Archive for October, 2014

Branch River Park – Burrillville

  • Branch River Park
  • Broncos Highway, Burrillville, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°58’52.46″N, 71°37’14.94″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 26, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.3 miles
  • Easy with some elevation.

 

This hike starts just to the right of the School Department building on the Burrillville Middle School property. The trail begins by descending down a hill. At the bottom of the hill I turned left and started following the wide path which is a former railroad bed. This trail loops around the back of the school and athletic fields passing several side trails. The main trail then starts climbing uphill. If you choose to keep this hike short, follow the trail uphill and it will take you out to the athletic fields. If you choose to see the Branch River then take the trail to the right marked by a small boulder. This trail, still following the old railroad bed, soon veers downhill and to the right. The trail becomes very narrow at points and eventually starts to hug the shore of the river. I continued following the trail staying to the left at trail intersections keeping the river to my left. Continuing straight at a four way intersection, and then through a very narrow path, the trail then turns toward the right and starts a long climb uphill. The trail eventually follows a ridge before descending down to the main trail. Here I turned left, then right, and uphill to the car. There were a few areas that cross streams that could be difficult. However all the streams here were dry at the time of this hike. I saw several birds here and came across a man walking his dogs.

 

I did not find a trail map on-line.

Branch River

Branch River

Breakheart Pond – Exeter/West Greenwich

  • Breakheart Pond – Arcadia Wildlife Management Area
  • Hicks Trail, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°35’43.81″N, 71°42’13.28″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 24, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.7 miles
  • Easy.

 

I had originally planned on doing a 6 mile hike in this area this morning but due to the wet weather I decided to do a much shorter hike instead. I choose to hike a loop around the ever scenic Breakheart Pond. Starting from a parking area near the pond I made my way to a small bridge that crosses Breakheart Brook. Here is a small dam and waterfall as well as the ruins of an old fish ladder. I soon found myself following the yellow blazes of the Breakheart Trail. The trail then turns left at a sign depicting distances to nearby landmarks. Here on the left is the first cellar hole I encountered. I soon crossed another brook with a small waterfall on the right. The trail then crosses into West Greenwich slowly moving away from the pond. I then found myself in an area of pines and oaks with stone walls. Next, I approached an intersection. Two trails lead to the left, one blazed yellow. They merge at the bottom of the small hill. Another trail goes straight. I turned left following the yellow blazes and crossed another wooden bridge. Here you can see the north end of the pond. After crossing the bridge, the yellow blazed trail turns right. I continued straight up a very small hill. At the top of the hill I turned left onto Hicks Trail. This would eventually lead me back to the parking area. The trail here is a wide lane that traverses through tall pines and a fern covered forest floor. A small spur trail to the right appears. A few feet in along this spur is another cellar hole. There are also several stone walls here. Continuing along the Hicks Trail and back into Exeter, I soon found a small opening to the left with a sweeping view of the pond. There is another at the boat ramp just ahead in the parking area. After taking a few pictures I finished the hike and returned to the car. Hunting is allowed here and blaze orange is required during hunting season.

 

Trail map can be found at: Breakheart Pond.

Rainy Morning At Breakheart Pond

Rainy Morning At Breakheart Pond

Chase Farm – Lincoln

  • Chase Farm Conservation Area
  • Great Road, Lincoln, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°54’22.43″N, 71°25’43.05″W
  • First Time Hiked: October 18, 2014
  • Last Time Hiked: August 27, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.6 miles
  • Easy with slight elevation.

Nestled within the Great Road Historic District, Chase Farm offers a picturesque stroll in the rolling hills of Lincoln. The farm was established in 1867 and a couple decades later became a dairy farm serving customers not only in Lincoln, but Pawtucket and Central Falls as well. The farm ceased operations in the 1960’s and the land and the Chase Farm House would eventually become the property of the town. I started this walk from the parking area following a stone dust road uphill to its end near a small pond. The road passes large open fields, a rather large tree, and a garden along the way. At the end of the road I then turned left and followed a path through a “tunnel of trees”. I then turned right keeping the tree line to my left and another large field to my right. I followed this path behind the small pond to its end. I then turned left followed by a right, again keeping the tree line to my left. This path looped back to the end of the entrance road by the pond, all the time climbing slightly uphill. At the end of this path you have a sweeping view of the fields and Great Road below. You can also see the silos of the farm and the Hearthside House on the adjacent property. From this point I retraced my steps back to the parking area. I came across several folks walking their dogs here. They were very friendly as they greeted me. Keep in mind though that the rules require you to leash your dogs. I also came across some photographers and a couple picnicking. The local Boy Scout pack was here at the time of my visit launching rockets and hiking. This property is also used for events year round.

