Archive for October, 2015

Olney Memorial Park – North Providence

  • Captain Stephen Olney Memorial Park
  • Smithfield Road, North Providence, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°51’21.07″N, 71°27’5.89″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 22, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.0 miles
  • Easy with some elevation.

Captain Stephen Olney was a soldier in the American Revolution and later a member of the Rhode Island General Assembly. He was a lifelong resident of North Providence and had built a house along Smithfield Road that still stands adjacent to this park. The park is on a piece of property that spans along a hill between Smithfield Road and High Service Avenue almost across from Fatima Hospital. The park consists of several ball fields, tennis courts, playgrounds, and a hill for sledding. There is a paved walking path that connects most of these features of the park. The walking path also passes a small pond before reaching the top of the hill. At the top of the hill there are a set of wooden stairs that lead down to a nature trail. The nature trail leads back to the walking path. Following both the walking path and nature trail will provide for a walk just under a mile. The property also features a historical cemetery in which members of the Olney family rest.

Walking Path On A Fall Day

Walking Path On A Fall Day

Breakheart Trail/Penny Hill – Exeter/West Greenwich

  • Breakheart Trail/Penny Hill – Arcadia Wildlife Management Area
  • Hicks Trail, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°35’42.83″N, 71°42’12.14″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 17, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 6.8 miles
  • Moderate, difficult in areas due to significant elevation.

The Breakheart Trail runs from Austin Farm Road at the Falls River to Breakheart Pond mostly in West Greenwich and parts of Exeter. This hike covers nearly all but the western most half mile or so. The route that we followed for this hike is the one in the Ken Weber “Walks and Rambles in Rhode Island” (Third Edition), however we chose to do the hike in reverse. The reasoning was a hiking club decision to eliminate the two miles of road walking first and to save the actual Breakheart Trail for the remainder of the hike. We started from the parking area by Breakheart Pond and started our two mile westward trek along Austin Farm Road. The road, at times flanked by stone walls, is a dirt road that first passes Frosty Hollow Road, then passes the Fish and Wildlife Education Offices before coming to the Flat River. On the left at the Flat River Bridge is a historical cemetery. A little further up the road there are yellow blazes on trees. These are not the blazes for the Breakheart Trail. Just after the two mile mark there is a sign to the right that reads “Hiking Only”. Just beyond that sign is the trailhead sign for the Breakheart Trail. The remainder of this hike follows the yellow blazes of the Breakheart Trail as it winds through the most secluded parts of northern Arcadia. There are some spurs and intersections along the way. Be sure to be aware of the blazes as not to take a wrong turn. The trail starts a steady and at times difficult climb up Penny Hill. This is one of the highest points in Arcadia and at one time had sweeping views of the area. The trees have now grown higher than the hill. Folklore has it being named by hikers in the 1930’s that would drop a penny in an abandoned bird nest at the top of the hill. The trail briefly splits and rejoins just to the east of the hill and then starts to descend downhill first passing the intersection for the multi-use trail before coming to the white blazed Penny Cutoff Trail on the right. Continuing straight the trail then passes through an area with several dead trees and low shrubs. At the next intersection is the white blazed Shelter Trail on the right. The Breakheart Trail then winds through some of the prettiest parts of the management area passing under a canopy of tall trees. There are a few boardwalks and the trail crosses Phillips Brook before coming to the wooden truss bridge that crosses Acid Factory Brook. This is a good spot for a break. The brook trickles over some rocks here and you are approximately a mile from the closest public road. You will notice signs on the trees stating “No Trespassing”. This is the boundary between Arcadia and the University of Rhode Islands Alton Jones Campus. After crossing Acid Factory Brook the trail then climbs yet another hill. This stretch is quite rocky and there are plenty of boulders. Be sure to follow the yellow blazes at the intersections. When you reach to dirt road your uphill climbing is all but done. The Breakheart Trail then descends southeasterly downhill soon coming to a brook on the left. At the next intersection we turned left following the yellow blazes over a wooden bridge at the extreme northern end of Breakheart Pond. After a short uphill section, the yellow blazes turn to the right and follow a trail along the eastern side of the pond passing a small stream and waterfall. Shortly after that is a cellar hole on the right. Finally there is a sweeping view of Breakheart Pond with its dam and waterfall before concluding the hike at the parking area. Hunting is allowed here. We ran into several hunters along this hike, particularly in the parking areas along Austin Farm Road. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.

