Places including the Corne House. I also came across a massive London Planetree which was marked with a plaque by the Newport Arboretum. I would notice several more trees along this walk with these plaques. At the top of Mill Street is one of Newport’s biggest mysteries. It is the Old Stone Mill in Touro Park. It is sometimes referred to as the Newport Tower. It is widely thought to be an old windmill but there is much debate to it’s construction date and furthermore of who built it. Some theories have it being built before Columbus reached America, possibly by the Norse, Templars, or Portuguese to name a few. After spending a little time here I then followed Bellevue Avenue in a northerly direction making my way pass the Hotel Viking before turning left down the narrow Touro Street. I then came to the backside of the District Courthouse, turned right on Farewell Street toward the side of the Colony House, turned left into Washington Square. The Colony House was built in the 1730’s and was once the State House. In July of 1776 the Declaration of Independence was read to the public here. I then continued down Washington Square and through the Long Wharf Walking Mall before reaching America’s Cup Avenue. The avenue is name after the famed yacht racing event that was held in Newport from 1930 to 1983. I then crossed the avenue and onto Long Wharf to take a peek at Newport Harbor. Most of the boats here at this time of year are settled in for the winter but in the summer months this is a bustling and very wealthy harbor with many yachts. I then continued my walk back to America’s Cup Avenue and started following it southerly towards Bowens Wharf and Bannisters Wharf. The two wharfs offer several restaurants and small shops. I then continued along America’s Cup Avenue to a sculpture simply known as The Wave. I then turned right onto Thames Street following it quite a distance pass several shops until I got to Wellington Avenue. Turning right onto Wellington I walked down the sidewalk pass a couple ball fields and into Kings Park. In the park there is a statue of Rochambeau, who was a French general that assisted the Americans during the American Revolution. There is a sweeping view of Newport from here as well as the Newport Bridge. I then retraced my steps back to Thames Street, crossing it and following the opposite sidewalk back towards Memorial Boulevard passing several more shops. I then turned right onto Memorial Boulevard and followed it uphill for one block until I got to St. Mary’s Church. This church built in the mid 1800’s was the location of the wedding of John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier in 1953. I then crossed the boulevard and followed it back down Thames Street passing the Post Office back to the car.

Scroll down to view a photo of a map that is outside the Visitors Center.

The Newport Tower

The Newport Tower

Map Of The Area Walked

Map Of The Area Walked

Wickaboxet/Pratt – West Greenwich

  • Wickaboxet State Management Area/Pratt Conservation Area
  • Saddle Brook Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°38’37.87″N, 71°42’58.30″W
  • First Time Hiked: March 22, 2014
  • Last Time Hiked: July 31, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 6.0 miles
  • Moderate to difficult, significant elevation, climbing optional.
 
 

It has been over two years since I have made my way into Wickaboxet. In the spring of 2014 I came here following the route described in Ken Webers “Weekend Walks in Rhode Island” book. That hike was a two and a half mile walk along old dirt roads that featured quite of few ledges and a former fire tower site. Since then some over the trails here have been blazed including the Wickaboxet Loop Trail. The loop trail, blazed blue, connects to the nearby Tillinghast Pond property and the Pratt Conservation Area and still follows some of the roads that Ken Weber used. For todays hike, a hilly six mile trek, I used the route that Auntie Beak followed (see map link below). Her route covers the Pratt Conservation Area as well as the loop trail with a visit to Rattlesnake Ledge. Wickaboxet is a quiet little gem full of pines and oaks. Although we did not see any wildlife we could hear the many song birds. We started this hike from a cul de sac at the end of Saddle Brook Road. The white blazed trail that runs through Pratt climbs up and over a rather large hill before leading into a valley crossing Acid Factory Brook. The trail narrows in spots and there are a couple of log bridges to cross the streams. The white blazed trail ends at the blue blazed loop trail. Turning right to follow the blue blazes, we passed through a pine grove and we soon came an old cemetery on the right. The graves here date back to the 1820’s. Next we were passing through an area of wild blueberries before coming to an old dirt road. We turned left, continuing to follow the blue blazes. You will notice a unique feature here. Ant mounds. Several of them, and if you look closely enough you will see just how many industrious insects there are here. A little further down the road the blue blazed trail turns to the right. Be aware of the markings or you may miss it.  The trail soon passes a cellar hole as it heads westward into the Tillinghast Pond Management Area. The blue blazed trail then turns left following the yellow blazed Flintlock Trail for a bit. There is a spur trail to the left that leads you to Phillips Pond if you feel like exploring. The yellow blazed Flintlock Trail continues straight, but you want to turn left to continue following the blue blazed Wickaboxet Loop Trail. After climbing slightly uphill for a little while, we came upon the Wilcox Homestead. Here is another cemetery that dates back to the 1820’s and another cellar hole. The trail then comes out to a dirt road again. Turning right we followed the dirt road to an intersection. There is another cellarhole just to the left at the intersection. If you were to continue straight you would come out to the main parking lot for Wickaboxet. We instead took the hard left onto the other dirt road. The road would start to gradually climb uphill. There is a wooden post on the left with a trail that leads to the towering Rattlesnake Ledges. There is a narrow path to the left that wraps around the back side of the ledges and up to the top. The view from atop Rattlesnake Ledge is quite impressive. The drop is also quite impressive, be sure not to get to close to the edge. After retracing our steps back to the dirt road we turned left and continued to follow the dirt road until the blue blazes turned right back into the woods. We followed the blue blazed trail passing yet another homestead. The Matteson Farm area has a few cellar holes. One is obviously the house with a set of stone stairs. The other appears to be the foundation of a barn. Soon we came to the white blazed trail again. From here we turned right and retraced our steps to the car. This very hilly section proved to be quite challenging to the end of a moderately long hike. This area is open to hunting. Be sure to wear orange during hunting season.

