Archive for July, 2014

Wolf Hill/Mercer Lookout – Smithfield

  • Wolf Hill Forest Preserve/Mercer Outlook
  • Waterview Drive, Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°53’56.01″N, 71°32’22.30″W
  • First Time Hiked: July 27, 2014
  • Last Time Hiked: November 27, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.0 miles
  • Moderate to difficult due to elevation.

 

The Wolf Hill Forest Preserve is another Smithfield Land Trust property. It offers several miles of trails, a couple of overlooks, and a World War II memorial. We, The Providence County Hiking Club, had a small group out for this very humid hike. We had rain approaching from the west as well. We started at the green blazed trailhead on Waterview Drive. The trail immediately ascends and winds up the hill. The green blazed trail passes through areas with several types of trees and is quite rocky in some areas. When we reached the yellow blazed trail we turned left to follow it. The yellow trails winds through an area of moss covered boulders before coming to the power lines. After crossing under the power lines the trail turns right up an area of outcrop before turning left back into the woods. After entering the woods again we came across some fellow hikers from The Rhode Island Hiking Club doing one of their infamous “Wolf Hill Exercise Hikes”. After chatting briefly with them we moved on along the yellow trail to the site of the World War II plane crash. Three U.S. servicemen died here on August 5, 1943 after their plane experienced an engine failure and crashed on Wolf Hill. The Airmen’s Memorial features a large boulder, believed to be where the plane came to its rest, and a plaque with the names of the servicemen. We then continued on the yellow trail until we reached the white trail. The two trails intersect here. We stayed to the right onto the white trail following it until, first crossing the blue blazed trail, then continuing along the white before we turned left onto the blue blazed trail as it intersected once again. The blue blazed trail brought us to the Mercer Lookout. On a clear day it is said that you can see Providence, Brayton Point in Somerset, the upper Narragansett Bay, and the Mount Hope Bridge in Bristol. Today, being hazy, cloudy, and humid, we could see only parts of Providence. There is also a chimney here, being the remains of what was once believed to be a cabin. After we lingered for a bit here we retraced our steps back to the intersection of the white and yellow trails. We then followed the white trail instead of making our way back down the yellow. The white trail eventually led back across the power lines and to the Ken Weber Memorial Trail which is a red blazed trail at the next intersection. Ahead is an unblazed trail that leads to the Quarry Overlook. We turned right following the red blazed Ken Weber Trail to its end at the green trail. For those so inclined of a more challenging hike, instead of following the red trail to its end, pick up the green trail about two tenths of a mile after turning onto the red trail. It will lead you almost all the way down Wolf Hill before sending you back up. The trail is very reminisce of trails I have hiked in the White Mountains in years past. Although challenging, the beauty of this section of the green trail is well worth it. There is one area that has a massive rock wall as the trails passes it. Regardless of which route you choose, from the intersection of the end of the red trail and green trail, follow the green trail back to the beginning of the hike. Although it was a gray and humid day the weather held out until just about the end of the hike.

 

Trail Map can be found at: Wolf Hill/Mercer Lookout.

Airmen's Memorial At Wolf Hill

Airmen’s Memorial At Wolf Hill

Along The Green Trail

Along The Green Trail

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Purgatory Chasm – Sutton

  • Purgatory Chasm State Reservation
  • Purgatory Road, Sutton, MA
  • Trailhead: 42° 7’44.97″N, 71°42’53.44″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 26, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.5 miles
  • Various difficulties, the chasm is difficult to strenuous, the remainder of the hike is moderate.

 