Trail maps can be found at: Breakheart Trail and Penny Hill

Along the Breakheart Trail

Along the Breakheart Trail

Peak Foliage at Breakheart Pond

Peak Foliage at Breakheart Pond

Arcadia Central – Exeter

  • Arcadia Central – Arcadia Wildlife Management Area
  • Ten Rod Road, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°34’36.49″N, 71°42’13.13″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 12, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.8 miles
  • Moderate with some elevation.

This hike in the central part of the Arcadia Management Area covers portions of some of the most popular trails on the property as well as some of the least traveled. It also features several points of interests if you looking for ponds, rivers, and brooks. Many portions of this hike are on trails that are not blazed and it would be suggestible to obtain a copy of the Great Swamp Press map of the property before embarking on this hike. We started this hike from the small parking area at Appie Crossing where the Arcadia and Mount Tom trails begin. From the parking area we crossed the very busy Route 165 and walked easterly about 300 feet to the entrance of the John B. Hudson Trail. This trail, yellow blazed, starts to climb uphill for a bit as it passes under a canopy of the thick forest. About three tenths of a mile from the John B. Hudson trail head is a spur trail on the left. We turned here briefly to explore the remains of a fire tower that once stood here and then continued along the yellow blazed trail. The trail starts to pass through areas of mountain laurel , a stone wall, to the next highlight of this trail on the right. It is a historical cemetery, the final resting place of the Wilcox family. Just beyond the cemetery we then crossed the Tripp Trail continuing to follow the yellow blazes. A couple of hundred feet ahead is a trail intersection with a wooden fence that serves as a gate. The trail to the right is the continuation of the yellow blazed, east branch of the John B. Hudson Trail. The trail ahead is the white blazed, west branch of the John B. Hudson Trail. We turned onto the trail to the left, the beginning of the Shelter Trail, also blazed white. This trail led us downhill through some more areas of mountain laurel. Soon we were hearing the trickle of the Breakheart Brook to the right. The trail then came to Frosty Hollow Pond, a well known fishing hole in the management area. At the time of this hike the pond was nearly empty of water as this area has been experiencing drought conditions. Next we started following the dirt road, Frosty Hollow Road, south for about two tenths of a mile until we reached the Deion Trail on the right where we turned. This trail is not blazed and used mostly by horse back riders. We followed this trail to its end and then turned right onto a dirt road, the Midway Trail. You will notice blue blazes along the Midway Trail as it is part of the North South Trail. It is also a road that is used by vehicles. The road soon crosses the Flat River and then comes to an observation deck on the left at the Falls River. After the deck we turned left over the river and approached a gate. The dirt road, with the blue blazes, turns to the right. We continued straight passing the gate. Almost immediately after the gate the old roadway splits. You have an option as to which way to go as these two roads run parallel for a few hundred feet and then rejoin. This stretch of roadway is actually part of Old Ten Rod Road. After the roads rejoin, we then turned left onto another dirt road that led us southerly. This road passes a small area that resembles a desert. Continue straight through this area avoiding turns to other roads or side trails. If you went straight you should have come out to Route 165 opposite Mount Tom Road. We then crossed the highway, onto Mount Tom Road very briefly, and turned left onto a road that led us to the Arcadia Hunter Check Station. Here we took the opportunity to take a break before tackling the last leg of the hike. The remainder of the hike becomes much easier navigation wise as it follows the eastern most portion of the Mount Tom Trail to its end. The terrain, however, can be a bit moderate as the trail climbs a couple hills. After a short break we then crossed a newly built bridge that crosses the Wood River. Across the parking area is a white blaze on a tree. The trail enters an area of tall pines, crosses a small stream, and then rapidly climbs uphill before coming to Summit Road. Continuing straight across the road, the Mount Tom Trail climbs up hill again and comes to the seven trail intersection. The Dove Crest Trail is immediately to the right and is not blazed. The blue blazed Bald Hill/North South Trail crosses the intersection. An unnamed trail is ahead to the right. The remainder of the white blazed Mount Tom Trail, which we would follow, is ahead. The trail then passes through an area strewn with boulders and ferns before coming to the trail intersection. At this intersection the Arcadia Trail is to the right, we turned left, and followed the remainder of the white blazed trail. After crossing a small brook, the trail climbs slightly uphill, flanked by stone walls, back to the parking area at Appie Crossing. This entire hike is on property where hunting is allowed. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.

