Archive for May, 2015

Moonshine Swamp – Richmond

  • Moonshine Swamp – Arcadia Wildlife Management Area
  • Baker Pines Road, Richmond, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°32’6.37″N, 71°40’30.25″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 27, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.3 miles
  • Moderate, some elevation and rocky footing, some areas difficult to navigate.

In the extreme southeastern portion of the Arcadia Management Area is a network of trails that is rather less known. Although the two main stretches of this hike are straightforward and easy to follow, there is a short section by the swamp that can be confusing if not disorienting. I would highly recommend a map (I used the Great Swamp Press map) and GPS for this hike in the case that you need to back track. This hike is also a tale of two hike. The first half follows an old abandon road whereas the rest travels through some very pristine sections of forest. I started the hike from Baker Pines Road opposite of New London Turnpike and followed the dirt road along the power lines. This is actually an abandoned section of the New London Turnpike which in its day was the main road long before Route 3 and Route 95. The dirt road follows a section of the North/South Trail for about 4/10 of a mile. The North/South then turns left. I would return from that trail. For the time being I continued straight along the dirt road following the power lines. Soon a trail merges from the right and continuing straight I would soon come to Interstate 95. The dirt road that I followed is rather rocky and descends approximately 170 feet. I then continued along short section of the road parallels the interstate before turning left back into the woods and into a open gravel area. This is where the navigation gets a little tricky. Passing through the open area I then turned left at the next intersection. Moonshine Swamp is here on the right through the trees. I continued straight following the main trail as it followed a stone wall and traversed through a grove of pines. The trail then splits and the main trail appears to lead to the left. Using the GPS and map I opted to go straight onto the less traveled and slightly narrower trail. At the next intersection I turned left and followed that trail to the next intersection. Here I turned left again and found the blue blazed North/South Trail once again. The remainder of the hike follows the blue blazes back to where the car is parked. This is by far the prettiest section of the hike and one of the more challenging as it climbs the nearly 170 feet of hill that I previously descended down. I came across several Lady slippers in bloom and the mountain laurel was budding.

I did not find a map on-line.

Along A Trail Near Moonshine Swamp

Along A Trail Near Moonshine Swamp

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Vin Gormley Trail – Charlestown

  • Vin Gormley Trail – Burlingame Management Area
  • Kings Factory Road, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°23’26.49″N, 71°40’43.51″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 24, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 8.0 miles
  • Moderate due to length, some rocky areas.

The Vin Gormley Trail in Charlestown is an 8 mile loop that traverses through a diverse terrain. A member of the Trails Committee of the Appalachian Mountain Club, John Vincent Gormley is a local hiking legend. Mr. Gormley spent countless hours clearing and maintaining trails in both the Arcadia and Burlingame Management Areas. In the 1980’s he started maintaining the yellow trail loop around Watchaug Pond. In the early 1990’s, the State of Rhode Island named this trail in his honor. The trail technically starts at the Burlingame Campground, however parking is difficult, if at all, and there is a fee to get into the campground during camping season. There is, however, a small parking area along Kings Factory Road where you can start the trail. Choosing this point for the beginning eliminates a good portion of the road walking first. From here you head south along Kings Factory Road, then turn right onto the Prosser Trail (a paved road). Soon you turn right again into the Burlingame picnic area. Stay to the left when you approach the information board and follow Sanctuary Road. The road soon becomes a gravel road as it approaches the Audubon Society’s Kimball Wildlife Sanctuary. The Vin Gormley Trail then splits to the right off of the road and follows the south end of Watchaug Pond as it cuts across the Audubon property. There are several spur trails here to the right to catch a view of the pond. Continue to follow the yellow blazes and you will soon approach the campground. Stay to the right when you get to the playground and then follow the yellow blazes straight ahead of you through the campground. Soon you will approach and information kiosk about the history of the trail. At this point you have hiked 2.4 miles, the remainder of the hike (with the exception of a short 1/4 mile stretch) is on wooded trails. The trail meanders through the woods as it crawls over boardwalks and passes streams and stone walls. The Vin Gormley Trail is joined by the blue blazed North South Trail for several miles as well. Where the trail crosses the Peary Healy Brook there is a covered bridge followed by a long stretch of more boardwalks. Continue to follow the yellow blazes northward passing several areas of ferns. When the trail comes out to Buckeye Brook Road, continue to follow the yellow blazes. You will be following the road a short distance before jotting back into the woods on the right once again. The last stretch of the hike continues to follow the yellow blazes crossing the access road to the former Burlingame North Camp. Continuing through areas of ledges and outcrops the trail becomes rocky. We concluded the hike at our point of beginning. The trails here are well worn and defined, however there are several trails that spur and lead off of the Vin Gormley. Be sure to keep an eye for the trail blazes at the trail intersections.

Trail map can be found at: Vin Gormley Trail.

The Covered Bridge At The Vin Gormley Trail

The Covered Bridge At The Vin Gormley Trail

Blackstone River Central – Lincoln/Cumberland

  • Blackstone River Bikeway – Central
  • New River Road, Lincoln, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°58’5.51″N, 71°28’1.02″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 20, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.0 miles
  • Easy.

