Archive for April, 2014

Durfee Hill – Glocester

  • Durfee Hill State Management Area
  • Reynolds Road, Glocester, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°54’8.48″N,  71°47’3.16″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 26, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.4 miles
  • Moderate due to hills and unmarked trails.

This morning I ventured into the Durfee Hill Management Area with a fellow hiker. It was a very wet and rainy hike, but nonetheless, a nice little stroll. We followed the route (for the most part) described in Ken Webers book “Weekend Walks in Rhode Island”. Starting at a parking area by the checking station on Reynolds Road (Rhode Island Route 94), we made our way to the road and turned left following it downhill while looking for a trail on the right after pole number 33. Turning right onto the trail we were immediately in an area of pines with a large ledge to our right. At the next intersection we explored the path to the right to see if we would find an overlook. After a little bit we gave up on that and returned to the previous trail. Continuing on the trail we passed a marsh area on the right before it opened up to a clearing. At the clearing we followed the trail to the left to a Y intersection. We went left here and soon we could see a small pond to our right. The trail went downhill into an area of mud with a small stream crossing. Just after this point we turned left looking for and eventually finding a faint trail that climbed a rather substantial hill to its top. Stop, take a breather! At the top of the hill we followed the ridge line to the left until it met with another trail. Taking a quick left then right the trail eventually came out to Route 94. In this stretch we saw three deer. We then crossed Route 94 to the orange gate on the other side. We followed that trail passing a historical cemetery on the left. The graves here were dated from the early 1800’s. Just after the cemetery the trail splits. We followed the trail to the left and downhill. At the bottom of the hill we followed a narrow trail to the right and up a hill. The trail then turns left an downhill to an intersection. We turned left at the intersection and followed the open lane passing a small pond and brook on he right. Ahead we came to a large pond. We turned right and followed the trail away from the pond back into the woods and uphill. This trail runs through a large area of pines and hemlocks. We then came to a Y intersection. We followed the trail to the left and went downhill towards the pond. After crossing a brook we came to an opening. (The description we were using calls for a tractor road at this point. It was not very obvious to us. So we did some exploring.) After following the edge of the woods for a bit we did come to the road. It slowly climbs uphill back to the checking station where the cars were parked.

Trail map for this site can be found at: Durfee Hill. However most of the trails described are not shown.

Rain On The Pond

Rain On The Pond

Fort Wetherill – Jamestown

  • Fort Wetherill State Park
  • Fort Wetherill Road, Jamestown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°28’49.65″N,  71°21’56.72″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 24, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.1 miles
  • Moderate due to rocky footing in areas, some elevation.
 
EXERCISE CAUTION NEAR CLIFFS AND AROUND FORT.

I was joined by a group of explorers today for this hike. We had stopped initially to take in the views from the cliffs here. I stop here often when in the area and today was no exception. We first embarked towards the cliffs from the second parking area. From the cliffs you get a sweeping view of where the bay meets the ocean. Across the way you can see the Castle Hill Light and in the distance you can see the Beavertail Light. After showing my young guests the beauty of this location they discovered a narrow path. And off hiking we went. Wetherill has a vast network of narrow paths that meander throughout the park. In fact one could easily make a 2 mile hike here, if not more. Being lead by the kids there was no rhyme or reason to our route. I turned on the GPS out of curiosity to record the distance and off we went. Within a few minutes we came across the old fort. After giving a quick history lesson, the kids imaginations were running away of what this must have been like back in the day. We spent quite of bit time exploring the area being sure to stay in the safest areas. Many do venture into the fort. The rooms are damp, cool, and covered in graffiti. (Some of the graffiti is unsavory for children, however it seemed my guests were distracted enough by their imaginations and excitement). After we reached the far end of the fort we made our way back to the car.

I did not find a trail map online.

The View From The Cliffs

The View From The Cliffs

Hampden Meadows – Barrington

  • Hampden Meadows Greenbelt/Sowams Trail
  • Linden Road, Barrington, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°44’44.61″N, 71°17’52.11″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 22, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.3 miles
  • Easy.