Along Frosty Hollow Road

Along Frosty Hollow Road

Mount Tom – Exeter

  • Mount Tom
  • Ten Rod Road, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°34’22.15″N, 71°43’17.90″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 5, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 5.2 miles
  • Moderate to difficult due to elevation.

Not quite a mountain, but the aptly named Mount Tom at times felt like climbing a mountain. Definitely a challenge because of the changes in elevations, this hike though leads through some of the nicest sections of the Arcadia Management Area as well as some of the most unique. The route chosen for this hike also will take you along one of the most traveled trails as well as some of the lesser known. We started from the Hunters Check Station along Route 165 in Exeter and started at the trail head that is marked by a Mount Tom Trail sign. The trail, blazed white, first follows an old road through an area of new growth white pine among the older taller trees. About a decade ago there was a rather significant fire here and the forest today is coming back to life. Following the white blazes we first crossed the Blitzkrieg Trail, turned left for a short distance, and then back right onto the white blazed trail. Along this stretch on the left in Parris Brook. The brook flows over some rocks creating small cascades in areas. There are some spots to get down to the brook to take photos. Continuing to follow the trail, we then crossed Mount Tom Road and started the first of the uphill climbs that leads to the ledges of Mount Tom. This stretch of trail follows rock outcrops, and ledges as it meanders up and down and over and around boulders before reaching the areas near the top with some outlooks. The outlooks here are now slightly overgrown as trees have grown taller, but there still some spots to sneak a peek. One of the more interesting features of this hike is just ahead. When you reach them, stop and take a break. They are the Mount Tom Chairs, a cluster of stones set up as chairs, arm rests and all. After a short break, we continued along the Mount Tom Trail and then crossed Route 165. Be sure to cross near the crest of the hill for the safest line of sight. Vehicles tend to travel quite fast here. After crossing the highway, we started another uphill climb while continuing to follow the white blazes. The trail does eventually level out as it enters an area of low shrubs among the tall trees. Ahead is the intersection of Old Ten Rod Road, essentially a backwoods trail, where we turned right and then almost immediately left, continuing to follow the white blazes. This last stretch of the Mount Tom Trail actually reaches the peak of Mount Tom and passes through groves of mountain laurel. It is mostly level before it starts to descend to a five trail intersection. The intersection marks the end of the Mount Tom Trail where it comes out to Barber Road and the Escoheag Trail (also blazed white). The rest of this hike is on unblazed trails. Here we turned right onto the wide gravel road and followed it about a half mile downhill looking for a trail on the right with three large boulders at its trail head. If you start seeing the blue blazes of the North South Trail you have gone too far. At the three boulders we turned right onto the southern portion of the Sand Hill Trail. To confirm that you have taken to proper turn you should start seeing a cluster of stone walls to the left of the trail as you start another uphill climb. The Sand Hill Trail climbs back up Mount Tom traversing through another area of low shrubs with tall trees. It is actually quite a pretty stretch, again with large clusters of mountain laurel. The trail then reaches Old Ten Rod Road once more. There is a sign to the right on a tree that calls off the Sand Hill Trail, and a stone wall ahead to the right to use as a reference points for the intersection. At this intersection turn left onto Old Ten Rod Road and follow it as it winds towards an area of ledges on the right. In front of the ledges is a massive stone pile that looks as if it might have been part of some quarrying back in the day. It’s all downhill from here, as the trail then bends to the left and comes to an area that is being used for a gravel operation. If there are construction vehicles here, proceed with caution. Continuing straight pass the gravel pit the road continues downhill to an intersection. Turn right here and then continue straight the remainder of the way to Route 165 ignoring all the side trails and spurs. Along this stretch you will also come upon a large area of sand that looks like a miniature desert. If you continued straight, you will come out to Route 165 directly across from Mount Tom Road. Cross the highway and almost immediately on the left along Mount Tom Road is a less traveled road that leads back to the Hunters Check Station where the hike began. Wearing orange is necessary during hunting season for this hike.

