Archive for October, 2016

Browning Woods Farm – South Kingstown

  • Browning Woods Farm
  • Shannock Road, South Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°24’47.16″N, 71°36’22.06″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 30, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.1 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

 

At the extreme western edge of South Kingstown lies Browning Woods Farm. This property, owned by the South Kingstown Land Trust, was part of the original Pettaquamscutt Purchase of 1657 and belonged to the Browning Family as far back as the early 1700’s. The farm was used mostly to raise animals such as sheep, cattle, and pigs. Today there is a two mile loop and a half mile access trail that winds through the property. There is quite an elevation change on the property but it is so gradual that it is almost unnoticed. The trail passes several stone walls and the Browning Homestead where there is an impressive cellar hole. There are several side trails and old woods roads that spur off the blue blazed loop trail. Be sure to stay on the well marked blue blazed trail. Along with maples and pines there are also holly trees and winterberry. Chipmunks and squirrels can be seen here as well as a variety of songbirds. This is a great hike for someone who is just getting started with local hiking as the trail is easy to follow and mostly flat.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Browning Woods Farm

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Stone Walls And Boardwalks

Sprague Hill – Glocester

  • Sprague Hill
  • Putnam Pike, Glocester, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°55’15.19″N, 71°44’17.69″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 28, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.7 miles
  • Moderate, areas can be difficult due to weather.

This three and a half mile hike explores the lesser traveled paths of two well known hiking destinations and a connecting road between them that crosses over Sprague Hill. Starting at a parking area along Putnam Pike for the Durfee Hill Management Area follow the dirt road beyond the gate. The road winds south before first coming to an area on the left with a small waterfall and some old stone work along Brandy Brook. Continuing ahead the road turns to the right. The trail to the left you will return on. At the next split the follow the road to the left and it will come to Burlingame Reservoir. There are some blazes and marks in this area presumably used by cyclists, ignore them for this hike. Next you will cross the earthen dam of the reservoir. The view of is quite nice here. The next part of this hike can be quite difficult after some rain. The unmarked but relatively defined trail turns away from the reservoir. It is a very rocky trail and after some rain can be quite wet and somewhat flooded. Take your time here and be sure to follow the trail. It soon comes to an intersection. Take a good look around and familiarize yourself with the intersection. You will be returning to this point but following a different trail out. At this point turn right and follow the trail to the southwest. This trail is actually Elbow Rock Road and it is fairly narrow, channeled in areas, and travels gradually up Sprague Hill for about a half mile. Much like the previous trail, it is quite rocky and areas and will be wet, almost stream like, after significant precipitation. The trail is also flanked by areas of mountain laurel and hemlocks. Do note that there are “No Trespassing” signs on each side of the trail after you leave the Durfee Hill Management Area. The trail itself lies within a public right of way. Be sure to stay on this trail ignoring other trails that spur off in either direction until you reach the top of the hill at a four way trail intersection with a parking area. The trail to the left is actually the end of Sprague Hill Road and the lesser known small parking area is public parking for Sprague Farm. For this hike continue straight and follow the dirt road slightly downhill. You may notice white dot blazes here. This is part of the Sprague Farm trail network. Soon on the right you will find a narrow unmarked trail that crosses over a large section of outcrop. Turn here and follow the trail that climbs the hill. This is Elbow Rock. There are no sweeping views here but be aware of the edges. The rock is rather large and looms high above the surrounding forest. From here follow the trail over the rock and to the left back down to Elbow Rock Road. Turn left and retrace your steps back up and over Sprague Hill a little over a mile to the intersection that you had familiarized yourself with. From here follow the trail mostly straight, along the main trail, as it winds to the pond. There is a large field to the right if you choose to explore it. Next the trail comes to another earthen dam and a smaller pond on the left. After heavy rains this is also a challenge as an area of the dam is slightly compromised and water flows over it into Brandy Brook. Next there is a small bridge that crosses a stonework channel. Turn right and retrace your steps back to the parking area. Hunting is allowed in these areas, be sure to wear orange during hunting season.

Trail maps can be found at: Sprague Hill

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Burlingame Reservoir

McHale – East Greenwich

  • McHale Property/East Greenwich Nature Trail
  • Avenger Drive, East Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°38’2.41″N, 71°29’6.41″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 26, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.5 miles
  • Easy.

 

Once the land of the McHale Sand And Gravel Company, this property today is home to the cross country course for the high school and is open to the general public. Opening in August of 2016 it has quickly become a favorite walking spot for locals. The path here starts at the cul-de-sac at the end of Avenger Drive just beyond the high school and athletic fields. The stone dust path first winds through a small open area before passing through a wooded area along Fry Brook. The path then comes to the loop. Two times around the loop would give you the distance required for the track team. For this hike I went around the loop once. It weaves through the property slightly up and over small hills as it passes through small fields. The path is lined with trees and small shrubs that serves as a haven for birds.

