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

Dark Swamp – Glocester

  • Dark Swamp
  • Willie Woodhead Road, Glocester, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°54’3.72″N, 71°45’48.62″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 16, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.6 miles
  • Moderate due to navigation, otherwise fairly easy with some elevation.

 

In November of 1923, two young explorers set out from Providence to find the swamp that for years was reputed to be cursed. The stories date back to when the colonists were settling the area. It is believed that they were warned by the Natives of this area and its curse to keep the colonists from this land. It is also said that several of the colonists who did not heed the warning were never seen again. These two young explorers never did reach their destination that day. They were Clifford Eddy and H.P. Lovecraft, (at the time unknown) horror story authors. In September of 2017, a group of hikers led by members of the Northwest Rhode Island Supporters of Open Space set out to Dark Swamp ignoring the heeded warnings. They were successful! Dark Swamp was found and they all made it out to tell the story. It is suggested however, that if you do head out for this hike, be sure to use a GPS device as most of the trails are not marked and there are plenty of side trails and spurs. Starting at a cul-de-sac at the end of Willie Woodhead Road we made our way along the trail in a southerly direction as it climbed slightly uphill. Ahead this trail meets the North South Trail. Bear to the right and follow the blue blazed trail. There are trails to both the right and left that are mostly grass covered. Ignore them and continue straight. At the half mile mark there is a trail on the right with a cellar hole. You will return on this trail. Continue straight passing over a large outcrop of a rock believe to be a threshing rock. Shortly after this rock on the left there is another narrow and grassy trail. Take it, the trail splits, stay to the left and follow the narrow trail. It leads to old ice pond. From here retrace your steps back to the blue blazed North South Trail and continue south. Starting looking for a trail on the right (about 9/10 of a mile into the hike). Take the right, then almost immediately left. Continue straight, passing yet another spur trail on the right, the trail vanishes into a field of ferns. Ahead and below is the first glimpse of the Dark Swamp with its near black water covered with a twisted and interlaced brush over it.  This area offers many other sights of swamps. Turn around passing the spur trail (now on your left) and instead of turning right onto the trail you came in on, turn left. This trail, unmarked, winds to the west and then north passing some stone walls before ending. Take note of your surroundings here. At the intersection you will exit to the right when you return. For now turn left. This trail will lead you into the depths of Dark Swamp. Shortly you will see another swamp on the right. Just beyond this swamp you will start to see piles of rocks. These are cairns, similar to the ones in Parker Woodland. Locals believe they may be from the Native Americans. Continuing ahead you will come to another trail intersection. Stay to left here and soon you will catch a glimpse of the swamp once again on the left. At the time of this hike we saw frogs and a heron here. The trail then climbs up and over a rather impressive hill before winding through a hemlock grove. The trail all but ends as you approach the large body of water created by beavers. Here is one of the largest swamps in the area complete with beaver dam and beaver hut. This is great spot for a break and to take in nature. From here retrace your steps pass the swamps and cairns. Continue straight at the “noted” intersection. It soon passes an old building and cellar hole on the left. At the end of this trail turn left. You are now back on the blue blazed North South Trail. The trail back to the car will be on your left. Hunting is allowed here, blaze orange is required during hunting season. And again, use GPS here.

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The Swamp at the End of The Trail. (Note the Beaver Hut)

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Bradford Preserve – Westerly

  • Bradford Preserve
  • Bradford Road, Westerly, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°23’29.15″N, 71°45’16.67″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 2, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.2 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

A hidden treasure along Route 91 in Westerly. I have driven by the sign several times and glanced across the athletic fields. What I never knew (until I did a little research) is that there is a great hiking trail here. The trail is in fact a cross country trail for the Westerly High School but open to the public when not in use by them. The trail is blazed orange, but at the time of the hike, the blazes were a little faint. Just be sure to keep an eye for them at turns and intersections. The access the trail head from the parking area you must cross the large grass field to the right. You will find the trail head at the back end of the field. A short entrance trail will be the first part of the hike. Turn left at the intersection to do the orange blazed loop. The trail climbs slowly and steadily uphill for a bit passing stone walls, a vernal pool, and a fern covered forest first heading northerly before turning to the south. Ahead a trail to the left will lead you into the Woody Hill Management Area. Continue to the right here and continue to follow the blazes. When you reach the southern end of the loop you will come upon a large open field filled with tall grass and wildflowers. A path to the left will lead you back into the woods. Turn right here and follow the path along the edge of the woods keeping the field to your left. Take your time here and enjoy the sights. At the time of this hike the field had a variety of butterflies and the sounds of crickets. But the dragonflies stole the show, literally hundreds of them buzzing around. Soon the field path enters back into the woods and the trail starts its long descent downhill. Keep an eye out for a spur trail to the left. This trail leads you to a monument in the woods built in 1886 in honor of the Vars family who first came to the colonies in 1680. After stopping by the monument continue along the orange blazed trail, still descending, to the entrance trail. Here you will want to turn left and cross the field once again to the parking area.

