Archive for the ‘ **BEST OF TRAILS AND WALKS** ’ Category

Mercy Woods – Cumberland

 

The Town of Cumberland recently purchased 229 of the 243 acres of the Sisters of Mercy property for conservation and passive recreation. With the help of the Cumberland Land Trust, the Rhode Island Land Trust Council, and volunteers, Mercy Woods has become not only one of the newest trail systems, but handily one of the most beautiful in Rhode Island. The nearly six miles of trails are well blazed and mapped. For this hike, I led a group, following the Perimeter Walk, from the Sumner Brown Road parking area just off of Route 121. We crossed the road to follow the yellow blazed Mercy Loop. After crossing a field and passing a gate we were onto the trail. The trail winds pass the red blaze trail and turns to the east where it intersects with the blue blazed Ridge Trail. Look towards the right here just before the blue trail. Up on the hill is a pile of rocks, possibly a cairn or an impressive “balance artwork”. Following the blue blazes of the aptly named Ridge Trail for the next two miles leads you up and down some impressive hills, crossing a few streams, passing several stone walls, winding by large boulders and outcrops, along a ridge, and through a forest floor of ferns. The trail intersects with four red blazed trails (Stone Wall, Fisher, Fern, and Fiske) and crosses Sumner Brown Road. For this hike, we followed the blue blazes to their terminus at the Mercy Loop. The Warner Trail also joins the Ridge Trail for a bit. You will see a few white circle blazes along the way marking the long distance trail. When we reached the yellow blazes once again we turned left. Keep an eye out for the blazes as there are two trails to the left (one being not blazed). The remainder of the hike winds through the woods at the southern end of the property, passing through an open field, by power lines, then crosses Highland View Road before the final stretch that leads you back to the parking area.

 

Map can be found at: Mercy Woods.

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Along The Mercy Loop

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Big Lakes Trail – Providence

  • Big Lakes Trail – Roger Williams Park
  • Cladrashs Avenue, Providence, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°47’3.52″N, 71°24’44.76″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 24, 2019
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.6 miles
  • Easy.

 

The longest of the five marked trails at Roger Williams Park winds around the parks large lakes offering several nice views and plenty of opportunities to see birds. Being a loop you can start almost anywhere, but for this walk we started at the boathouse. The trail is well marked with white diamonds painted on sidewalks where posts are not available. From the boathouse, head east (away from the carousel), and cross the street at a crosswalk. The trail enters a wooded section along Cunliff Lake winding up and over a small hill before coming to the Temple to Music. This structure was built in 1924 and hosts concerts as well as other events. Continuing to follow the white blazes leads to a 600 foot section of road walking before the trail turns left into the woods and joins the yellow blazed Temple View Trail. The white blazed trail soon bears to the right and up hill coming to the back side of a baseball field, then left into the woods again before re-emerging to a grassy area at the southern end of the park. From here the trail swings around Elm Lake and begins to head north. This long stretch now follows the shores of Elm Lake, Cunliff Lake once again, and Edgewood Lake before coming to another road crossing.  After crossing the road the trail then hugs the shore of Pleasure Lake before coming to a pedestrian bridge that leads you back to the boathouse. The lakes are home to swans, geese, herons, egrets, and ducks. Several songbirds also dwell in the shrubs and bushes nearby. Turtles can be seen here as well, likely sunbathing on small fallen trees and branches stretching into the lakes. The shores are also usually occupied by people fishing for bass and sunfish. The park is also home to the Carousel Village and the Roger Williams Park Zoo. One could plan an entire day at the park!

 

Map can be found at: Big Lakes Trail.

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Temple To Music From The Opposite Shore.

Spruce Acres Farm – Portsmouth/Middletown

 

Straddling the town line of Portsmouth and Middletown on the west side of East Main Road is a former Christmas tree farm that has been preserved by the Aquidneck Island Land Trust. Spruce Acres Farm offers about a mile and a half of trails that meander about the property. It is the newest trail system in Rhode Island, opening to the public December of 2018. The blue blazed loop trail covers almost all of the property and is just over a mile long. From the parking area follow the red trail signs pass the private residence and barn to the next kiosk. This trail, the Gerwirz Trail, is the beginning of the blue blazed trail. Pass the gate and follow the main central trail pass an old structure, stay to the left, and pass another private residence to the right. At the next trail intersection turn right and follow the signs for the blue trail the remainder of the walk. The trail is very well marked as it winds through the old farm first on the Portsmouth side before crossing into Middletown. Among the shrubs you will occasionally catch a glimpse of an old sign here and there indicating former lots of Christmas trees. In the shrubs you will hear rustling of birds as it is a haven for all types from small songbirds to the larger hawks. Also dotting in and out of the stone walls are chipmunks and squirrels. There are some quite impressive trees on the property as well as a small pine grove. Bring a camera and take your time on this pleasant and short stroll as this is a beautiful property to enjoy.

