Archive for May, 2016

Martin Trails – New Shoreham

 

This small but very hilly property maintained by the Block Island Conservancy at the intersection of Old Mill Road and West Side Road is perfect for a short little stroll. The trails all follow the edges of stone walls that surround four open fields. This property is a good example of how hilly Block Island really is.

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Trail Along The Stone Walls

Rodman’s Hollow – New Shoreham

 

One of the most famed spots on Block Island for hikers is Rodman’s Hollow and Rodman’s Hollow at sunrise is a spectacular place to be. Being the first to step foot into the property as the sun was rising I had the opportunity to see quite a bit of wildlife. Starting from the parking lot I made my way south following a dirt road (Black Rock Road) straight to just about the ocean passing a wooden gate with a turnstile and a metal gate, both on the left. The road winds through slight valleys with rolling hills and meadows on each side. There are also several stone walls along this stretch. It was along here I ran into a few white tailed deer. I also came across what I believe might have been pheasants or turkeys. I did not get a good look at them as they flew away after we startled each other. At the end of the road I turned left and followed it to the east. Soon there was another road to the left. I continued straight climbing slightly uphill to reach Tom’s Point. Here is a bench atop a hill that overlooks the surrounding area and ocean. Take some time to sit at and take it the almost inexplicable beauty of the coast. After taking a few moments I continued to follow the path along an open field. Soon it came to a road and I turned right. After following the road for a bit a trail appears on the left. Turn here. The trail leads you north towards the hollow. At the next intersection stay to your right and right again at the next intersection. From here the trail drops deep into the hollow. In mid-May this area is flanked by shadbush that is in full bloom. At the next trail intersection stay to the left following the Rodmans Hollow Loop. Soon you will be passing a stone wall with several of the shadbushes by it. They have a very distinct trunk. After climbing uphill a bit turn right at the next intersection. This will lead you to the turnstile. From here turn right and retrace your steps back to the car.

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Overlooking Rodmans Hollow

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Fields and Stonewalls

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The Coast Looking East From Rodmans Hollow

Block Island Southwest – New Shoreham

 

Miles from the ferry landings in town, this portion of the island is rarely visited by the everyday tourist. The two properties that make up part of this hike are in nearly pristine condition. The trailhead is unmarked and is in fact at the end of an unnamed road. Turn onto Dickens Road off of Cooneymus Road and follow it south. At the intersection Dickens Road turns to the right. There is a trail to the left. Continue straight passing a house on the right and to the top of the hill. There is just enough room for one car. Across the field to the east is an opening in the stone wall. This is the trailhead. The trail immediately climbs uphill into the Win Dodge Preserve before coming to a trail intersection at the top of the hill. Here I turned right and followed the trail as it winded back downhill. At the next two intersections I stayed to the right. Soon I came to the first of two stone walls with weathered wooden stairs over them. After the second set I turned left following Dickens Road until I reached the trailhead for the Lewis Dickens Farm property owned by the Audubon Society. From here I followed the trail as it winded through fields on rolling hills. (A local who I met compared this part of the island to that of Ireland or Newfoundland). At the end of the trail is a Memorial Rock and just beyond that a towering bluff that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Exercise extreme caution along this edge. From here I retraced my steps back to Dickens Road passing the weathered stairs over the stone wall that I had came in on. I continued to follow the road to the intersection and then continued straight onto a trail that would lead me back uphill and passing several cellar holes and foundations. At the next intersection I turned right and followed the trail back to the car.

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Dickens Trail

Mohegan Bluffs – New Shoreham

 

A short, but grueling one mile walk to one of the most picturesque locations on the eastern seaboard. The bluffs here are where the glaciers ended craving out these 180 foot drops to the beach below. A top the bluffs is the historic Southeast Light built in 1873. The bluffs got there name from a 16th century Native American battle in which a tribe of Manisseans (locals) drove an invading force of 40 Mohegans over the bluffs to their deaths. This is not an easy trek. Starting from the parking area at Payne Overlook, I followed the short path that leads to the stairs. I then followed the approximately 150 stairs down to a viewing platform about 3/4 of the way down the bluffs. From here I scaled down the steep incline to the beach. From this vantage point the bluffs are amazingly massive. I walked the beach in each direction for a bit before returning back up the base of the bluff and stairs. From here I walked back to the parking area and out to the road. Turning right I followed the road several hundred feet to the entrance of the lighthouse grounds. I wandered around the grounds briefly, taking several photos of the historic light, before returning back to the car parked back at Payne Overlook. Though a short walk/hike, it is without a doubt a must see.

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Mohegan Bluffs, showing the Payne Overlook Stairs and the Southeast Light. (Note the people on the beach for perspective)

Meadow Hill – New Shoreham

This short four tenths of a mile trail arches around the base of Meadow Hill. The trail runs from a marker along Old Town Road to that roads intersection with Connecticut Avenue. Though disconnected from the main portions of the Block Island Greenway, it is generally considered part of it.

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Along The Meadow Hill Greenway

Dunn’s Bridge Path – New Shoreham

This short grass mowed trail system off of Beach Avenue follows the perimeter of a small field that overlooks a cove south of Great Salt Pond. The signage at the trail head read “Beach Ave. Trails”. The book “On This Island” refers to the property as the Dunn’s Bridge Path.