 

Trail map can be found at: Bradford Preserve.

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Trail in the Bradford Preserve

Knight Farm Trail – Cranston

 

One of the newest trails in Rhode Island, opened in June 2017, the Knight Farm Trail offers three different and distinctive types of walks in one. This hike offers a walk along old roads, narrow trails, and a walk around a farm. And what a hike it is! A tall canopy of trees and thickly wooded, but yet so close to the city. The trail starts on Laten Knight Road opposite Beechwood Drive. There is a small sign at the trail head. The white blazed trail first follows a old narrow dirt road for several hundred feet before the power lines. Here the road turns to the right. Continue straight onto the narrow white blazed trail. Being a new trail and not overly used yet, the trail is yet to be well defined. It is, however, very well blazed. Be sure to keep an eye on the blazes. Soon you will reach a sign for the one mile loop. Stay to the right here and continue to follow the white blazes. A short spur trail to the right will lead you to a seasonal tributary of the Lippett Brook. Continuing along the loop trail, you will soon notice some small boulders and stone walls. The trail then turns to the left into a field. Stay to the right here and follow the perimeter of the field about half way around it. The field is actively cultivated so be sure not to wander into the crops. About halfway around the field look for the post with a single white blaze. The trail renters the woods once again and soon widens to another old dirt road. There are a couple boardwalks in the wet areas along this stretch. Keep an eye on the upcoming turn. The white blazes lead you to the left back onto a very narrow trail that will complete the loop back at the “Loop Trail” sign. Here, turn right and retrace your steps back to the trail head. Some notes on the blazing. All the trails are blazed white and use a single blaze for long straight sections. Turns are marked by a double blaze or a sign. Be sure to note to next blaze at a turn to make sure you are heading the right direction.

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Sign In The Woods

Tablerock Hill – Lincoln

  • Tablerock Hill – Lincoln Woods State Park
  • Stump Hill Road, Lincoln, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°53’42.13″N, 71°25’36.62″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 23, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.5 miles
  • Moderate due to terrain, navigation can be difficult.

 

A few quick notes about this hike. Lincoln Woods is notorious for having many unmarked trails that one could easily get lost on. It is highly recommendable that you use a GPS device if you choose to embark on this hike. Although I tried to keep it as easy as possible (as far as navigation) I think improvements can be made. Some of this hike is road walking and I do believe there are other trails that can eliminate that. I fully intend on returning to this area of Lincoln Woods to explore further and finalize a route.

 