Trail map can be found at: Mount Tom.

White Blazed Mount Tom Trail Through "The Ledges"

White Blazed Mount Tom Trail Through “The Ledges”

Foliage Along Old Ten Rod Road

Foliage Along Old Ten Rod Road

Dame Farm – Johnston

  • Dame Farm – Snake Den State Park
  • Brown Avenue, Johnston, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°50’39.92″N, 71°32’31.60″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 3, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.3 miles
  • Fairly easy.

The history of this property dates back to the before the American Revolution when the Onley family ran the farm here. In the 1780’s the farm was sold to the Steere family, then in the 1890’s the farm was sold to the Dame Family. This portion of their farm was acquired by the State of Rhode Island in 1969 and soon after was placed of the National Register of Historical Places. The remainder of Dame Farm is across the street and still very active, especially during apple picking season. Today, this part of Dame Farm, now known as Snake Den Farm, is managed by the Northern Rhode Island Conservation District. The farm is made up of a farm house, a sprawling barn, two silos, and a couple other smaller structures. There is evidence that the farmhouse that is here may date back to 1767. The farm is active still with fields being leased to local farmers. One farmer has re-located his business to here from Virginia to grow tulips. They are expecting a field full of tulips next spring as they plan on planting nearly 300,000 bulbs this fall. Today’s walk was led by a member of the farms staff. The event was sponsored by the Rhode Island Land Trust as well as the Northwest Rhode Island Supporters of Open Space who have volunteered several hours clearing the current trail system. Today was also the grand opening of the new trail system here at Snake Den. At the entrance to the parking area is an old sign stating “State Property Keep Out”, ignore this sign, it will be removed soon now that the property is open to the public. At the parking lot is a kiosk with a copy of the trail map. Beyond the parking area is the large grey barn and just beyond it is a farm road. We followed this road, first taking a slight detour to the left to view an old cemetery. Continuing to follow the road we were soon bearing to the left following the edge of a field by the pond before turning right onto a wooded trail which is part of the Pond Loop Trail. This trail crossed a stream and climbed slightly uphill a bit before coming to another field. Turning right here we followed the path along the tree line, first passing an area of milkweed and then the pond once again. Next we turned left onto a narrow path, known as the Woods Trail, that ironically led into the woods. You will notice signs along the way with numbers on them. These are the trail markers that will lead you back to the farm. The rest of Snake Den is notoriously known for its miles of wandering mazes of trails. Be sure to follow the signs with the numbers and not any other faded, older blazes. The Woods Trail leads up and over a hill passing several rock outcrops, boulders, and a stone wall before coming to its end back at the farms barnyard. There is a museum here as well. If it is open it is worth checking out. Hunting is not allowed at the farm, however it is allowed in the remainder of Snake Den. Wearing orange during hunting season is recommended.

The Barn and Silos at the Farm.

The Barn and Silos at the Farm.