Archive for October, 2017

Hell’s Half Acre – West Greenwich

  • Hell’s Half Acre – Big River Management Area
  • Congdon Mill Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°36’42.98″N, 71°37’20.15″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 29, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.3 miles
  • Moderate, some hills, can be difficult to navigate.

 

The New London Turnpike was once the main thoroughfare between Providence and New London. The road, nearly straight for miles, was scattered with small villages along its route. At the intersection of Congdon Mill Road was one of these small villages. As railroads and public roads were built, the once very heavily traveled toll road became nearly obsolete. Now off the beaten path, this one in particular village became a haven for gambling, prostitution, and an occasional murder earning its name Hell’s Half Acre. Today nothing remains of it except an old cellar hole here and there, if you can find them in the growth of young pine trees. For this hike, covering a large portion of the southern parts of the Big River Management Area, we started at the parking area along Congdon Mill Road just east of the Congdon River. The old dirt road leaves the parking area in a northeasterly direction. Immediately we saw a great blue heron fly overhead as we were starting our hike. After going downhill a bit the road splits. Here we turned right following a rocky trail uphill. Soon there is a spur trail to the left that leads downhill to a small pond. We checked it out and then returned to the trail we were on, continuing uphill, soon overlooking valleys below. Along the way you will come to a property marker to your left. It appears to read “RA 1885”. Ahead is a dip in the trail as it descends quickly down before climbing rapidly back uphill. There is a split in the trail here as well. Stay to the left and at the top of the hill turn to the left following the most defined trail. You will soon come to a “faint” trail intersection. Continue to follow the well defined trail here. A little further ahead is yet another trail intersection. Turn left here and stay to the left as the path widens into another well defined trail. The hardest part of the navigation is now behind you. If you have taken all the proper turns you will soon be following the top of a hill with a deep valley to your left. It was around this area we caught a glimpse of a deer leaping through the woods. At the next trail intersection we stayed to the right making our way to another intersection where we stayed to the left as the trail descends downhill towards  Hells Half Acre. You will notice that the forest floor is now covered with a dense growth of young pines. When you approach the next intersection stay to the left again. Here the trail loops near the intersection. The growth of the pine trees covers what cellar holes may be here. There is no evidence of the village whatsoever along the trail. But when the late October wind kicked up every so gently, we could here the laughter of young women, drunk men, and a tavern piano playing. The trail then winds to the north soon crossing a rickety old bridge that spans a small brook. The trail then comes to another intersection. Look over your left shoulder, there should be a sign that says “Buck Run”. At the intersection stay to the left. Ahead, and unfortunely, there is evidence of humans. There is a small section of trail that is littered with trash from yesteryear. The remainder of this trail offers stone walls and an occasional boulder. Continue straight passing a trail coming in from the right and a trail that is on the left. Soon you will come to a intersection of old dirt roads. Turn left here, onto Sweet Sawmill Road, a well defined trail that you will follow straight back to the parking area. The old dirt road soon becomes flanked by stone walls and passes open fields where pheasant hunters can be found. Continuing straight you will pass an old wooden “Regulations” sign and cross a small stream once again before ending the hike at the parking area. Big River is notoriously known for its web and mazes of unmarked trails. It is highly recommended to not only obtain a map of the property but use a GPS tracking device while hiking here. This hike is fairly easy with some hills, but navigation can be difficult and one could easily get lost here. Also, this area is used by hunters. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.

 

Map can be found at: Hell’s Half Acre (courtesy of Auntie Beak).

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Pine Grove by Hell’s Half Acre

 

Richardson Preserve – Attleboro

  • Deborah and Roger Richardson Nature Preserve
  • Wilmarth Street, Attleboro, MA
  • Trailhead: 41°55’21.41″N, 71°14’7.69″W
  • First Time Hiked: October 27, 2017
  • Last Time Hiked: June 22, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.0 miles
  • Fairly easy.

 

At the small parking area off of Wilmarth Road,  there is an old eighteenth century home upon a small hill with a large outcrop of ledge to the front left of the house. A new and welcoming sign for the preserve is just behind the house. Trails here are newly marked offering the blue blazed and main loop trail named the Charlie Wyman Trail. There is also a red blazed Vernal Pool spur trail. The trails pass through fields, forests, and swamps here The fields, being utilized as meadows to attract various insects and butterflies are fairly large and surrounded by a canvass of tall trees. There is a large assortment of trees on the property including maples, pines, oaks, holly, and sassafras to name a few. Two new boardwalks have been built here crossing part of Chartley Brook and a red maple swamp. This trail circles back toward the house back to area that has gardens that offer peony, milkweed, day lilies, and Siberian iris. The entire trail system is just about a mile.

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Fall Field at Richardson Preserve

Bungay River – Attleboro

 

From a small parking area along Holden Street on the west bank of the Bungay River, a tributary of the Ten Mile River, you can find a trail that leads into the conservation area. The trail-head, slightly overgrown, is to the left side of the parking area. The trail leads to the north first passing an old hydrant by a brick building before coming to a set of power lines. Staying to the right, the trail leads into a heavily wooded area. The trail at this point is well defined and wide before coming to narrower trails ahead. The narrower trails look almost as if they are deer paths at times continue further into the property to the east and north. Doing a little exploring, one can get up to a mile or more here. The property offers a variety of trees including pines, oaks, and beech. To view the river itself, follow the short path from the parking area to the canoe launch.

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Trail at the Bungay River Conservation Area

Lincoln Greenway – Lincoln

  • Lincoln Greenway
  • Great Road, Lincoln, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°54’11.48″N, 71°25’14.09″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 14, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.8 miles
  • Fairly easy with some steep hills.

 

The Lincoln Greenway connects three town properties, Chase Farm, Lonsdale Park, and Gateway Park. The blazing system of red squares (to Gateway Park), yellow triangles (to Chase Farm), and green circles (to Lonsdale Park) is simple to follow. For this hike, led for the Blackstone Heritage Corridor, we started at Gateway Park by the historic Arnold House. After a short loop within Gateway Park on the paved paths we made our way to the northwestern corner of the park to the yellow blazed trail that leads up a steep hill. The trail soon comes to a residential neighborhood where we crossed a street. From here we continued along the trail on the opposite side of the road. The Greenway now enters into Lonsdale Park which is a wooded area behind the Lonsdale School. Continuing to follow the yellow blazes we soon came out the open fields of Chase Farm. We turned to the left and follow the perimeter of the farm following a grass mowed path. It soon came to a pond which we made our way around before turning to the left and then right following the perimeter of a large field once again. Soon we were back at the trail that leads back into Lonsdale Park. From here we retraced our steps back to Gateway Park this time following the red blazes.

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Along The Lincoln Greenway

Crandall Preserve – Westerly

  • Crandall Family Preserve
  • Westerly, RI
  • Trailhead: Undisclosed
  • Last Time Hiked: October 5, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.5 miles
  • Fairly easy.

 

The Crandall Family Preserve is a Westerly Land Trust property that is only open to the public during guided hikes/tours, mostly because of the sensitivity of the land in the area.  Seeing an announcement for an event, I joined them for a full moon hike. The property offers a network of blazed trails, blazed yellow and red, that wind through a forest of pines and beech trees. There is an abundance of rhododendron and mountain laurel on the property. Crandall also offers the ruins of an old sawmill and an area known as Wolf Island. Hunting is allowed on this property. Blazed orange is required during hunting season. For more info about hiking here contact the Westerly Land Trust.

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Red Blaze and Signage.