This hike starts at the dam at the eastern end of Olney Pond in Lincoln Woods. There is a parking area suitable for about 15 cars. At the north end of the parking lot is the Jodi Lussier Memorial. Pass the rock and veer left to the right of large outcrop onto a trail that leads into a small valley.  Stay to the left and follow the wider trail that approaches the pond. To the right just before the pond is a trail to the right that climbs uphill. At the top of the hill you will encounter your first experience of multiple trails to choose from. For this hike, stay to the left to parallel the pond. The trail soon dips close to the shore and is marked with red squares. The trail winds, with the pond to left and a hill with boulders on right, up and over small hills following the red square blazes. Along the way there are several spots to view pond. Ahead the trail splits. The trail to the right comes out to an old woods road that you will be on later. For now stay close to the pond. The key is to continue ahead taking lefts to continue to parallel the pond. By doing so you will turn onto a peninsula onto a trail that leads out to Sunset Point. The trail turns to the right, still following the shore, around the point and up to a rock outcrop that overlooks the pond. From here continue to follow the trails along the ponds edge and it will come back to the old woods road. Turn left here and follow the road downhill, again continuing to follow the shore. The aptly named Boulderwood Cove is now on your left. To be sure you are where you should be, you should see a single boulder emerging from the water at this point. Ahead is another multiple trail intersection. Turn left and the trail almost immediately splits. Stay to the left again following the path by the shore once again. Another split is ahead, again stay to the left. Continuing straight ahead there are a couple spur trails to the right you will ignore. Soon you will pass a large balancing boulder on the right. Continue straight ahead following the most defined trail until you reach a flat area surrounding you with large rocks. Here the trail splits again. This time stay slightly to the right (straight) and up the small hill. This trail and another merge at the top of the hill. Stay to left towards the massive boulders. Continuing ahead the trail you are on merges with another. Continue ahead to road passing through picnic site 59. Across the road is picnic site 27. To the left of the site is the trail that scrambles uphill. Cross the road and follow this trail uphill to another massive ledge. Stay to the left of the large rock and follow the base of it to the other side. Continuing the trail narrows and continues straight ahead following faded green dots. Soon the trail abruptly turns left down a rock outcrop into a small valley and crosses a stream. The trail narrows even further, then takes sharp right at a large boulder. Follow the face of the boulder, the trail turns slightly left and then continues straight to Quinsicket Road. Turn right follow road passing picnic sites 29 through 32 on the right. On the left you will notice signs indicating that the trails are used by horse back riders. Follow the paved road up and over a significant hill. As the road starts to climb up again it bends to the left. There is a parking area on the right. Turn right here through the parking area toward row of concrete blocks and rocks that block the old woods road. Grass covered at first, and blazed blue, this trail heads east. To the right is the top of Tablerock Hill. The trail then starts to descend and becomes quite rocky. At the next split the blue blazes stay to left. Here you want to stay to the right and go downhill. The next intersection, at the bottom of the hill, turn right and follow dirt road that leads to picnic sites 2 and 3. Continuing pass the picnic sites you will soon turn right onto the road that wraps around a large field on the left. On the right is the entrance of picnic site 4. At the back of the site is a large ledge with an inscription in it about Bobby Donato, a local, who served in the United States Marines. Retracing you steps back to the road. Continue to the entrance of picnic site 5. Here at the sites entrance is a large outcrop known as Pulpit Rock. It is said that Metacom, a Wampanoag leader, would address his warriors here. Just beyond the picnic site are two trails. For this hike take the one to the left. It passes a small quarry on the left and a small pond on the right before it starts climbing uphill with a stone wall on the left. The trails soon come together, stay to the left here on the more defined trail. This trail continues to climb uphill and soon bends to the right. Ignore the trail to the left and continue another 30 feet or so to the next trail intersection. It is here you will turn left and follow the trail passing a boulder on your right. Continue straight, staying to the left trail downhill as it traverses over an outcrop and then soon a wooden bridge over a stream. To your left are picnic sites 10 and 11 and Goat Rock. For this hike continue straight. The trail here is a wide dirt path that also passes picnic sites 13 and 14 again on your left. Continue straight to the next intersection then veer to left. This trail leads you to the backside of some more picnic sites. Stay on the trail as it bends to the right up and over one last hill. At the top of the hill you will see the road ahead. This trail ends at the road intersection, cross the road and continue straight. You are now on Stump Hill Road and your car is ahead on the right.

 

Trail map can be found at: Tablerock Hill.

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Boulderwood Cove

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Inscription In Donato Rock at Lincoln Woods.

Big River – West Greenwich

  • Big River – Big River Management Area
  • Nooseneck Hill Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°38’53.88″N, 71°36’25.88″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 27, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 5.4 miles
  • Moderate, Difficult navigation without map or GPS.

In the 1960’s several local residents were forced to leave their homes here in the area of Big River. The State took the land by eminent domain to build a reservoir. The reservoir, first planned in the 1920’s, was never built and today the large and sprawling property is considered open space with a maze of trails, small streams, ponds, and cellar holes. With that being said, as with all of the Big River property, it is suggested not to wander here without a map, GPS device, or someone who knows the property well. For today’s hike we were led by Sandi of the Appalachian Mountain Club who guided us through the heart of Big River on a nearly five and a half mile trek. Her knowledge of not just the trails, but the history of the property is astounding. I would highly suggest keeping an eye out for any future hikes she may lead here. We started from the main parking area along Nooseneck Hill Road (a quarter mile south of Route 95). From here we followed Burnt Sawmill Road into the Management Area along the paved road until we reached a gate. The pond, with dam and waterfall, on the left is Capwell Mill Pond, fed by both the Carr River and Mud Bottom Brook. Continuing along Burnt Sawmill Road, we were flanked by old trees and telephone poles. At pole 24 a trail, an old cart path, veers to the left. We took it following the old cart path through pine groves and maples before crossing a stream at a wooden bridge that has seen better days. The trails continues, climbing a small hill, passing a couple of stone walls, and a few young pines on the forest floor below the towering ones. The trail splits and narrows, here we stayed to the right and soon came to another trail intersection where we stayed to the right once again. At the next intersection we stayed to the left slightly and then continued straight. The trail to the right would lead you back to Burnt Sawmill Road. Continuing ahead we came to a cellar hole and well on the left. It is not easy to see from the trail and if you do find it, be sure to use caution by the well. The next highlight of the hike comes up on the right. It is the Sweet Family Cemetery with graves dating back to the 1750’s. The trail then passes through another pine grove. This one is quite noticeable as the trees have grown very densely close to each other. Soon after there is a spur trail on the right that leads to the dam on the north end of Sweet Pond. The dam is now breached, intentionally, and Sweet Pond is no more. It is now just a stream through a grass filled basin. Retracing steps back along the spur trail we then turned right, southerly, along the trail we were previously on. Next we came to Sweet Sawmill Road, another old road. Here we turned right and soon passed the south side of the remnants of Sweet Pond. This stretch is flanked by some stone walls and ferns. At the next intersection, a four way, continue straight ahead. A few hundred feet ahead at the next intersection turn right. This is Burnt Sawmill Road once again. Following this road to its end will lead you back to the parking area. Along the way we would come across another cemetery and a former homestead with the only evidence left being a tire swing. Before concluding our hike we did explore a trail to the right that led to a stream that flows between the former Sweet Pond and Capwell Mill Pond. Wildlife is abundant here as it is not uncommon to see deer, coyote, squirrels, chipmunks, and turtles. The property also is carpeted by ferns and wildflowers with birdfoot violet and wild geranium being in bloom at the time of this hike. This is a popular hunting location as well. Orange is mandatory during hunting season.