I did not find a trail map on-line.

A Path At Chase Farm

A Path At Chase Farm

Hell Hollow – Voluntown/Plainfield

  • Hell Hollow – Pachaug State Forest
  • Hell Hollow Road, Voluntown, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°38’14.19″N, 71°52’9.77″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 13, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 7.6 miles
  • Moderate due to distance and some rocky footing.

 

For such a sinister name, Hell Hollow is quite a beautiful place, especially this time of year in Southern New England. Many of the trees here are approaching peak foliage. The splashes of reds, oranges, and yellows make for a nice backdrop of the two ponds along this hike. I joined a fellow hiker/blogger for this hike. We started from a parking area on Hell Hollow Road at the pond. We then headed east along the road about 1/10 of a mile then turned left onto the blue blazed Pachaug Trail. We followed this trail until we reached an intersection with the blue going to the right and yellow to the left. We were now in Plainfield. Here we went left onto the yellow blazed Quinebeag Crossover Trail. The trails here are covered in leaves and can be rocky in areas as they wind through areas of oaks, pines, and stream beds. Be sure to keep an eye on the blazes as the trail becomes a little difficult to follow at times due to ground cover. We did come across a coyote here, unfortunately for this animal, it was just the remains. This section of trail soon ends at Flat Rock Road. We turned left, still following the yellow blazes, and followed the road to a split. Here we stayed to the left and followed the short section of what was left of the yellow blazes. We then found ourselves at the next intersection. This was the Quinebeag Trail. If we were to turn right the trail would lead us to Lockes Meadow Pond. We continued straight (now a blue blazed Quinebeag Trail) still following the aptly named Flat Rock Road. We soon came to areas of ledge that the road traversed over. To the left is a small overlook. At the time of the hike there were to many leaves on the trees, but I was told the view is decent in the winter months. We then continued turning left off of Flat Rock Road following the blue blazes. If you reached the paved road, you have missed the turn. From here we followed the Quinebeag southerly a little over a mile passing a cellar hole at the trail intersection about halfway through this section. The footing is a little tough here as the trail is very rocky in areas. We soon found ourselves back at Hell Hollow Road. (You can turn left here and follow the road back to the car if you want to cut the hike in half.) Here we turned right following the road a bit before turning left into the woods again continuing to follow the blue blazed Quinebeag. The trail then makes a small horseshoe before coming to the next turn. This turn was not easy to find as the trail blazes are quite faint here. A couple hundred feet before the road the Quinebeag turns to the left. It is a very narrow trail along this stretch but still better than walking the road. Fear not though if you can not find it, just follow the road. They run parallel and both come to a picnic area a little over a mile away. After some slight backtracking, we found the trail and carefully proceeded being sure to keep an eye on the blazes. The trail is quite nice meandering at times through a grove of young pines. We did have to cross a rocky area that appears to normally be a difficult stream crossing. We soon came to the picnic area. Here we stopped for a quick break. The picnic area overlooks Phillips Pond which is quite smaller than Hell Hollow Pond. From here we then made our way onto the road crossing the small stream, then left through the parking lot and onto the blue/red blazed Phillips Pond Trail. Soon we were turning left onto the blue blazed Pachaug Trail once again for the final stretch of the hike. Again we were in areas of pine groves. Some of the ground cover included wintergreen, partridge berries, and a variety of mushrooms. At the end of the trail we turned left onto the road and followed it to Hell Hollow Pond where the cars were parked. This area is open to hunting. Orange should be worn during hunting season. Futhermore, sections of Hell Hollow Road are closed from December to March.

 

Trail map can be found at: Hell Hollow.

Foliage at Hell Hollow Pond

Foliage at Hell Hollow Pond

Norman Bird Sanctuary – Middletown

  • Norman Bird Sanctuary
  • Third Beach Road, Middletown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°29’58.69″N,  71°15’3.14″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 10, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.8 miles
  • Moderate with difficult terrain in areas.