Starting where we left off a couple weeks ago (Blackstone River North), we continued our walk along the Blackstone River Bikeway. The first mile or so of this walk is along a stretch of the bike path that is flanked by the railroad on the right and the river on the left. Most of it is fenced, but there are occasional trailheads that appear along the left. The Albion Dam soon appears on the river to the left. The water cascades over the dam then ripples downstream under the School Street Bridge. This is a good spot to relax and take in the scene. At the halfway point of this walk we crossed a bridge that spans the river. We were now entering Cumberland and the bike path climbs a small hill. There is some impressive looking ledge at this location. Soon we came to a railroad crossing where the bike path switches sides. Do not walk down the tracks. These are active tracks and occasionally a freight train will come rumbling through. We then continued along the bike path crossing under Interstate 295. About 2/10 of a mile after the interstate a path appears on the right. It leads to the river. Another path follows the river downstream pass the Ashton Dam. This path loops back to the bike path. We then continued south along the bike path crossing under the arched bridge that carries Route 116 over the Blackstone River. We then came to the Ashton Mill complex where we concluded this leg of the Blackstone River walk.

Trail map can be found at: Blackstone River Central.

The Albion Dam Along The Blackstone River.

The Albion Dam Along The Blackstone River.

Spencer Rock – Coventry

  • Spencer Rock
  • Lewis Farm Road, Coventry, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°41’24.97″N, 71°45’41.28″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 12, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.0 miles
  • Easy with some slight elevation.

In western Coventry the Moosup River cascades over a rock formation creating a waterfall. This large boulder the width of the river is known as Spencer Rock. The beautiful natural feature is accessible from various locations throughout the Nicholas Farm Management Area, but for this hike, I choose the most direct and easiest route that follows the blue blazes of the North South trail. I started the hike from Lewis Farm Road where the Trestle Trail crosses and started hiking westward. The Trestle Trail is an old railroad bed that once was used as part of the Providence, Hartford & Fishkill Railroad. The trail to the east is under development and is becoming a bike path. This part of the trail will one day connect to the Coventry Greenway and the Washington Secondary Bike Path. But for now it remains a dirt path that was once a railroad. Within in a couple hundred feet I was crossing a narrow trestle bridge. The trestle is now paved and has chain link fence on each side for safety. It sits high above the Moosup River. From here I observed a squawking crow among the tree tops. Just on the other side of the bridge in the middle of the trail you will find a square chunk of granite with a drill hole in it. This is a granite bound used by surveyors to mark property lines and corners. With that being said, there are many side trails along this stretch, however the trails to the south lead off the management property. I continued straight along the old railroad bed that is high above the surrounding terrain. Following the blue blazes, I soon turned right onto a trail the is surrounded by mostly pine trees with an occasional oak tree and some mountain laurel. The birds were very active along this stretch. I saw several wrens here and in the distance I could here frogs. I then came upon an small grass filled field that seemed to be a haven for dragonflies. The trail bends slightly to the right, back through the trees, and down a small rocky section before coming to a dirt road. Here, look for a white pole to the right with blue blazes on it. Beyond the pole is a narrow path that leads up and over a small hill to another dirt road. I then continue straight along the road a few steps through an open area to the river where Spencer Rock is. The rock is a large boulder that spans across the river and creates a small waterfall and the flow is very dependent on weather. I then spent some time lingering and taking in the beauty of this location for a while before retracing my steps back to the starting point. This entire hike follows the blue blazes of the North South Trail and the area is open to hunting. Be sure to wear orange during hunting season.

Trail map can be found at: Spencer Rock.

The Moosup River At Spencer Rock.

The Moosup River At Spencer Rock.

Escoheag Hill – West Greenwich

  • Escoheag Hill/Pine Top
  • Hazard Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°37’2.58″N, 71°46’51.15″W
  • First Time Hiked: May 10, 2015
  • Last Time Hiked: September 28, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.5 miles
  • Moderate with some significant elevation.