Trail map can be found at: Big River (courtesy of Auntie Beak)

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Sweet Sawmill Road

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Dam and Waterfall at Capwell Mill Pond

Moonstone Beach – South Kingstown

  • Moonstone Beach
  • Moonstone Beach Road, South Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°22’18.72″N, 71°34’20.77″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 17, 2017
  • Distance: Less than a mile April to September, up to 4 miles rest of year.
  • Easy Beach Walk.

 

Moonstone Beach for years was known for its reputation as being a nude beach. Today, no longer a nude beach, it is one of Rhode Islands most stunning beaches with its scattered stones along the sand. The beach surrounded and part of the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge offers nearly 2 miles of strand between Roy Carpenters Beach and Green Hill Beach. The quiet beach is not easy to visit due to many seasonal restrictions. From May 1 to September 15 a parking pass is required to park along Moonstone Beach Road. Also in most of the spring and summer large sections of the beach are cordoned off to protect the piping plovers. The beach is stunningly beautiful in the winter months if you can handle the sometimes brutal winter winds. The best time to visit is very early spring, the autumn and winter. The beach is also noted for its birds as three salt ponds abut the beach including Trustom Pond and Cards Pond. Killdeers, Sandpipers, Herons, and Egrets are also known to frequent Moonstone. Be sure to bring a camera!!

 

More information about the birds of Moonstone Beach can be found here.

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Waves Crashing On Moonstone Beach

Lantern Hill – North Stonington

  • Lantern Hill
  • Wintechog Hill Road, North Stonington, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°28’0.82″N, 71°56’44.18″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 17, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.9 miles
  • Difficult to Strenuous With Some Climbing.

 

Lantern Hill is a must visit if you are in the southeastern corner of Connecticut. The hike described here climbs over Lantern Hill just southeast of the Foxwoods Casino complex and follows the Narragansett Trail. Starting from a makeshift parking area (with no signage) along Wintechog Hill Road the light blue blazed trail immediately begins to climb the hill following an old cartpath. After a couple hundred feet the trail levels off for a bit before coming to a red blazed Lantern Hill Loop Trail. Be sure to be aware of the blue blazes of the Narragansett Trail when you approach trail intersections. You will want to follow them and not the red blazes for this hike. The Narragansett Trail then starts to steadily climb the hill once again. The inclines are quite impressive at times. The trail first overlooks the Pequot Reservation to the north and west offering views of the casino and Lantern Hill Pond below. The trail then climbs over the summit to a stunning overlook with miles and miles of sights to the east and south. Clear days will offer a view of the Atlantic Ocean to the south. It is also interesting to see the hawks and vultures soaring through the sky sometimes below you. Use extreme caution along the edges here as a fall would surely be fatal. Also here on the first day of Spring the Westerly Morris Men climb the hill for their annual sunrise dance at the summit. The hill got its name from the War of 1812 as the hill was used as a lookout. When the British were spotted approaching, barrels of tar were ignited to warn nearby residents. After spending some time at the summit continue following the blue blazed trail as it winds, at times steeply, down the hill. There is one section, that we dubbed the Lemon Squeeze, that will challenge your footing, balance, and upper body strength. The trail then traverses the south side of the hill passing through groves of mountain laurel before coming out to the North Stonington Transfer Station. Again, be sure to pay attention to blazes and turns at intersections. After the Dog Pound the trail turns to the left through the transfer station and out to the road. At this point you have hiked 1.4 miles of the Narragansett Trail. The trail continues ahead, however it is closed (from Wintechog Hill Road to Route 2) at the moment because of logging. For this hike turn left and follow Wintechog Hill Road about a half mile back to the parking area.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Lantern Hill

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The View At The Top Of Lantern Hill.