 

Map can be found at: Spruce Acres Farm

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Along the blue trail at Spruce Acres Farm.

Prudence East – Portsmouth

  • Prudence East
  • Narragansett Avenue, Portsmouth, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°37’11.11″N, 71°18’18.54″W
  • Last Time Hiked: August 25, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 6.1 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

This hike on Prudence Island starts at the ferry dock in the small village of Homestead. It covers most of the trails around Baker Farm, a Prudence Conservancy property that is meticulously maintained by a group of volunteers known as the “Trail Gang”. Staying on the well blazed and mowed trails reduces your chances of encountering ticks which are in abundance on the island. Starting from the ferry dock, walk out to Narragansett Avenue and turn left. In a couple hundred feet turn right onto Pier Road. This paved road climbs uphill passing the historic Union Church and several homes before coming to Sunset Hill Avenue on the left. The street is marked by a white post with the respective street names engrave into it. Following Sunset Hill Avenue will lead you pass a couple more homes before a vast open area with fields on each side. Ahead you will pass through the intersection of East Lane and this will lead you to the trails. There are several signs here indicating which way to the trails. Continue ahead on the trail for a few hundred feet and you will soon come to a trail intersection marked with a diamond. Turn right here to follow the Diamond Trail to the Division Wall. The trail to the left is the Diamond Trail as well and you will return from this trail. Make note of this intersection. The trail is wide here flanked by trees, shrubs, and thickets. The rustling you may here are the birds in the thick brush. When you reach the end of the trail you will come to a dirt road. Stay to the left here and pass through the stone wall. Take a look at the historic wall. This wall, running from Division Rock along the west coast of the island to Governor Payne Road to the east, was built to divide the island into two halves, delineating the properties once owned by Roger Williams to the north and John Winthrop to the south. You will also notice that you are at a major trail intersection. For this hike you will want to follow the dirt road to the south called the Heritage Trail. It is blazed with a feather and is just under a half mile to Baker Farm. When you reach the old barn site continue straight ahead. You will have an opportunity to explore it later as you will return to the farm site two more times on this hike. You will soon reach another major trail intersection. Turn to the right here and follow the School House Trail. The trail starts to descend gently for a little over a half mile and comes out to a dirt road named Broadway. This is the main east-west route across the island so do expect to see some traffic. You will want to turn left onto Broadway, but first take a peak at the Prudence Island School House to the right. The structure was built in 1896 and is the fourth (only surviving) school house built on Prudence Island. Continuing the hike, start walking along Broadway to the east. Across the way is a local landmark know as the Farm-a-cy. This honor system farm stand offers seasonal vegetables, jams, honey and home made baked goods. The zucchini muffins are outstanding. Further up the road just before the first street on the right is the southern trail head of the Heritage Trail. It is on the left and well marked with a Heritage Reserve sign. Turn left here and follow the Heritage Trail (also known as Army Camp Trail) north back towards Baker Farm. When you reach the intersection of the School House Trail you will notice an unmarked, but well groomed trail straight ahead and slightly to the right. Follow this trail and it will lead you to Baker Farm and come out between the ruins of the barn to the left and the farmhouse to the right. Both of these sites have impressive stone foundations. There was also a milk shed and an inn on the site. The inns location is marked with three rows of stones to the east of the farmhouse foundation. The farm site also offers a disc golf course. The history of the farm and the disc golf course are available on an informational kiosk board. To the south of the inn site is a large mowed lawn. At the south end of the lawn is the beginning of the Bob Clachrie Trail. This trail, marked with a hikers hat and also originally called the Christmas Trail, is named after Mr. Clachrie whom was one of the original members of the so-called Trail Gang. The trail, the first cut by the Trail Gang, winds down hill offering a nice view of the East Passage and the Melville Pier before descending to Narragansett Avenue. From here turn left and follow the paved road pass the Prudence Island Fire Station and then turn left onto Governor Payne Road. This road passes several homes and a vast wooded area on the left. About three tenths of a mile along the road and on the left look for the Old Inn Trail marked with a rocking chair. Turning left here, follow the trail over a couple boardwalks, uphill, and along a beautiful stone wall before returning to Baker Farm. Once back at the old inn site, turn to the right and look for the Diamond Trail. Follow this trail as it descends downhill passing through an area of trees that look twined and braided. You will soon pass over a few more short boardwalks before coming to the Division Wall Trail and the wall itself. Continue straight, passing through the wall. The trail first goes through an area of ferns and then becomes substantially root bound. Watch you footing here as some of the roots can be a tripping hazard. The trail soon comes to an intersection. The Diamond Trail turns to the left, but you want to stay to the right and return to East Lane. This is the trail intersection you made note of earlier. When you reach East Lane turn to the right and follow the road keeping the large field to your left. After passing the field you will see a sign for the Buzzy Rice Trail to your left. Follow this mowed trail passing the water tank. The trail then slightly descends. Ahead the trail splits. Stay to the left here, but first take a peek through the trees along the right. There is an opening that offers a great view of the Mount Hope Bridge. Staying to the left the trail continues to descend slightly and ends at Pier Road. Turn right here, passing the Union Church once again and follow Pier Road down to Narragansett Avenue. Directly ahead of you is the “Prudence Island Mall” consisting of a small general store and the post office, To the left is the ferry terminal. Note that hunting is allowed in and around some parts of this hike. Be sure to wear orange during hunting season.