In the northwestern part on the Arcadia Wildlife Management is Escoheag Hill. The hill overlooks the valley that the Falls River runs through and once was the home to the Pine Top Ski Area. This hike will take you through the former ski area, over Escoheag Hill, then along part of the Tippecansett Trail, a stop at Stepstone Falls and finally along the base of the hill along the North South Trail. We started this hike from the gate at Hazard Road. The first part of the hike follows a sandy trail that is blazed blue. The open field that we passed through was once the parking lot for the ski area. Today nature has overtaken it with tall grass and shrubs. Following the wide main trail we soon came to a split. The blue blazed trail to the left we would return on. We choose to continue to the right. In a short distance we beared to the left onto a trail that looped back to the right. Ahead of us was one of the former ski slopes on Escoheag Hill. This area is a little confusing, GPS, a good map (I was using the Great Swamp Press map), and a compass couldn’t hurt to have. There are several trails (ski slopes) that lead to the top of the hill. For the most part they converge at the same point at the top. The trails here are also a little overgrown. We then climbed up Escoheag Hill along the former ski slope until we reached the top. Stop a few times along the way to catch your breath and to turn around and see the view. At the top of the hill you will having a sweeping view of the surrounding area. After stopping for the view we started looking for the remains of an old shed. Here a pine covered trail leads away from the ski slopes then turns slightly left. This is the main trail then continues over Escoheag Hill. There are several trails that spur off of it, however, you will want to follow the main/widest trail through this area. The trail passes some of the remains of the ski area, as well as stone walls and open fields. The trail also hugs the property line. Several houses can be seen along this stretch. Please do not cross onto their properties. This trail finally comes to Falls River Road. Here we turned left and started following the yellow blazes of the Tippecansett Trail. The blazes would lead us back into the woods for a while before bringing us out to another road. Continuing following the yellow blazes we soon came to the backpackers campsite. It was once a large shelter for hikers and campers complete with two fireplaces. Today, unfortunately, it was a pile of debris. Sometime over the winter (I was here in October of 2014), it collapsed. Southern New England did endure a rather tough winter and the shelter may have been a victim of it. From here we followed the yellow blazes to the end of the Tippecansett Trail, again at Falls River Road. At this location is one of the most beautiful spots in Rhode Island. We took a rather lengthy break here at the cascading Stepstone Falls and watched (and listened) to the water tumble over the series of short waterfalls. After our break we then began the lest leg of the hike. We started following the blue blazed North South Trail away from the bridge along Falls River Road. The trail soon turns right into the woods and follows the base of Escoheag Hill. This stretch is blazed blue the remainder of the way back to the parking area and several sections are quite muddy. Be careful of your footing along here as it is rather rocky as well. We soon came to the fork where we made our initial right turn. From here we retraced our steps back through the old parking area and out to where the car was parked. This area is open to hunting and orange is required to be worn during hunting season. We also came across snakes, toads, and chipmunks along this hike.

Trail map can be found at: Escoheag Hill.

Spring In Bloom From Escoheag Hill.

Spring In Bloom From Escoheag Hill.

Seacuncke Sanctuary – Seekonk/East Providence

Seacuncke Sanctuary is a quiet wooded parcel on the east side of Central Pond with occasional clearings of tall grass. In these small clearing you will notice some rather large ant mounds. The sanctuary itself is in Seekonk and the remainder of the land is actually in East Providence. From the small parking area by the trail head sign follow the narrow trail into the sanctuary. Stay to the left at the split and you will soon notice the first of the ant mounds. The trail to the right leads to the Seekonk Trail and you can return on this trail. After staying to the left look for a wood post on the left of the trail. That is the approximate state line. The entrance trail then comes to an end. The trail to the left dead ends at a point that is suitable for kayak or canoe launching. The trail to the right is the Seekonk Trail and follows the shore of Central Pond for about a half mile (mile out and back). The trail ends at the gully and blue trail intersection of Gammino Pond. There are also some narrower less defined trails along this stretch if you care to explore. The property is rather quiet, very peaceful, and good for bird watching.

Trail With Central Pond In The Distance.

Trail With Central Pond In The Distance.

Blackstone River North – Woonsocket/North Smithfield/Lincoln

  • Blackstone River Bikeway – North
  • Davison Avenue, Woonsocket, RI
  • Trailhead: 42° 0’2.26″N, 71°29’54.91″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 6, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.1 miles
  • Easy.

I’ve decided to walk the Blackstone River Bikeway and take in the sights along the way. I’ve broken it up into three sections, all around 3 miles in length. The route I describe will be a one way route, therefore, if you are not doing a car spot you must double the distance listed. I also decided to start in Woonsocket and work my way south for this walk. Starting from the parking area on Davison Avenue, the bike path first follows an access road to the athletic complex. Soon we were passing a soccer field and then following the bike path that lies between the Blackstone River and the Providence & Worcester railroad tracks. Along the bike path there are mile markers. The distances listed are the miles to Providence. Interesting enough there are mile markers along the railroad as well. The “P” stands for Providence and the “W” stands for Worcester. We came across some ducks and swans in some of the inlets of the river. The trees were in spring bloom and the colors were reminiscence of autumn. Next we came to a granite marker with the names of the three towns that converge here. Soon we were passing under the highway bridge that carries Route 99 over the Blackstone. From under the bridge you can get a sense of how deep the valley is here by how high the bridge is. We then came to an area along the river that had a channel next to it. This is one of the sections of what is left of the Blackstone Canal. The canal was built in the 1820’s to connect Providence and Worcester. It would remain in operation until the late 1840’s. By then the railroad had become the primary means of transportation. Most of the canal today has been filled in or is covered in thick brush. The final highlight of this portion of the walk is the Manville Dam. It was built in 1868 and a few years later a mill was built at this site. The mill at the time was the largest textile mill in the United States. We then continued passing under Manville Hill Road and making our way to the parking lot off of New River Road. A couple weeks later we would continue our walk onto the next section of the bike path.

Trail map can be found at: Blackstone River North.

Manville Dam.

Manville Dam.