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

Capwell Mill Pond – West Greenwich

  • Capwell Mill Pond – Big River Management Area
  • Burnt Sawmill Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°38’39.57″N, 71°36’27.08″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 17, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.7 miles
  • Fairly easy with some difficult navigation.

 

This is yet another beautiful hike in the Big River Management Area. The trails here are numerous, unmarked, and can be difficult to navigate. With that being said, it is not advisable to do this hike without a reliable map, an understanding how to read it, a sense of direction, and absolutely be sure to use GPS tracking in the case you need to back track. This hike starts from a small parking area along Burnt Swamp Road before the gate by the Capwell Mill Pond Dam. It is about three tenths of a mile from Nooseneck Hill Road. After passing the gate you will see the dam on the left. Shortly after the dam follow the narrow trail to the left. It climbs slightly uphill into a grass field before winding into the tall pines. Soon a trail comes in from the right. Stay to the left here and you will cross a bridge. The view, overlooking a tributary of the pond is quite pleasant. After the bridge the trail splits, continue straight. The trail slowly climbs uphill through a lush forest of pines. Be aware of your trail intersections for this walk. At the next trail intersection continue straight again following the main trail. You will continue to climb slightly uphill. This section of trail can be quite wet after a heavy rain. You will soon pass a stone wall. Just after the wall is a narrow path to the left. Ignore it for this hike and continue ahead. You will soon pass a second stone wall and then the trail winds a bit before coming to a large boulder at a trail intersection. This is about the one mile mark. Ignore the trail to left and continue straight on the main trail as it starts to bend to the right. Slow down and start looking for the next trail intersection about one tenth of a mile after the large boulder. As the trail starts to turn to the right by a mossy rock with a tree growing on it there is a trail on the left. It is narrow, but defined enough to be noticed. Turn left here and follow the trail as it starts downhill. Soon the trail ends at another well defined trail. There will be a white blaze on the tree at the intersection. Turn left here. In a few yards you will come to another intersection with a tree blazed white. You will want to continue straight, but first follow the trail to the right to the bridge crossing the stream called Mud Bottom Brook. The slight detour is well worth it. Take a moment here. The babbling brook drowns out all other nearby sounds and you are out in the middle of nowhere nearly a mile from any civilization. Return up the hill to the tree with the white blazes and turn right. After making the turn and following the trail you will pass a stone wall on the left. The stone wall then flanks the trail to the right for a bit before the trail starts to descend downhill leaving the stone wall behind. The trail then starts its slight bend to the left passing a boulder in the middle of the trail. The boulder is a good reference point and is just the right height to sit for a moment and take in the nature around you. From here the trail continues downhill and bending to the left. You will start getting your first glimpses of the pond through the trees on the right. Passing another stone wall the trail splits. They rejoin in a few yards where the trail splits yet again. At this split stay to the right. There is also some mountain laurel scattered around in the area. Continuing ahead the pond is still to the right through the trees and there is another stone wall on the left. The trail turns to the left crossing the stone wall and then to the right meandering to and from the pond. A trail soon comes in from the left, stay to the right and continue to the end of the trail. Turn right and you will cross the bridge overlooking the tributary of the pond once again. Just after the bridge turn right onto the trail that will lead you back to the dam and parking area. Blaze orange is required during hunting season.

 

Map can be found at: Capwell Mill Pond (Map 1), (Map 2).

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Pines, Stone Walls, And The Pond.

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Ponaganset Covered Bridge Trail – Glocester

  • Ponaganset Covered Bridge Trail
  • Anan Wade Road, Glocester, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°51’59.71″N,71°42’43.31″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 15, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.0 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

The cross country course behind Ponaganset High School in Glocester may be one of the best kept secret trails in the state. Open to the public when not in use for track meets and other school events, this trail offers a nice 2 mile stroll through some beautiful wooded property that is zigzagged with small seasonal streams. The bridges across these streams are the highlights of this walk, one being a covered bridge. For this walk, you start from the north parking lot of the High School by the superintendents office. Stay to the right and make your way to the football field and track. On the right is the trailhead marked with a sign. Follow the stone dust trail and you soon come to the covered bridge. Continuing, the trail follows the perimeter of a ball field before turning slightly to the right and uphill. At the top of the hill the trail turns to the left and slightly downhill to a four way intersection dubbed “Grand Central Station”. For this walk take the second left. You will follow a loop trail the traverses through the southern end of the property eventually returning to the four way intersection. From the intersection continue straight up and over the hill, back down to the covered bridge, returning to the parking lot.