 

NOTE: If you plan on hiking on Prudence Island, be known that the island is not commercialized. There are no restaurants, lodging, or transportation services. There are no public restrooms on the island except a composting toilet by the T-Wharf at the southern end of the island, which is several miles from most hikes. Once you are off the ferry you are on your own. Bring everything you will need for a day hike with no services. Furthermore, ticks are in abundance on the island. It is necessary to take precautions including proper clothing, sprays, and frequent checks.

 

Map can be found at: Prudence East

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Along The Bob Clachrie Trail

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Along The Old Inn Trail

Tri Town Ridgeline Preserve East – North Stonington/Griswold/Preston

  • Tri Town Ridgeline Preserve East
  • Miller Road, North Stonington, CT
  • Trailhead:  41°30’46.39″N, 71°54’16.06″W
  • Last Time Hiked: August 21, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.1 miles
  • Moderate, hills can be difficult.

 

This new Avalonia Conservancy property is large and sprawling offer several miles of trails. The longer blue blazed trail follows the perimeter of the property whereas the yellow blazed loop is shorter and explores the inner parts of the preserve. The red blazed trails serve as access and exits to and from the preserve. Do note that a portion of the blue trail has not been blazed yet pending finalization of land acquisitions and is expected to be completed in the autumn. For this hike, guided by a member of the Conservancy, we explored the eastern portion of the preserve utilizing a little of each trail. Starting from a small parking area at the bend in Miller Road we first followed the red blazed trail. We soon came to a marker for the blue blazed trail and continued ahead. The yellow trail comes in from the left  and shortly thereafter we turned to the right to continue to follow the blue blazes. The red and yellow blazed trail continues ahead and we would return from there. The blue trail, named the Wapayu Trail, then starts a steady climb up the first of several significant hills on the preserve. We passed several walls along the stretch that are believe to be of Native American origin. These are known as serpentine walls that twist and turn like a snake with a boulder at the end of the wall as its head. As the trail climbs over the hill and descends we came to the next trail intersection. Here the yellow trail (Fenway Trail) joins the blue blazed trail once again. This is also about where we entered Griswold. From here we followed the double blazed trail passing beautiful outcrops. Ahead the trails split again. The yellow blazed trail veers to the left and the blue blazed trail turns to the right sharply and climbs up another significant hill known as Rixtown Mountain, also known as Wapayu. Along the trail on the long steady climb we passed several cairns, several outcrops, and a vernal pool. (Note: that at the time of this hike the trail was blazed only with survey flagging and will be blazed by the autumn). Near the peak of Wapayu is a small rock formation along the trail. From here the trail descends and winds passing several impressive stone walls and an old quarry before traversing the northern reaches of the preserve. The blue trail once again joins the yellow trail for a bit as it crosses an area known as Oak Alley. The trees are very large and old along this stretch with an outcrop and stone wall on the left. The yellow and blue trails split once again to rejoin at the bottom of the hill. Follow the blue blazes down the hill and then back up another small hill, once again rejoined by yellow blazes before passing through a cairn field. The trail then turns sharply to the south following a babbling brook that we crossed just before an old stone dam at the edge of Lost Pond. The trail then climbs back uphill catching glimpses of Lost Pond on the left. We ignore a red blazed bypass trail on the left and continued straight. A little further the blue and yellow split one last time. We stayed on the blue trail climbing over a hill passing more cairns and entered Preston. At the next trail intersection we turned left onto the red blazed trail. It is an access road that runs south to the parking lot. For the remainder of the hike we followed the red blazes back into North Stonington passing an occasional outcrop. The red blazes are once again joined briefly by yellow and blue blazes before exiting the property. A map of the property is currently posted at the parking area. Also be sure to bring plenty of water. This hike can challenge your stamina.

 

Thank you to Carl Tjerandsen for leading this hike!

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Stone Wall Along Blue Trail

Black Ledge Trail – Portsmouth

  • Black Ledge Trail
  • Bay Avenue, Portsmouth, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°36’15.40″N, 71°20’0.87″W (3 miles from ferry)
  • Last Time Hiked: July 31, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.5 miles
  • Fairly easy, use extreme caution at ledge.