 

This property situated at the southern end of Aquidnick Island is truly a gem. There are several miles of trails here that vary from a stroll to sections that require some climbing. The views on the overlooks are absolutely remarkable. The property is abundant with species of all sorts including mammals, reptiles, and of course birds. The sanctuary is a privately owned but open to the public. The hours are 9 A.M. to 5 P.M. daily except Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is also a (well-worth) fee to enter the property. All of that information along with information on programs can be found on their website. After stopping in the Welcome Center to pay entry and get a trail map I made my way down the main trail just to the right of the building. This trail, known as the Norman Universal Access Trail, is a stone dust covered trail that first leads towards an open farm field with a chicken coupe and rolls of hay. The trail then turns to the left and loops behind the Welcome Center passing the first of several stone walls. I soon found myself following the signs leading me to the pond. The trail meanders slowly downhill passing intersections (all with signs) for the Woodland and Quarry Trails. I continued following signs leading me to the pond and found myself on the first of the boardwalks. At the end of this first boardwalk and to the right is the small pond. Here there is a small observation deck. The pond, surrounded by grass and wildflowers, has a few boulders and fallen tree limbs in it. On this pass of the pond I saw a lone mallard resting on a stone and a heron was coming in for a landing. The trail then continues over a wooden bridge that crosses a spillway. Up to this point the hike is very easy. The remainder of it is on trails with several roots, rocks, and follows ridge lines.  Soon I approached the next boardwalk and intersection. Here I turned left. The trail splits again in a few feet. I opted to stay to the left onto a trail that winds through areas of small boulders, stone walls, and ferns. It soon passes the Shady Glade Trail to the left. I continued straight. Along this trail I caught my first glimpse of the water of Gardiner Pond on the left. To the right is the first sign of the elevation coming up as a large ledge becomes visible. The trail soon turns to the right and a set of wooden steps appear. At the top of the steps I turned left onto the Hanging Rock Trail. This would be the first of four ridge trails of this hike. I followed the 70 foot high puddingstone ridge to an overlook at the end of the trail. This overlook is the reason you want to bring binoculars. From this overlook you can see the cathedral of St. Georges School to the west beyond the pond below. You can see Purgatory Chasm as well to the southwest. From this vantage point it appears as a large crack in a ledge near Second Beach. Beyond Easton Point (just south of the chasm) you can make out another point aptly named Lands End. That is where the Cliff Walk in Newport ends. To the south and overlooking Second Beach is a sweeping view of the Atlantic Ocean. You will occasionally see large ships using the shipping lanes just south of Rhode Island. To the southeast you see the peninsula that is home to the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. On a clear day (overlooking Sachuest, just to the left of the large building and parking lot on the point) you can see the Sakonnet Point lighthouse. And finally to the east is Gardiner Pond just below, Third Beach, and the Sakonnet River. Beyond that is the rolling hills and farms of Little Compton. After taking in the view for a little while, I retraced my steps back to wooden steps. Instead of going down them, I continued straight along the ridge line trail slowly going downhill to the next intersection. Then I turned left passing a four way intersection where the Valley Trail begins. I continued straight and then went left onto the Red Fox Trail at the next split. The Red Fox Trail also follows a ridge line and near its end it follows a stretch that has sheer drops on both sides. Fear of heights could be an issue here. Just before the trail loops is another great view. The view from here includes much of the same from Hanging Rock, but from here you can see just how impressive Hanging Rock actually is. I also found this stop very serene in sound. A cool ocean breeze was rustling through the thousands of cattails in the valley below. Continuing, I followed the trail as it looped back north. I came to another intersection and noticed a set of signs on a tree. The signs simply read “Difficult” and “Easy” each with an arrow. I choose to go left here onto the Nelson Pond Trail. If you don’t like climbing or heights you should go straight here. The signs are true to word. After crossing a small boardwalk, I found myself climbing up a series of rocks along the trail to the third ridge of the hike. The trail then levels out a bit. The “easy” trail eventually rejoins to the right. Here I found myself entertained by a murder of crows. One was actually hanging upside down from a tree branch as if it were a bat. Continuing straight, the trail splits. The trail to the left leads further uphill the another overlook. From here you can see the sprawling Gray Craig Mansion as well as Nelson Pond. I then continued. What goes up must come down, and that is exactly what this trail does next. I found myself cautiously and methodically making my way down parts of the trail. The trail the bends right and then left, levels out, and passes the entrance of the Red Fox Trail to the right before coming to the four way intersection where the Valley Trail begins. Here I turned left making my way to the Gray Craig Trail. I passed a trail to the right, and then came to another boardwalk that crosses Paradise Brook. After crossing the boardwalk I continued to the loop trail after being greeted by a wild turkey. At the beginning of the loop I opted to follow the trail clockwise as it climbed the fourth and final ridge on the property. After completing the loop I retraced my steps back to the last intersection. Here I turned left following a trail that would lead me back to the end of the Universal Access Trail by the pond, then turning left again and crossing the wooden bridge by the pond once again. At the pond there was no sign of the mallard or heron I saw on the way in, however, several turtles were here sunbathing. I also got a glimpse of a muskrat here. From here I retraced my steps back to the Welcome Center. Along the entire hike I could hear rustling of squirrels and birds in the fallen leaves all around. Some of the birds I observed here were blue jays, a red tailed hawk, robins, cat birds, finches, and geese. I also noticed an abundance of shrubs and bushes with berries as well as several different types of trees. The Norman Bird Sanctuary offers a little bit of everything to any nature enthusiast.

