Archive for November, 2017

Gungywamp – Groton

  • Gungywamp
  • Groton, CT
  • Trailhead: Undisclosed
  • Last Time Hiked: November 26, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.4 miles
  • Fairly easy guided hike, some hills.

 

This 250 acre, State of Connecticut owned and protected property, is the home of some of the most mysterious structures in New England. Speculations have for years been made about the origins of the structures. Some are believed to be colonial, some Native American, or very early European such as the Irish. The property is lined with ridges that were forged by the glaciers and there are countless large stones and boulders as well as occasional seasonal waterfalls. The ridges, with nearby swamps and ponds, make for a natural limited access to Gungywamp. This land is believed to be sacred land of the Native Americans and was clear like a prairie. Buffalo, caribou, and cougars were known to be in these parts long before European settlement. There are several sites of interest including a few small chambers with all that is remaining are the side walls and large triangular stones. These chambers have direct sight lines to one another. In one such chamber a Dutch colonial pipe was found. There are also the remains of a colonial house with a fireplace. Old property records indicate that Hannah Adams once owned the property. Coins from the 1740’s have been found on this site. There are the remains of an animal pen nearby built on a steep slope possibly used to pen sheep or goats. The really interesting structures are grouped together. A chamber, complete intact with roof, has construction that is similar to early Irish construction. This sparks the question of whether St. Brendan (484-577 A.D.) had made it to North America. Inscriptions of a Chi-rho, an ancient Christianity symbol, have been found on the property also leading to speculation of very early European exploration of the area. There is a calendar chamber nearby. The largest of the chambers, it has a small opening on the back side that allows the western sun into the chamber. On the equinoxes the beam of light illuminates a 6 x 6 foot side chamber. The use or meaning of the side chamber is unknown. Upon a nearby hill is a double row of circular stones. It is similar in ways to the way Stonehenge is set up. There are several speculations of its use. Maybe a fire pit where the Native Americans held council. Possibly a calendar of some sort. Grinding stones have been speculated. If you look at it closely, you can make out the shape of a turtle. A turtle was used quite predominantly as a symbol by local tribes such as the Pequots, Mohegans, and Nehantics. In 1647, John Winthrop, an English settler, reported a fortification near Pequot, therefore predating the colonists. A little further into the woods there is a row of standing stones. They are mostly triangular in shape with the points to the sky. The alignment is due North South. One of the stones has a pictograph of what looks like a raven. Just beyond that site are the cursing stones. It is two large boulders with several smaller stones placed upon them. It is possible that the stones were set as a curse against ones neighbor. The Native Americans were known to place stones in a pile before battle then removing the stone after battle. The stones of the soldiers who did not returned remained. It is also possible that the pile serves as a cairn for directional purposes as it lines up perfectly with a nearby ridge. Further into the woods is another fairly large foundation remnant. There are also smaller foundations in the area indicating that there was possibly a village here. The property is very intriguing and holds a very historical place among the woods of New England, mostly because of its mysterious beginnings and of its age. Therefore the property is not open to the general public unless led on a guided hike. The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center gives tours occasionally or by appointment.

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Circle of Stones

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Calendar Chamber (Note the light on the floor of the chamber)

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Pocasset Ridge – Tiverton

  • Pocasset Ridge Conservation Area
  • Main Road, Tiverton, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°36’3.32″N, 71°11’40.09″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 5, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.2 miles
  • Moderate, some hills.

 

Being offered as a “wildland” that is open to the public, the Nature Conservancy and the Tiverton Land Trust has recently opened one of the newest trail systems in the State. The entrance is just beyond a garage off of Main Road. The trail follows a stone wall to a large kiosk. At the kiosk the trail turns to the left through the wall and immediately right continuing to follow the tall stone wall before bearing to the north. The trail then follows the back property lines of the neighbors for several hundred feet, passing some puddingstone boulders, before turning abruptly to the right. From here the trail follows an old cart path into the heart of the property first passing a small swampy area and over some small boardwalks. The trail soon starts its long gradual climb uphill before coming to the first trail split. The trail intersection is well signed. Stay to the left here to do the loop trail. The route retraces old trails and a link connects them to provide a loop trail in the back parts of the preserve. This loop climbs some of the higher elevations of the property. There is also an abundance of boulders along the loop. Being new, the trail is still rather primitive. It is blazed with white diamonds featuring an owl on it. Be sure to follow the blazes to stay on the trail. After completing the loop trail retrace your steps back to the first trail intersection. From here follow the Cliff Trail. It is blazed the same as the Loop Trail (white diamonds with owls). This trail winds southerly passing a small stream, dipping into a valley, and then up to a large rock outcrop that overlooks to the west. Be weary of the edge as the opposite side is a nearly straight drop down of 50 feet or more. From here retrace your steps back to the trail intersection and then down the trail you came in on. Be sure to remember to turn to the left near the neighboring properties and follow the trail to the parking area. Hunting is allowed on this property. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.

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Along The Loop Trail

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