 

Today I was accompanied by a co-worker on this exploratory hike. I came across this site while researching another site that I had recently hiked. I did not find much of anything about it other than an article in a local on-line newspaper that stated that the town was looking to make improvements to the trail. That article was a few years old. I really had no idea of the trails distance, whether it were passable, and so forth. We set out from a small grass parking area on Linden Road where there is signage for the trail. The first half mile of the trail is a wide flat path and is ideal not only for hikers, but for walkers and joggers as well. There are occasional boardwalks over muddy spots. A stream is off in the woods a bit to the right. At the end of the first section is a small pond. After crossing Kent Street the trail continues on the right side of the stream. Signage here calls it off as the Sowams Trail. The trail is much narrower and root bound in areas as it follows the shore of the stream. After the next crossing (by the school) the trail continues along the stream becoming narrower and muddier before exiting at Christine Drive. There is no signage at this end and the trail is almost non-existence at the very end as the trail squeezes between a fence and stream. We then retraced our steps back to the car. I was also pleasantly surprised by the wildlife sightings. We came across one rabbit, two ducks, and three deer.

 

I did not find a trail map online.

Hampden Meadow Greenbelt

Hampden Meadow Greenbelt

Wilbour Woods – Little Compton

 

Wilbour Woods would be our third short hike of the day. I really had very little knowledge of what we would find here as I did not research it too much. Nonetheless, I found Wilbour Woods very peaceful and serene. We started this hike from a small parking area along the loop road. You can start from any point along the loop road. We then followed the loop road in its entirety counter clockwise. The loop road follows the shore of Dundery Brook as it passes through the property. We came across a trail head along the way and followed it into the woods. It was a short “lollipop” trail. We did come across some evidence of geocaching along this trail. After returning to the loop road we came across a small pond with a rather large stone and small waterfall. We saw some snails here. It seemed we were followed by butterflies that looked surprisingly similar to the ones we saw on our previous hike. We then continued along the loop road passing some signs posted on trees. One was a quote of Roger Williams. After some post hike research, I found that this area was a site of a Native American winter camp. We also came across some stone formations. One was a large slab that look as if it were to be some sort of monument. There are no inscriptions on it. There were some stone tables and benches here as well.

 

I did not find a trail map online.

Dundery Brook Through Wilbour Woods

Dundery Brook Through Wilbour Woods

Old Harbor – Westport

  • Old Harbor Wildlife Refuge
  • Old Harbor Road, Westport, MA
  • Trailhead: 41°31’52.48″N, 71° 7’17.97″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 19, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.6 miles
  • Easy, however sections are muddy due to seasonal conditions.

 

After our first hike in Dartmouth, we stopped here in Westport for our second hike. Old Harbor is a large tract of wooded property with a few trails. There is also a trail that leaves the refuge onto private property which is open to the public as long as you stay on the trail. We started this hike from the parking area and followed the red trail to the left. The trail is very well marked. We passed a trail on the left that appeared unmarked. (We would end up coming out here toward the end of the hike). We choose to ignore the first left turn onto the green trail and opted to follow the red trail a little further until we reached the green trails second intersection with the red. This is where we turned onto the green trail. We then followed it a bit before turning right onto the blue trail. This trail initially was only marked with blue flagging but then the markings seem to vanish. At an area that would be best described as a clearing with an intersection we turned left on what is an old cart path. This path eventually came back out to the red trail before passing a vernal pool with several hundred, if not thousands, tadpoles. At the red trail we turned right and followed it back to the car. There is also an orange trail here that we did not hike. Along most of this hike we were entertained by several butterflies.

 

Trail map can be found at: Old Harbor.

Stream at Old Harbor

Stream at Old Harbor

Parsons Reserve – Dartmouth

  • Parsons Reserve
  • Horseneck Road, Dartmouth, MA
  • Trailhead: 41°34’9.81″N, 71° 0’22.03″W
  • First Time Hiked: April 19, 2014
  • Last Time Hiked: March 21, 2019
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.5 miles
  • Easy with some elevation.

I’ve been keeping an eye on the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust (DNRT) website the last few weeks. A friend had informed me a while back about one of their seasonal attractions. So, this weekend Parsons Reserve jumped to the top of the hiking list. I started the hike from the entrance of the reserve across the street from the parking area at Russell Mills Landing. The trail, blazed both blue and yellow, climbed upward away from the road as it wound through an area of woods. The yellow trail splits to the right. I followed the yellow trail into a spectacular spring display. A large daffodil field in the middle of the woods. I was informed by an employee of the DNRT that they were planted here during the 1940’s as an effort to raise money for the war effort. Eventually that person sold the property to Mr. Parsons and in return Parsons donated the land to the DNRT. The site is now open to the public and very well worth the visit while the flowers are in bloom. (The DNRT does suggest a donation to help maintain the fields. A donation box is along the yellow trail just as it enters the field). I then continued back out to the blue trail. Turning right to follow the blue trail I crossed a boardwalk and meandered up and down through the woods until I came to a vernal pool. I also spent some time there looking at the small inhabitants of the pond before continuing our hike. I then followed the green trail loop to an unmarked trail for a bit, then turned around, back to the green trail, finished the loop and made our way back to the blue trail. I then retraced our steps along the blue trail to the entrance of the reserve. I came across a snake as well as a hawk at the reserve.