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The Path at McHale

River Bend Farm – Uxbridge

  • River Bend Farm – Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park
  • Oak Street, Uxbridge, MA
  • Trailhead: 42° 5’38.86″N, 71°37’25.49″W
  • First Time Hiked: October 22, 2016
  • Last Time Hiked: July 8, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.2 miles
  • Easy.

 

The big red barn and the wooden bridge over the canal are one of New England’s best known sights. In the barn, once part of a diary farm, is a rather impressive visitors center that has exhibits that explain the history of the area. For this hike, the second of four planned here, we followed the towpath from the covered bridge south to the Stanley Woolen Mill. The towpath follows the canal that was once used to transport goods from Worcester to Providence along the banks of the Blackstone River. Before taking this walk obtain a pamphlet (the one with the numbers in it) at the visitor center and take it with you. Along the walk you will find signposts with corresponding numbers on them. Be sure to take a peek at the river it self. This section of the towpath is a little over a mile long one way, flat, and is suitable for walkers and strollers.

 

Trail maps can be found at: River Bend Farm

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Towpath Along The Canal

Scotstun Town Forest – Glocester

  • Scotstun Town Forest
  • Chopmist Hill Road, Glocester, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°53’52.80″N, 71°40’10.36″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 21, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.5 miles
  • Fairly easy.

 

This property lies on the east shore of Smith and Sayles Reservoir. There is a short quarter mile trail that leads to the shore of the reservoir from Chopmist Hill Road. The trail head is just about opposite Hemlock Road next to utility pole number 124. The trail head is not by the sign a little further up the road, if you are not looking for it you will miss it. The trail winds through the woods canopy of pine, hemlock, and beech trees among others. The trail is not blazed but is definable enough to follow and dead ends at the reservoir. According to the trail map (which can be obtained at Glocester Town Hall) there are plans to add future trails.

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Smith And Sayles Reservoir

Wakefield Pond – Burrillville/Thompson

  • Wakefield Pond
  • Wakefield Road, Burrillville, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°58’15.94″N,71°47’51.77″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 21, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.0 miles
  • Moderate due to footing and some elevation.

 

Wakefield Pond is often overlooked as it lies between some of the more predominate recreational areas. The Buck Hill Management Area to the north, the George Washington Management Area to the south, and the Quaddick State Forest to the west often overshadow this area. The pond is flanked to the west by a Boy Scout Camp and the northeast by a couple dozen homes. This hike is an out and back that follows dirt roads. Starting from the corner of Wakefield Road where it bends onto Croff Road there is a dirt road that heads to the east. Almost immediately you will come upon a historical cemetery on the left. The road then starts to descend downhill, into Thompson, to a four way intersection. Along the way there are a few trails to the left. Notice the “No Trespassing” signs, this is the land of the Boy Scouts. When you have reached to intersection turn left. This is Wakefield Pond Road and it heads south through the Quaddick State Forest for a bit before coming to more Boy Scout property. There is a long steady stretch of uphill walking here. After the top of the hill you will see a cellar hole on the right with an old shed behind it. The road then descends downhill once again and curves to the left heading back into Burrillville after crossing Blackmore Brook. In the distance to the left you will see the stonework of the stone and earthen dam that holds the water in Wakefield Pond. There is a trail to the left that leads to a wooden bridge and dam. This is private property. Continue ahead for a view of the pond. Next there is a road to the right that leads to Peck Pond. For this hike continue straight along the road. At the one and a half mile mark, just as the pond starts to turn away from the pond, there is a nice little spot with a sweeping view of the pond. From here retrace your steps back to the beginning of the hike. The roads that you follow for this hike are rather rocky, some loose in many spots. Beware of your footing.

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Fall Colors By The Pond.

Rumford – East Providence

  • Rumford Historic Walk
  • Newman Avenue, East Providence, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°50’27.7″N 71°21’01.3″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 16, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.0 miles
  • Easy.