 

This hike on the western side of Prudence Island seems to have had two names. On the map linked below it is referred to as Bay Avenue. In an older Prudence Conservancy newsletter it is called the aptly named Black Ledge Trail. To access the trail, park on Bay Avenue just south of the Stone Wharf at the “diving rock”. From here walk up the driveway (still a public road) then stay in front of the stone wall in front of the houses. Ahead you will see a gate and the entrance of the trail. The trail is an out and back leading to a beautiful (but dangerous) ledge that overlooks the West Passage. Along the way are several spots where you can catch a glimpse of the bay. The east side of the trail for several hundred feet is a wall of sweet pepperbush. It is in bloom late July into early August and is very fragrant. The ledge is just after the second gate on the right. The trail ahead ends briefly at a home, there is no need to continue ahead. The trail to the right is steep and narrow as it descends to the ledge. It is worth the climb down for the amazing view. Take some time to linger here before retracing your steps back to the car.

 

NOTE: If you plan on hiking on Prudence Island, be known that the island is not commercialized. There are no restaurants, lodging, or transportation services. There are no public restrooms on the island except a composting toilet by the T-Wharf at the southern end of the island, which is several miles from most hikes. Once you are off the ferry you are on your own. Bring everything you will need for a day hike with no services. Furthermore, ticks are in abundance on the island. It is necessary to take precautions including proper clothing, sprays, and frequent checks.

 

Trail map can be found at: Black Ledge Trail.

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Black Ledges of Southwest Prudence Island

Prudence West – Portsmouth

  • Prudence West
  • Bay Avenue, Portsmouth, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°37’20.93″N, 71°19’21.29″W (1.5 miles from ferry)
  • Last Time Hiked: July 30, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.1 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

This hike on the western side of Prudence Island covers a variety of trails. It starts at a picnic and parking area along Bay Road at the entrance of Pulpit Rock. The rock it self is a couple hundred feet from the trail head along the Blind Allen Trail. This rock is where Roger Williams use to preach to the Native Americans and is also believed to be the throne of Canonicus and Miantonomi of the Narragansett Tribe. Continuing a little further along the winding Blind Allen Trail you will come to a trail intersection. Take a left here onto the newly created Deer Chase Run. This trail, blazed with deer hoof symbols, slowly climbs up a hill that leads to the Desert, an area of the island that wind erosion has made unsuitable for farming. The area now is abundant with pitch pine trees and occasional areas of sand. Soon you will come to the intersection of the Desert Trail. Continue ahead here following the hoof symbols of Deer Chase Run. The trail winds slightly downhill to a bridge crossing at Mill Creek. The trail then winds easterly exiting at utility pole 11 along Sunset Hill Avenue. Turn right here and follow the dirt road for about a tenth of a mile passing the Sunset Hill Farm (Bacon Farm) on the right. Ahead of you will signage for trails. Continue straight and onto the trail. You will see signage for the Diamond Trail on a tree. Continue ahead for a bit and you will come to a trail intersection. This is the Diamond Trail. To the left it would lead you to Baker Farm. For this hike turn right onto the Diamond Trail and follow it, passing tall grasses and shrubs, for about two tenths of a mile to another dirt road. At the dirt road stay to the left and pass through the wall. You are now at a six trail intersection. Turn right here and start to follow the Division Wall Trail keeping the wall to your right for the time being. This trail is blazed with a mathematic division symbol. The wall, which runs almost completely across the island represents the division line between land owned by Roger Williams (to the north) and John Winthrop (to the south). The wall was built a century after the agreement was made in the 1630’s. The trail follows the wall dipping into a valley, crossing a small stream, and then slightly back uphill a bit before ascending to Bay Avenue. The Ballard Trail runs parallel to this trail and joins it before coming to the street. Across the street is the end of the wall and the Division Rock, the dividing point between the two property owners. Also at this location is the beginning of the Sunset Trail on which you will follow along the west shore of the island for a half mile. Along the way on the right you will find a grave of an unknown British sailor who perished in the American Revolution. The Sunset Trail ends at Chase Way, a dirt road. Stay to the left here and follow the road along the shoreline. The road passes Chase Beach before winding to the right. At the end of Chase Way turn left onto Bay Avenue and follow it to the parking area at Pulpit Rock.

 

NOTE: If you plan on hiking on Prudence Island, be known that the island is not commercialized. There are no restaurants, lodging, or transportation services. There are no public restrooms on the island except a composting toilet by the T-Wharf at the southern end of the island, which is several miles from most hikes. Once you are off the ferry you are on your own. Bring everything you will need for a day hike with no services. Furthermore, ticks are in abundance on the island. It is necessary to take precautions including proper clothing, sprays, and frequent checks.

 

 

Updated trail map can be purchased at NBNERR at South Prudence.

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Along The Division Wall Trail

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