Indeed one of the most unique natural spots in Southern New England, the centerpiece of this hike is the granite chasm which in spots is up to 70 feet deep. It features countless boulders and some caves. Climbing the walls of the chasm is prohibited except by permit. Many injuries have occurred here and there are several warning signs throughout the chasm. In fact, I would suggest checking the forecast before heading here. A damp or rainy day could make the scaling over the rocks and boulders outright dangerous. Also the chasm itself is generally closed in the winter months. Starting early and one of the first to arrive I started today’s hike by first tackling the chasm. The chasm entrance is well marked and the Chasm Loop Trail is blazed blue. It took a little time to conquer this first part of the hike for a couple of reasons. First, scaling and maneuvering over and around the quarter mile of boulders. Second, this is a great place for a guy with a camera (that would be me) to capture the sun coming over the chasm walls. And lastly, I found myself spending some time watching the endless amounts of chipmunks in the chasm. Near the end of the chasm I turned left and continued to follow the blue blazed Chasm Loop Trail as it winded uphill. From this trail there are some impressive views of the chasm. Be sure to not get to close to the edges. I came across Fat Man’s Misery (which I choose to just view) and the Devils Corncrib before following the trail back to the chasm entrance. From here I went around the pavilion to the beginning of the trail named Charley’s Loop. It is a yellow blazed trail that winds through the southeast section of the reservation. I came across some early morning dog-walkers along this stretch. When I reached the intersection with the signage I followed the Little Purgatory Trail which was blazed green. When I reached the small chasm with the trickling waterfall I followed a trail to the right looking for the loop. After a bit I realized that there were no longer any blazes and the trail didn’t seem to loop back in the proper direction. So I retraced my steps back down the trail until I got to the “road”. Here I turned left then left again onto the orange blazed Forest Road Trail. This old stone and dirt road seemed endlessly uphill before it broke off right into the woods. At the end of the Forest Road Trail I turned left onto the Old Purgatory Trail, still blazed orange, as it wound up and down through the forest. The trail eventually end at Purgatory Road where I turned right and made my way back to the car. I did not expect to get 3.5 miles of hiking here (and I suspect it had to do with getting a little off track on the Little Purgatory), but I must say, this was a rather challenging hike on a warm summer morning. Well worth the challenge though.

Trail Map can be found at: Purgatory Chasm.

In The Chasm

In The Chasm

Chipmunk

Chipmunk

King Phillips Trail – Uxbridge/Northbridge

  • King Phillips Trail – Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park
  • Hartford Avenue, Uxbridge, MA
  • Trailhead: 42° 5’58.19″N, 71°37’9.02″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 25, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.8 miles
  • Moderate due to some significant elevation.

 

Today’s hike would be my first of four planned hikes in this section of the State Park. I had previously did a hike last year at the southern end of the park at Blackstone Gorge. This hike would be an out and back hike with a small loop at the end. I started the hike from a parking area by Rice City Pond. I then followed a dirt service road into an area of fields. After the last field the road turns slightly to the right and uphill into an area of pines. Through this area the trail is rather indistinguishable. There are several picnic benches here and I made my way by them before finding the trail again. The trail then winds up and down through the woods keeping the cattails and marsh to the left as it makes it way into Northbridge. There are several other paths in this area (that are not on the map) but I kept to the one that seemed the most used. I eventually came to a four way intersection. The trail to the right (which I would return on) seemed to head to parking area on Wolf Hill Road. There were two trails to the left. One went downhill and the other seemed to head uphill. Looking to get to the overlook I opted to take the upward trail. It started its incline gently but toward the end it was more a literal climb. When I reached the top of Lookout Rock I took a breather and took in the view. Below I could see the hills of Uxbridge and the Blackstone River. I then followed what seemed to be the main trail downward before turning right down a side trail that brought me to another trail where I turned right again. This trail led me back to the four way intersection. From here I retraced my steps back to the car. I came across several birds and insects along this hike. This park is open to hunting during hunting season.

Trail Map can be found at: King Phillips Trail.

The View From Lookout Rock

The View From Lookout Rock

Perry Farm – Bristol

  • Perry-Tavares Farm
  • Metacom Avenue, Bristol, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°42’34.4″N 71°16’01.2″W
  • First Time Hiked: July 19, 2014
  • Last Time Hiked: January 16, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.6 miles
  • Fairly easy.

 

 

Between the first visit here in the summer of 2014 and the last, in January of 2017, the Bristol Conservation Commission and their many volunteers have made great improvements to this property. The nearly two mile system is blazed with blue, white, and yellow trails. There are several access points to the property including the Elmwood Drive entrance which features a footbridge over a small stream. The main entrance, opposite Fatima Drive, along Metacom Avenue offers a small parking area. The blue blazed trail runs from Metacom Avenue westerly to the power line easement and the yellow loop trail. Along this stretch you will pass a couple stone walls, vernal pools, and some old towering trees. The yellow trail loops through the midsection of the property passing areas of birch trees and small outcrops of pudding-stone. The white blazed trail at the northern end of the property weaves along the edge of a meadow and through areas of thickets that are a haven for birds. The property is especially suited for photography of flowers and birds. On the two (of likely several more) visits I encountered rabbits, toads, hawks, robins, blue jays, woodpeckers, finches as well as an abundance of wildflowers including milkweed, black raspberries, and grapes attracting not only the birds but butterflies, bees, and dragonflies. Deer, owls, and turkey have also been seen on this property.