 

The northern end of East Providence, known as Rumford, is part Blackstone River Valley National Historic Park. In 1636 Roger Williams passed through this area before being told he was still within the boundaries of Massachusetts. He went on across the river to settle Providence. A few years later Reverend Samuel Newman settled here establishing a village that would one day become what is now known as Rumford. For this walk, park at the parking area directly across the street from the Newman Congregational Church. The building that stands today was built in 1810 and is the fourth meetinghouse built on this site. After taking a look at the structure make your way into the cemetery. The oldest grave here is from 1658, that of William Carpenter. The towns most prominent settlers are buried here and there are over 100 American Revolution veterans as well. The most recent burial occurred in 2008. If you are interested in local history spend some time here wandering around. The carvings of the colonial era graves are fascinating. At the far end of the cemetery there is an exit. When you get to the paved road turn right and follow it to Greenwood Avenue. Turn left here a follow the road for a few hundred feet to the first house on the right. This is the Phanuel Bishop House and is one of the oldest houses in the area. It was built in the 1770’s and is as old as the John Hunt House at Hunts Mills. Keep in mind that the Phanuel Bishop House is a private residence. From here turn around and follow Greenwood Avenue toward the large brick mill buildings on the right. Up until 1966 this was the home of the Rumford Chemical Works, makers of Rumford Baking Powder. Today the complex is mostly residential with some offices and restaurants. Stop at Seven Stars Bakery for a quick snack and to view the historical photos on the walls. In the courtyard behind the bakery is the bust of Benjamin Thompson, also known as Count Rumford, in which this village was named for. Returning to Newman Avenue you will pass the post office and the 1930’s fire station which is also now a private residence. The road bends to the east and soon you will be back at the parking area across from the church.

 

More information can be found at: Rumford

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Newman Church (1810)

Wahaneeta/Woody Hill – Westerly

  • Wahaneeta Preserve/Woody Hill Management Area
  • Moorehouse Road, Westerly, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°21’59.84″N, 71°45’34.04″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 14, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 5.1 miles
  • Moderate.

 

Splendid! This hike of just over five miles is on two adjacent properties. The Wahaneeta Preserve is owned by the Westerly Land Trust. It was once a girl scout camp and today is open to the public with a very well blazed network of trails. The bordering state owned Woody Hill Management Area is stunningly beautiful in its own right. The trails and dirt roads here are for the most part not blazed so using a GPS device and a reliable map are highly recommendable. For this hike, myself and fellow hiker Auntie Beak followed, for the most part, a friends track that he had done recently. Starting from the parking area off of Moorehouse Road we first followed the road up to the lodge before venturing onto the blue trail. This trail heads east following a stone wall before looping back toward the west. We then turned right at the white trail, crossed a small boardwalk before coming to a split in the trail. Here we stayed to the right following the white trail. Ahead is a sign for Shady Shelter. To the left there is a short yellow blazed trail that leads to a quite impressive overlook of a valley below. Be very cautious along the top of this ledge. From here we retraced our steps back to the white trail, turned left, and continued to follow it to the next split. Here we stayed to the right now following white blazes with a black dot. This is the perimeter trail and it follows a stone wall that serves as the property line between the preserve and land owned by the Narragansett Indian Tribe. Soon we crossed another boardwalk and passed an area of ferns before coming to a massive sweet black birch tree. The tree is a champion and there is a sign here explaining its significance. After passin the tree the trail bends to the left before coming to the next trail intersection. We turned right here at the opening in the stone wall onto an unmarked trail. At this point we were entering the Woody Hill Management Area. Next we came upon a cellar hole on the left. Opposite the cellar hole is the beginning of a blue dot blazed trail that we followed. This trail heads east first passing an old homestead. Here there is a couple cellar holes, a series of stone walls, and a well that is right along the trail. Be cautious not to fall into the well when the ground is covered by leaves or snow. Continuing along the blue dot trail we soon crossed another stream before coming to another stone wall to the right. The property on the other side is that of the Narragansett Indian Tribe once again. The next section of the trail is flanked in a ground cover known as club moss. The trail then soon comes out to a dirt road where we turned right. We then followed the stone covered dirt road for a bit soon coming to a four way intersection where we turned left onto another dirt road. We followed this road continuing straight at the next four way intersection. The road then curved to the left at the next intersection where we stayed to the left. Soon a pond becomes visible to the left. There are several narrow trails to the right. Be sure to stay on the main trail that follows the pond. We then came to an earthen dam with the pond to the left and a swamp to the right. Part of the dam appears to have been washed out and this will likely be impassable during a wet or rainy season. At the time of this hike it was passable. After crossing the dam the trail turns left following the shore before turning right and into the woods once again. This part of the hike leaves the management area briefly and is actually on land owned by the Town of Westerly. The trail climbs up and over a small hill and then narrows. Staying to the left the trail then passes an arm of the pond as it approaches a large rock outcrop. The trail then turns to the left. Start looking for a stone wall. Once you pass it, turn left again. This trail will lead you to the next intersection where we turned right onto a wider trail. This trail leads you back into the management area. Stay on this trail ignoring the few narrow side trails. When we approached the next intersection we turned left. We then followed this trail for a bit until we came to the “H” intersection. Here we stayed to the right and then turned immediately left onto a fine gravel road with a stone wall along its right edge. As this road starts to turn left and uphill we turned right onto a narrower trail opposite an old maple tree. This trail is grass covered and first crosses a stream. Soon the trail is flanked on both sides with stone walls. The trail soon bends to the right and becomes significantly narrower for a few hundred feet before widening again into a wider grass lane. Soon the trail comes to a wide stone wall flanked road where we turned left. You will see a gate ahead. After passing the gate we found ourselves on Fern Road, a paved road in a residential neighborhood. We then turned left onto a trail after Blossom Court opposite pole number 52. The trail is rather narrow at first passing through areas of mountain laurel. Continuing straight we then crossed another small stream before climbing uphill a bit and passing a couple stone walls. Soon after the second wall there is a pile of quarried stones. Soon we came to the cellar hole opposite the blue dot trail once again. From here we continued straight back into the Wahaneeta Preserve. At the next intersection we continued straight on the old dirt road crossing the white trail twice. At the second crossing we turned left onto the white trail following a manmade ridge before coming to a wood bridge by the pond. Immediately after the pond the trail veers to the left passing an old fireplace before emerging into a meadow. From here several trails meet including a trail back up to the lodge and a dirt road back to the parking area. Before leaving though, we decided to follow the orange trail a few hundred feet, then right onto the yellow trail to check out an old chimney. From here we retraced our steps back to the meadow and made our way to the parking area. Both the preserve and the management area are open to hunting. Wearing orange is a must during hunting season.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Wahaneeta and Woody Hill

