Archive for March, 2017

Blackall Preserve – Cumberland

  • Blackall Preserve/Ballou Farm Preserve
  • Old West Wrentham Road, Cumberland, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°59’18.1″N, 71°27’39.8″W
  • First Time Hiked: March 23, 2017
  • Last Time Hiked: April 29, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.0 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

The Blackall and Ballou Farm Preserves offer trails that wind around the property passing impressive stone walls from yesteryear. There are two main loops, blazed yellow and blue, connected by a red blazed trail. There are also two white trails that lead to other entrances. The blue loop is accessed from the main entrance. The trails wind up and down several hills while traversing under a canopy mostly of oak and maple with an occasional beech, pine, and birch. There is a small pond on the western edge of the preserve as well. The trails are easy to follow and are well defined. At the northern reaches of the property the yellow trail twice crosses a babbling brook. An abundance of birds were observed here singing in the trees above at the time of this hike.

 

Trail Map: Blackall/Ballou

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Crossing a Babbling Brook

Howland Reserve – Dartmouth

 

The hardest part of Howland Reserve is finding it. The trail starts slightly set back on the east side of North Hixville Road at the clearing for a gas pipeline easement. But once you find it, you are in for a treat. This property has a small network of trails blazed red, orange, and yellow. For this hike I made a loop using a little of each trail. The trails wind through a canopy of towering pines and there is a spot to take a quick peek at the Copicut River. It is suggested to wear orange at this property as it is close to a rod and gun club. In fact the sound of gunfire is common. I came across several birds and a few ducks on this property.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Howland Reserve

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Tall Pines Along The Trail

Knowles-Padanaram – Dartmouth

  • Knowles-Padanaram Reserve
  • Smith Neck Road, Dartmouth, MA
  • Trailhead: 41°35’3.48″N, 70°57’5.26″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 20, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.0 miles
  • Easy.

 

Knowles-Padanaram is a small property that extends on each side of West Smith Neck Road. The nearly 1 mile of trails weaves through a mix of trees and shrubs and skirts a salt marsh. The property also has a trail that leads to Dike Meadow Creek and a small pond. There was an abundance of several small birds here as well as seagulls. The main entrance is closed due to bridge and causeway construction along Smith Neck Road and Gulf Road. The reserve can be accessed via West Smith Neck Road.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Knowles-Padanaram

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Salt Marsh at Knowles-Padanaram

Smith Farm – Dartmouth

 

What a pleasant surprise of a property. One must say that the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust has some beautiful properties. Just down the road from Cornell Farm is Smith Farm. In comparison the trail system at Smith Farm is much shorter than Cornell but it is well worth the visit. The front end of the property offers a series of stone walls and what appears to be foundations. Starting by following the red blazed trail, you soon enter the woods. Among the deciduous trees are several holly trees and shrubs. The red trail soon comes to a large open field with one prominent pine tree. Follow the path across the field to continue following the red blazed trail. The next section of woods offer some swamps, wetlands, and stone walls. Next follow the blue blazed trail around Horseshoe Pond. It crosses several trickling streams as it follows the ponds edge. At the time of this hike I had come across an owl and several ducks. After following the blue blazed trail around the perimeter of the pond turn left at the red blazed trail and follow it to its end. Turn left and follow the orange blazed trail to its end. There you will find an observation platform that overlooks Nonquitt Marsh. From here follow the orange blazed trail back, staying on it to the parking area. It follows an old cart path road passing several stone walls and a vernal pool.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Smith Farm

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Field at Smith Farm

McBratney – Dartmouth

 

This short out and back orange blazed trail starting near utility pole number 394-71 along Smith Neck Road offers peeks at small ponds, streams, and wetlands. The narrow trail follows a small ridge before crossing a stream. The trail ends in a blueberry patch that would be in bloom in the summer months. At the time of this hike, being early morning, I came across several white tail deer and there was an abundance of birds chirping.

 

Trail maps can be found at: McBratney

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Stream Crossing at McBratney

Blackstone River Byway – Lincoln/Cumberland

  • Blackstone River Byway
  • School Street, Lincoln, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°57’10.51″N, 71°27’9.88″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 6, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.5 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

The Blackstone River Byway is a utility road that follows the eastern shore of the Blackstone River in Cumberland just north of Albion Road. Between that road and the river is a short footpath of a trail that climbs up to an impressive outcrop of rocks that overlook the river. The trail is entirely in Cumberland but you must park at the bike path parking area just over the river in Lincoln. From the parking area follow School Street over the bridge that crosses the river. From here you will get a great view of the Albion Dam. Just after the bridge and before the gated road is a narrow footpath that heads north along the river. The path passes the dam before heading uphill to the overlook. This is a great little spot to sit and contemplate. This hike out and back (and for this hike description featuring just about all the highlights) is about a half mile. If you choose to further explore, follow any of the spur trails to the Byway road and head north. The utility road is heavily traveled by ATV’s and not so much utilized by hikers. The road follows a buried petroleum pipeline for a distance before pipeline crosses the river. You will see a clearing on the left with a sign down below warning of the pipeline crossing the river. A hike to this point (and back to the parking area) is just about 2 miles. If you care do a loop of 4 miles, a fellow hiker recently explored this option. You can do so by continuing along the dirt road after it passes the utility clearing on the left. Here is a link to her website with a description and a map.

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Sunset Along The Blackstone From The Overlook.

Pawaget Park – Charlestown

 

Once a driving range for practicing golfers is now a nice little pond side park just off the bustling Route 1. A half mile grass trail now winds through the area that was once the landing area for flying golf balls. Along the winding path are areas to picnic. The property also has a boardwalk and viewing deck that overlooks Ninigret Pond. A stone dust path back from the deck to the parking area makes for a shorter route back. The stone dust path, boardwalk, and deck are all ADA compliant.

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Pawaget Park

Hangman Hill – North Stonington

  • Hangman Hill Preserve
  • Hangman Hill Road, North Stonington, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°27’9.76″N, 71°51’16.13″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 4, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.5 miles
  • Easy with some elevation.

 

This preserve offers a short, blue blazed loop trail of just about a half mile that climbs up and back down a small hill. The property, directly across the street from 80 Hangman Hill Road, also has a small stream that you cross on a small boardwalk. The stone walls, however, are stunning as they wind up and down the hill. At the time of this visit it was a blistering 15 degrees in early March and there was not much to see of flora. A fellow hiker (Auntie Beak) had visited the property in the past and noted some of the springtime flora. Though short, the property would be nice to visit if in the area.

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Winding Stone Wall

Stetson Preserve – Richmond

  • Stetson Preserve
  • New London Turnpike, Richmond, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°32’56.50″N, 71°39’28.17″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 4, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.8 miles
  • Easy with some elevation.

 

Along a quieter stretch of the New London Turnpike is a quaint little preserve that offers a short trail system. Although short, this preserve is well worth a visit if you are in the area. The terrain is slightly hilly and the property is scattered with large rocks and boulders under a canopy of deciduous trees. There are two blazed trails that cover essentially all of the small property. The blue blazed trail loops around the perimeter and offers a glimpse at Beaver River. The yellow blazed out and back trail leads to a hill top with a sitting area. The rocky terrain and stone walls made the property a haven for chipmunks. Birds were also in abundance here, spotting and hearing several woodpeckers and blue jays. The property is quite comparable to the nearby Beaver River Preserve. In fact only a few hundred feet of private property separate the two properties. This hidden gem of a property is good for kids and beginners, as well as a nice supplemental walk to Beaver River. A must do!!!

 

Trail maps can be found at: Stetson Preserve

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Along the Blue Trail