Trail map can be found at: Perry Tavares Farm

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Winter Tree at Perry Farm Meadow

Eight Rod Farm – Tiverton/Little Compton

  • Eight Rod Farm Management Area
  • Eight Rod Way, Tiverton, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°33’12.29″N, 71°10’28.39″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 19, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.7 miles
  • Easy, mostly dirt roads.

 

Eight Rod Farm is a state management area that is still used for farming in the summer months and also used for hunting in the fall and winter. The section of the property that we explored today is on the west side of Eight Rod Way. We parked the car at the dead end and then started following the dirt road into the management area. The road hugs the Tiverton/Little Compton border. We walked briefly through an area of woods before we came across the fields. The fields are currently growing crops such as corn and such. We also came across a small pond with several frogs. We encountered a gentleman who was walking his dogs. He seemed very knowledgeable of the property and suggested to check out some of the side “roads”. He also stated that the State usually clears some of the trails here. After following the dirt road for about three quarters of a mile we retraced our steps back to the car occasionally checking out the side “roads” that led us to large fields overgrown with wildflowers. I saw several birds here including a hawk.

Trail map can be found at: Eight Rod Farm.

A Field Of Wildflowers

A Field Of Wildflowers

Sakonnet Point – Little Compton

  • Sakonnet Point
  • Rhode Island Road, Little Compton, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°27’47.32″N, 71°11’42.96″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 19, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.5 miles
  • Easy, mostly a beach walk.

 

Sakonnet Point is the southern most point in Little Compton. It has long sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean and is a haven for birds. There are several rocky islands just off the point as well as the recently restored Sakonnet Lighthouse. On one of these islands you can see the ruins of what was once the building of the West Island Fishing Club. This club was once visited by people of tremendous wealth and power including the likes of J.P. Morgan and President Grover Cleveland. There are some restrictions to this walk however. First, parking is rather strict in the area. I had come here using a walk described in the book “Bird Walks in Rhode Island”. The book suggested parking at the Sakonnet Marina. It is clearly stated on that property that parking is for members only. So we found a spot near the intersection of Rhode Island Road and Sakonnet Point Road. Secondly, the point itself is only open to residents of Little Compton (and their guests) from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Thirdly, if you plan on walking to the end of the point you should go at low tide. I would not suggest walking to the end of the point during high tide. And lastly, only the west beach (facing the lighthouse) is currently open to the public. Although the land above is a conversation area it is off limits due to the fragile habitats of the birds. From the car, we started this walk by walking down Rhode Island Road to its dead end. Here there is a trailhead that leads to the rocky beach. After a few hundred feet a path opens up through the ocean-side shrubs. We followed this path for a bit before making our way down to the sandy beach. From here we walked to the end of the point with waves coming up on both sides. From this point we had a spectacular view of the Little Compton and Westport shoreline to the east, the rocky islands and lighthouse to the west, and the long strand of beach the makes up Sakonnet Point to the north. We came across several birds here including cardinals, goldfinches, cormorants, as well as seagulls. We then retraced our steps back to the car.

I did not find a trail map on-line.

Sakonnet Light From The Point.

Sakonnet Light From The Point.

Forge Pond – Westport

  • Forge Pond Conservation Area
  • Forge Road, Westport, MA
  • Trailhead: 41°37’53.43″N, 71° 3’14.15″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 19, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.7 miles
  • Easy with some elevation.

 

Upon our arrival at Forge Pond we were immediately drawn to the dam and waterfall near the parking area. After taking a look at it we ventured into the woods following the yellow blazed trail that runs near the edge of the pond. The trail offered a few areas that came to the shore of the pond. There is a large boulder “outlook” where the Noquochoke River meets Forge Pond. After taking a few photos we continued following the yellow trail for a bit passing an area with several dragonflies before coming across some ruins. We then made our way to the blue blazed trail which climbs up a hill and loops back to the yellow trail. From here we retraced our steps back to the car.

Trail map can be found at: Forge Pond.

Noquochoke River By The Ruins

Noquochoke River By The Ruins