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Dunn’s Bridge Path

Andy’s Way – New Shoreham

At the end of Andy’s Way is a small parking area. Just beyond the parking area is a path that leads to a public beach on the northeast shore of The Great Salt Pond. The beach is short but very picturesque nonetheless. It is a good spot for bird watching and photography.

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Beach at Andy’s Way.

Block Island North – New Shoreham

 

Block Island is 14 miles off the Rhode Island mainland coast. It is a bustling resort town in the summer months and host to only about 1000 folks during the brutal New England winters. New Shoreham (the one and only town on the island) is in fact the smallest town in Rhode Island by both area and “year round” population. Conservation on the island has been outstanding. Over 43% of the island is under some sort of conservation protection by several different organizations. For this hike, I covered a large portion of the northern end of the island. Parking at the Hodge Family Wildlife Preserve entrance, I first made my way toward Middle Pond following the main trail in the Hodge Preserve. The trail is grass mowed that traverses up and over several rolling hills of meadows before ending at the shore of Middle Pond. Along the trail there are sweeping views over the pond and Block Island Sound including the North Light at the tip of the island. From here I retraced my steps back to the parking area opting to follow the spur loop trails. Once back out to Corn Neck Road I turned right and followed the road south until I came to Clay Head Trail (just after the red house, number 728). The road, marked with a post, is a dirt road that leads to the parking area for the Clay Head Nature Trail. There are several private roads off of this road. Be sure to continue straight until you reach the trail head. From here the trail winds narrowly over meadow covered hills and wooded areas before reaching boardwalks near the Clay Head Swamp on the right. Shortly after the swamp the trail turns abruptly to the left and starts to climb upward, but first check out the beach and the massive clay bluffs. Continuing the trail climbs uphill and parallels the bluffs occasionally popping out to the edge. Exercise extreme caution along the edges. The views of Block Island Sound are quite impressive from the top of the bluffs. The trail passes through areas of shrubs and trees, with an abundance of birds, passing two small ponds to the left. There are also several spur trails to the left that lead into “The Maze”. If you opt to explore be sure to have a GPS device with you. For this hike, I followed the Clay Head Trail to its end. At the four way intersection, continue straight. Shortly thereafter the trail comes to a dirt road. Following the road to north you soon come to an intersection, turn left here and follow the road out to the paved Corn Neck Road. Turning right I followed the road to its end at Settlers Rock passing Sachem Pond on the left. The rock is a memorial to the original settlers and purchasers of the island back in 1661. From here the walking gets tough. If the hills of Clay Head have not already done a number on your muscles, the sands of the beach will. From Settlers Rock to the iconic North Light and back is all beach walking in soft sand through the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge. It is well worth the walk though. The light, built in 1867, is now owned by the town and is home to a museum (open seasonably). At the time of this hike I came upon several nesting seagulls. After spending a little time here I made my way back to Settlers Rock and then southerly along Corn Neck Road. On the left at a stone wall you will see a set of wooden stairs. If you opt to, this is the Atwood Overlook. From the top of the hill you can look back towards the North Light. A little further up the road on the right is the Labyrinth, again the entrance is a set of wood stairs over a stone wall. This unique spot is a somewhat spiral path, similar to a maze, but with no dead ends, that leads to the center. It is said to be sacred. After spending a few moments here, I made my way back to the road continuing south back to the Hodge Preserve parking area. I came across an abundance of birds along this 6 mile trek and ran into a few fellow hikers.

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Meadow at Hodge Preserve

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Clay Head Bluffs

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Block Island North Light

Kenyon Crossroads – Hopkinton

  • Kenyon Crossroads
  • Collins Road, Hopkinton, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°26’34.81″N, 71°45’40.66″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 5, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.5 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

 

This Hopkinton Land Trust property offers a variety of trails. Starting from the parking area follow the white blazes on a trail that meanders through pines and boulders. At the end of the trail there is an old road. Turn left here, it will lead you to an open area known as Four Corners. There is a large tree and a cellar hole here. Turn right (to the north) and follow the Tomaquag Trail along a driftway. After passing the gate you will see a “Hopkinton Land Trust” sign facing the other direction of a tree. Look for the yellow blazed Beaver Flood Trail to the right. This trail will lead you through some low lying areas before climbing uphill and coming to the old road. Turn right and look for the white blazed trail now on the left. Turn here and retrace your steps back to the car.

Trail maps can be found at: Kenyon Crossroads

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Along The Beaver Flood Trail

Eppley Refuge – South Kingstown

  • Marion Eppley Wildlife Refuge
  • Dugway Bridge Road, South Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°31’16.37″N, 71°35’17.93″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 5, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.5 miles
  • Easy.

 

The Eppley Wildlife Refuge is one of the Audubons largest properties and it is almost untouched. There is good reason for that. The property is not open to the public except for special events and programs. For a list of scheduled events go to the Audubons website and search their calendar. The property offers two loop trails trails, one blazed red, the other blue. After crossing the Queens River on an old rickety bridge the trails wind through areas of tall pines. There is a small unnamed pond along the red trail as well. For this visit I had joined a bird watching group. A list of birds seen or heard on this hike included: white breasted nuthatch, blackpool, northern water thrush, blue jay, sparrow, barn swallow, chickadee, oven bird, mourning dove, pine warbler, and yellow warbler. Great horned and barred owls are also known to be on the property. Please do not visit this property without joining an event.

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Bridge Across The Queens River