Trail map can be found at: Parsons Reserve.

Daffodil Field at Parsons

Daffodil Field at Parsons

Tarbox Pond – West Greenwich

  • Tarbox Pond – Big River Management Area
  • Hopkins Hill Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°37’51.32″N, 71°34’16.41″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 17, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.4 miles
  • Moderate with some elevation.

 

This would be my third excursion into the Big River Management Area. Last summer I had hiked Carr Pond and Hungry Hill on this property. As with all of Big River a map is a must and GPS is highly recommended as there is a tremendous maze of unmarked trails here. With that being said I began this hike with my Great Swamp Press map in hand from a parking area on Hopkins Hill Road. Two trails lead away from the parking area. I took the one to the left. (The one to the right will take you to Carr Pond). I followed this trail downhill first overshooting the turn I should’ve taken at the first major intersection. You should turn right at the first major intersection (currently marked with orange flagging). I then followed this trail and it veered left to a stream crossing followed by a small hill with another stream crossing on the opposite side before reaching a very large rock outcrop. At the outcrop there was a very large “camping” area with makeshift benches and fire pit. A marking in a tree called off the stop as Indian Rock. I then followed a narrow path off to the left that followed the edge of a peninsula before winding back to a wider dirt road. At the road I turned left and followed it nearly to its end. I then turned right at what appeared to be a T intersection with a trail leading off to the right and uphill. After crossing the top of the hill the trail descended to its end onto the abandoned portion of the New London Turnpike. At the turnpike I turned left crossing an overflowing area of marsh before turning left at the next trail. Along this trail I came across an old brick building with some very positive graffiti scrolled across the facade. At the end of this trail I turned left onto the next trail keeping the marsh in sight. Toward the end of this trail a vast network of minor trails meander in and out of the area. I found myself following the trails closest to the marsh and pond while heading in a westerly direction. There were many great sights in this area including some handy work by beavers as well as their dams. There were also some spots with wide open views of the pond and marsh. I also came across a pair of ducks in flight (who apparently knew I was trying to capture a photo of them… I failed!). This area is well worth exploring but be sure to keep your bearings. I eventually made my way back to Hopkins Hill Road via small trails following the edge of the pond. At the road I turned left over a small dam and then left again onto a trail that led back into the woods. I followed this trail to the second intersection (after a stone wall). At this point I turned right and uphill back to the parking area. Keep in mind this area is open to hunting and orange should be worn during hunting season.

 

Trail map can be found at: Tarbox Pond.

Flooded Marsh

Flooded Marsh

Waterman Pond – Coventry

  • Waterman Pond Wildlife Refuge
  • Waterman Hill Road, Coventry, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°43’18.83″N,  71°43’37.65″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 16, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.0 miles
  • Moderate due to seasonal conditions.

 

I suspect during the summer and fall months this would be an easy hike. Today however, after a night of heavy rain, this was a rather a bit of a challenge. The trail starts near the intersection of Plainfield Pike on Waterman Hill Road. It is a very well marked yellow blazed trail. However in the first section most of the trail was more of a stream and could be described as primitive at best. I found myself stepping from rock to rock and log to log to avoid deep areas of ponding. The trail does open up a bit about mid way into the refuge. The pond is visible to the right through the trees. I continued following the trail over a culvert to its end. The trail ends near a small opening with a good view of the pond. The geese here were very vocal about my presence. After taking a few photos I retraced my steps back to the trailhead.

 

I did not find a trail map on-line, however there is a link to the Audubon site.

Residents of Waterman Pond

Residents of Waterman Pond

Carbuncle Pond – Coventry

  • Carbuncle Pond/Place Farm – Nicholas Farm State Management Area
  • Plainfield Pike, Coventry, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°41’56.91″N, 71°46’19.02″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 16, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.5 miles
  • Easy with some elevation.