Trail map can be found at: Wickaboxet.

The View From Atop Rattlesnake Ledge

The View From Atop Rattlesnake Ledge

Cocumcussoc – North Kingstown

  • Cocumcussoc State Management Area
  • Old Post Road, North Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°34’52.43″N, 71°27’37.15″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 21, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.9 miles
  • Difficult due to overgrown and non existent trails and rocky footing, some elevation.
 
 

This would be the definition of exploratory hikes. I had done some research of the site in the past and most information led me to believe that this would be a difficult hike. First and foremost. This is a heavily hunted area and there is plenty of evidence of that. I came across several tree stands on this walk through the woods. Secondarily, all of the trails shown on the maps are overgrown and almost non existent. If you do not have a good sense of direction and also a reliable GPS unit I would suggest not even attempting this site. One could easily get lost here. Thirdly, I would not consider bringing children into this area. I found it difficult exploring the area with its vast amounts of thickets, splintered and broken trees, and stone walls. The area is rather rocky and footing can be treacherous. The map I had seemed to indicate that I could easily get a 3 mile hike in, but that just didn’t happen. I started this hike from Old Post Road and found some flagging tied on a tree. There were multiple colors of flagging as I followed it into the woods. The flagging was obviously put up by hunters as to not get lost. After about a mile I came across only slight evidence of any trails and decided to “call it”. At that point of the walk I was in an area of pure desolation. I could not hear the traffic of Post Road and I could see nothing but woods. I could almost hear nothing at all other than the breeze blowing through the bare trees. I was truly in the middle of the woods. I then retraced my steps following the flagging and GPS unit back to where I started. I stopped off briefly at the nearby Chamber of Commerce/Visitor Center to ask some questions about the site. They informed me that all of the trails are in fact overgrown and there may be a plan in the future to clear them. If so, I will revisit in the future, but for now, I suggest leaving this site to the hunters.

 

**Update: December 20, 2014: I have been informed by a member of the Rhode Island Land Trust Council that they are looking into clearing, blazing, and mapping the trails here in the near future.**

 

Trail map can be found at: Cocumcussoc.

Following Flagging

Following Flagging

Camp Nokewa – North Kingstown

  • Camp Nokewa – Nokewa State Management Area
  • Gilbert Stuart Road, North Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°31’1.58″N, 71°26’57.51″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 21, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.5 miles
  • Easy with some elevation. Easy with some slight elevation.
 
 

The Nokewa State Management Area is one of the newest and one of the smallest of the management areas. The land is a former Girl Scout Camp that was acquired in 2010. It sits on the western edge of Carr Pond in North Kingstown. I did not find much on-line about this site other than a map showing the property and roads. So, this afternoon, being the first of several half day Fridays for me, I decided to do some exploring of lesser known management areas. I started this hike from the beginning of the entrance road at Gilbert Stuart Road. Being unsure of the road condition and where it would end up I opted to park the car right at the entrance. The entrance is marked by an old Girl Scout camp sign. I followed the entrance road, which was deeply rutted in spots up to a parking area. (It appears that parking here would be just fine but would shorten the walk considerably). I then followed an old dirt road past a gate occasionally exploring side paths to the shore of Carr Pond. The road ends at a some what of a beach area. I then followed a path uphill and meandered through the woods passing several abandoned structures. This area also had quite of few stone walls and the looming Hammond Hill was to the right. The trail I followed eventually came back to the parking area. From there I retraced my steps back to the car at the beginning of the entrance road. This area is a hunting area and should probably be avoided altogether during hunting season as it appears to be less of a hiking destination than a hunting one.