Trail map can be found at: Norman Bird Sanctuary.

Red Fox Trail Looking Toward The Atlantic Ocean

Red Fox Trail Looking Toward The Atlantic Ocean

Hanging Rock

Hanging Rock

Hidden Lake – Hopkinton/Voluntown

  • Hidden Lake
  • Camp Yawgoog Road, Hopkinton, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°31’32.87″N, 71°47’21.05″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 4, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.2 miles
  • Fairly easy with some moderate terrain, rocky in areas with some climbing.

 

The beautiful property, just north of Camp Yawgoog, is nearly pristine. The property is privately owned by the Rhode Island Boy Scouts, but the trails are open to the public. There is signage at the parking area that depicts this. For this hike, a loop, I parked at a small parking area with a sign for Hidden Lake.  I decided to eliminate the small road section of the hike first which resulted in me doing this loop in a clockwise direction. This would also save the lake views for the end of the hike. From the parking area I followed Camp Yawgoog Road west about 1/5 of a mile following the yellow blazes along the road. Soon, I found the yellow and blue blazes indicating the turn to the right. This trail is in fact the southern end of the Tippecansett Trail, as well as a portion of the Narragansett Trail. The trail is narrow but very well maintained. It meanders through boardwalks, outcrops, and through root bound areas as it straddles the Connecticut/Rhode Island border, continuously crossing back and forth into each state. I soon approached an area of large outcrops, boulders, and ledges. The trail seems to go downhill and around the towering ledge. The blazes, however, have you going over the outcrop. Following the blazes, I made my way to the top of the outcrop. This area is known as Dinosaur Caves. I then continued along the trail, eventually coming to a split. The trail to the left is the blue blazed Narragansett Trail, heading west into Connecticut towards Green Fall Pond. The trail to the right is yellow and blue blazed. There is a sign here indicating that it is the Tippecansett Trail. I turned right here and climbed down the very rocky trail. The trail soon comes to another large outcrop and the trail blazes split here. The yellow blazes of the Tippecansett Trail head to the left and the blue blazes continue straight. Along with the trail I had been following, the remainder of the blue blazed trail ahead of me is part of the Yawgoog Trail. After continuing on the blue blazed trail for a bit, I came to an intersection. The blue blazed trail turns right here. The trail to the left is the unmarked “Hill 431 Trail”. I turned right. This section of the hike is quite level and easy as it gently traverses downhill over a long stretch. This trail ends at the next intersection, where I turned right onto the white blazed trail that would lead me to Hidden Lake. This area becomes hilly again and the trail eventually splits at another outcrop. The option is yours on which way to go. The two trails join again on the other side of the lake. I choose to turn left going down another steep hill. The trail winds up and downs small hills before coming to a picnic area. Here there is a small rock peninsula that juts out into the lake. After spending a moment taking a few photographs and observing the ducks I continued along the white trail. The trail crosses over a spillway before joining the “other white trail”. Turning left here, I soon found myself back at the car.

Trail map can be found at: Hidden Lake.

Hidden Lake in Hopkinton

Hidden Lake in Hopkinton

This trail was featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine – October 2014

This trail was featured in RI Local Magazine – May 2015