Spring in New England… I woke early this morning to the sound of a driving rain and sleet against the window. When I left the house the roads were wet with water. By the time I got to Western Coventry the precipitation had stopped but the roads were covered with a layer of snow. Did I mention it’s mid-April? I arrived at Carbuncle Pond before sunrise and the skies to the west were just clearing. Right place at the right time again, as I found myself watching the nearly full moon setting over the pond before I embarked on my morning hike. Following, for the most part, the hike described in Ken Weber’s “Weekend Walks in Rhode Island” I started this hike from the parking area at the dock and followed the road to the second parking area. From here I followed the edge of the pond to another area that looks like it might be used for parking. At the end of this area (opposite the end of a guardrail) a path opens up to the left. I followed this path to its end as it passed a marsh to the right before climbing up an embankment to an old railroad bed. At the top of the hill I turned right and followed it to an area where there was enough clearance to get a good overlook of the ponds below. I then turned around passing the trail that I came in on and a second trail to the left (I would use after retracing my steps) continuing straight along the old railroad bed until I reached a trestle bridge. This bridge spans the Moosup River and there are plans in the future to connect this area with the Coventry Greenway. At the trestle I turned around and retraced my steps and then turned right at the trail that was marked with blue blazes (this is a segment of the North-South Trail). I then followed the blue blazed trail through areas of pine groves and fields. The skies were now just about completely clearing up and the morning sun was casting long shadows through the trees along this stretch. I could only think of a few more beautiful moments. As the blue trail came out a section of woods I came to an intersection in a clearing. There was a pole with a blue blaze labeled “North South Trail”. Keep this pole in mind for the return part of this hike. At this pole I turned right continuing to follow the blue blazed trail as it descended to Spencer Rock. This is where the Moosup River cascades over a rock formation making for a waterfall. I was here last year, but on the other side, on the much lesser known Perry Farm hike. Today the water was rushing through here much faster than I’ve seen it before mainly due to the amount of rain the area had last night. There were actually flood advisories in the area overnight. After lingering for a bit I continued along the blue blazed trail through thick pines and into another field. At this field there is a very faint trail. In the event it is not visible the trail continues at the opposite end and the left of the field. There is a pole marked with a blue blaze there. The trail continues through more pines and the path narrows quite a bit for a small stretch. As the path descends downhill start looking for a field on the left. The blue blazed trail continues straight to the road. At this field I left the trail and followed the left tree line of the field up to a dirt road. At the dirt road I turned left and followed it to its end. I missed the turn described in the Weber book, however, with a good sense of direction and checking with the GPS I found an alternate route easily. At the end of the dirt road I had noticed the blue blazed North South Trail marker pole I mentioned earlier. If I were to go straight, I would end up back at the railroad bed. If I were to go left, I would end up back at Spencer Rock. So I went right for a few hundred feet before the path split into a three way fork. I followed the path to the right straight down to the road between the first and second parking area. I turned right at the road and followed it to the car. I did not come across much wildlife here other than many birds of all sizes. I did see deer and possibly fox tracks here.

Trail map can be found at: Carbuncle Pond.

Full Moon Setting Over Carbuncle Pond

Full Moon Setting Over Carbuncle Pond

April Snow

April Snow

Runnins River Trail – Seekonk

  • Runnins River Trail
  • Taunton Avenue, Seekonk, MA
  • Trailhead: 41°49’43.47″N, 71°19’36.94″W
  • First Time Hiked: April 14, 2014
  • Last Time Hiked: January 15, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.5 miles
  • Easy

Starting from behind the Newman YMCA at a small parking area, there is a dirt access road to the camp area of the YMCA. A few feet ahead is the beginning of the three quarter mile long Runnins River Trail. The trail has three very distinctively different portions to it. The first section that passes behind the fire station and town hall is a stone dust trail that is ADA compliant. The trail then passes over marsh areas and wetlands via a series of boardwalks before coming to a bridge that crosses the Runnins River. Beyond the bridge the trail becomes much more natural as the footing is comprised of soil and roots. The trail, blazed red, ends at Arcade Avenue. There are two smaller trails here as well. The newly improved yellow blazed Town Hall Trail which ends at the town hall parking lot (another parking option) and a blue blazed loop trail. Nonetheless, being a very short hike, it is indeed well worth checking out. By following Arcade Avenue north, then Ledge Road west, you can walk to the Turner Reservoir Loop for additional mileage.

Trail map can be found at: Runnins River.

Runnins River Trail

Runnins River Trail