Trail map can be found at: Camp Nokewa.

Carr Pond at Camp Nokewa

Carr Pond at Camp Nokewa

Village Park – Swansea

  • Village Park/Abrams Rock
  • Main Street, Swansea, MA
  • Trailhead: 41°44’55.86″N, 71°11’25.02″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 19, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.3 miles
  • Easy with some elevation. Moderate to difficult climbing is optional.
 
 

Village Park was my after work choice for a hike today. This was strictly a last minute decision and I hadn’t done much research on it. I had originally thought of checking out Anawan Rock in Rehoboth but I was more in a hiking mood than a short exploratory excursion. I have known about Abrams Rock (which is in Village Park) for a while but had never got around to checking it out until today. This property is widely known for off road bicyclists. The trails are rather narrow and there are wider fire roads. I did not have a set route in mind when I arrived but I figured I would at least venture out and look for the landmarks that intrigued me. I started this hike from the parking lot behind the Swansea Town Library. I first walked by a cemetery before the fire road veered to the left. I shortly came upon a gate. Just after the gate I turned left and followed the Lakeside Trail as it passed a soccer field before following the shore of a small lake. I took some pictures here in black and white of the clouds and lake. Near the end of this trail there is a dam and waterfall. I then found my way onto the Rusty Car Trail and ironically enough came across an old rusty car. I then followed some fire roads to Wildcat Rock. The rock is one of three rather large and impressive puddingstone boulders in the park. I decided to climb to the top of the rock and see how things (injuries) felt. The sense of accomplishment made the climb well worth it. However, going up was the easy part as I’m still having great difficulty with downhill climbs. After I scaled down the rock I found myself meandering through the Boulderdash Trail and the Two Guys Trail before reaching Abrams Rock. This rock is the largest in the park towering 40 feet above the trail. So I climbed it. After spending some time at the top and taking in the beauty and lonely solitude of Mother Nature I scaled back down and made my way back to the entrance and back to the car. I did discover a few things today. One, I am in much better shape than I was when I climbed the Hemlock Ledges Overlook last spring, and two, I’m still not completely healed from last summers injuries. As with most painful things in life, this will go away someday.

For more information about Abrams Rock and its history, a new book has been published by Michael J. Vieira and J. North Conway called New England Rocks: Historic Geological Wonders (2017). The book also features the photo below.

Trail map can be found at: Village Park.

Abrams Rock

Abrams Rock

Whale Rock – Narragansett

 

Whale Rock Preserve is one of Rhode Islands newest trails. It opened this past December. The snow has finally melted here in South County, but that, unfortunately has made for some mud. Aside that, this walk was all about being at the right place at the right time. I started from the parking area just under the “33 Harvey Lane” sign at the end of Old Boston Neck Road. The first part of the walk follows a dirt driveway past a private residence before continuing past a gate into a grassy area. Along this stretch a red tailed hawk landed on a lower branch of a tree less than 20 feet from me. I did manage to snap a few shots of the hawk. I don’t recall ever seeing one so up close and personal. After the grassy area the trail heads into an area of tall shrubs and trees and has several sections of boardwalks. I also came across a few rabbits in this section. The trail then comes out to an open area that runs along a chain link fence. The other side of the fence is Camp Varnum, a Rhode Island National Guard facility. The trail at this point actually lies on Camp Varnum’s property. Make sure you’ve got your boots on, because this is where it gets deep. Literally, I was beyond ankle deep in mud at points. At the end of the trail is a great overview of Narragansett Bay. From here you can see the remnants of the Whale Rock Lighthouse that was destroyed by the 1938 hurricane. You can also see the Beavertail Lighthouse across the passage. After spending a bit of time here, I retraced my steps back to the car.

I did not find a map on-line for Whale Rock, however, I’ve attached a photo of it below.

Up Close And Personal

Up Close And Personal

Trail Map

Trail Map