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Road at Woody Hill

 

Francis Carter East – Charlestown

  • Francis C. Carter Preserve – East
  • Old Mill Road, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°25’56.23″N, 71°40’8.20″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 8, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.0 miles
  • Moderate due to some elevation.

 

The Francis Carter Preserve is a hilly sprawling tract of land in Charlestown and is large enough to split into two separate hikes. The eastern half of the preserve offers trails that wind through a forest covered in blueberry and huckleberry shrubs, stone walls, outcrops, and boulders. There are two entrances to the preserve as well. For this hike, we (fellow hikers) choose to start at the larger parking area along Old Mill Road. From here we followed a dirt road just a few feet before turning right onto the yellow blazed trail. This trail traverses across the property from one parking lot to the other and it is believed to be part of the original Narragansett Trail that ran from Lantern Hill in Connecticut to Wordens Pond in South Kingstown. We followed it nearly to its end before turning left onto the red trail. Along the way we passed several stone walls, climbed up and over several small hills, while passing through a forest of beech, birch, and pines. The blue blazed trail three times comes to the yellow trail as we opted to ignore it at this point. There are also cairns along the yellow trail as well as some impressive rock outcrops. At the time of this hike we also came across a split boulder that was “dressed up” as a frog. Someone has added a couple smaller stones to give the large boulder the appearance that it had eyes and a tongue. We choose to ignore the short Split Rock Trail and then turn left shortly after onto the red trail. This trail heads north first paralleling Carolina Back Road before turning back to the west. It also climbs up and over several smalls hills as it winds through the forest. Along the red trail there is a small bench to sit for a break if you choose. You will also catch a glimpse of a pond just to the north. You may also catch a glimpse or at least hear the train come through on just the other side of the pond. At the end of the red trail we turned right onto the blue trail. Soon again you will catch another glimpse of the pond below. There are a couple unmarked spur trails that lead to the pond. At the next intersection there are two blue trails. They both lead to the yellow trail, we stayed to the right at this juncture. Soon we came to yet another intersection. An unmarked connector trail the western part of the preserve appears on the right. We continued straight following the blue blazed trail to its end. Here we turned right following the yellow blazed trail back to the dirt road. Turning left would lead us back to the parking area. Take a look around the area here. You will notice a cellar hole and an old water pump. There is also a restroom here. This preserve is open to hunting so wearing orange is a must during hunting season.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Francis Carter East

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Along the Yellow Trail

Round Top – Burrillville

  • Round Top Management Area
  • Brook Road, Burrillville, RI
  • Trailhead: 42° 0’7.11″N, 71°41’47.90″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 7, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.7 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

One of the smallest management areas in the state is mostly know for its fishing ponds. There are, however, a small network of trails on the property. For this hike I started at the parking area along Brook Road and made my way to the pond. I followed first the southern edge, then the western edge of the pond along the grassy area around the pond. Ahead is a trail that leads into the woods and comes to the next pond with a dam and waterfall. The trail then follows the edge of the pond a bit and then climbs uphill before turning to the right. From there it comes to a dirt service road with piles of sand and gravel. Follow the road and it leads you back to the parking area.

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Fall at Round Top