 

Map can be found at: Ponaganset Covered Bridge Trail.

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Covered Bridge at Ponaganset

Bluff Point – Groton

  • Bluff Point State Park And Coastal Reserve
  • Depot Road, Groton, CT
  • Trailhead:  41°20’8.76″N, 72° 2’0.90″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 14, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.6 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

Bluff Point State Park once made the CNN list of the 50 states natural wonders. Surprisingly enough, even though it has been on the to do list for quite a while, it took me a few years to finally venture down here to check it out. Groton is a long drive to most Rhode Islanders. Pack a lunch, make a daytrip out of it, get out of Rhode Island once in a while! This place is worth the drive. The park offers well defined trails and signage where needed. The trails are used by walkers, hikers, joggers, bicyclists, and horseback riders. Dogs are welcome but must be leashed. Starting just after sunrise from the seemingly large and nearly empty parking lot at the end of Depot Road we started following the wide gravel road trail just beyond the informational signs. The trail soon splits about one tenth of a mile into the park. Stay to the right here and continue along the main trail that follows the Poquonnock River. You then follow this trail for 1.3 miles until you reach Bushy Point Beach ignoring spur trails both narrow and wide. Along the way there are several spots that overlook the river and features in the distance. Across the river is the bustling Groton-New London Airport. There are views of the peninsulas and points that jut out into the river as well as the lighthouses further in the distance. The Avery Point Lighthouse at the University of Connecticut Avery Point campus is visible as well as the haunted New London Ledge Light. The trail also winds gently up and down small hills flanked by towering trees and passes some areas of marsh and wetlands. There are an abundance of birds here as well. Great blue herons, egrets, cormorants, hawks, robins, cardinals, and woodpeckers were all spotted on this hike. When we reached the beach we explored it for a few minutes. The beach itself extends westward for nearly a mile, but we only ventured in the area around the entrance. The beach is closed in areas during nesting season of least terns and piping plovers. Dogs and horses are not allowed on the beach between April and August. Back to the main trail we climbed up the small hill of the bluff. There are several spur trails to the edge of the bluff and the rocky beach below. The rocky shoreline makes for a good photograph and was also being used by a couple fishermen. Looking to the south you can see Fishers Island from here. Back on the main trail, it starts to wind to the east and then to the north passing Sunset Rock on the left before winding to a cellar hole at a trail intersection. The spot is well marked with a sign that explains that this was once the Winthrop Homestead, the former Connecticut Governor. After lingering at the cellar hole for a bit we decided to follow the less traveled trail to Mumford Cove. There is a sign here indicating which trail to follow. This trail winds downhill through an area of scattered boulders, tall trees, and a seasonal brook before coming to the cove. There are a couple spots along the trail to take a peek at the cove and rest your legs if you so choose. Continuing, now heading north, the trail becomes more of a grass road. There is a large wooded hill to the left and areas of thickets and shrubbery to the right. The trail soon ends at a gravel road that runs from Haley Farm to the parking area where this hike started. Turning left here, follow the gravel road to the large parking area where the car is park. The lot was nearly full when finished the hike. Bluff Point is a very popular recreation spot.

 

Map can be found at: Bluff Point.

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Boulder at Bluff Point

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Trail Flanked By Trees

West Hill Dam – Uxbridge/Northbridge

  • West Hill Dam
  • Hartford Avenue East, Uxbridge, MA
  • Trailhead:  42° 6’12.84″N, 71°36’30.60″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 19, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.7 miles
  • Fairly easy with some slight elevation.

 

In 1955, Hurricane Diane caused extensive flooding particularly along the Blackstone River including the city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island. In 1960, the West Hill Dam was completed and almost immediately tested by Hurricane Donna. The cities and towns downstream did not flood. The dam and the property around the dam is owned and maintained by the United States Corp of Army Engineers. The property is open to passive recreation such as swimming, picnicking, and hiking. There are three blazed trails on the property. The orange blazed Woodland Trail encompasses almost the entire property. A yellow blazed Grassland Trail meanders through the southwestern section of the property. Lastly the green blazed West River Trail loops in the center of the property. For this hike we started from the parking lot at the southern Access Road off of Hartford Avenue East. Walking north along the road we soon came to a kiosk warning of hunting season. Blaze orange is required here from October to January when hiking. Turning left we started to follow the gravel road that is blazed with orange diamond markers. The road is slightly raised above the surrounding terrain for a bit. At the intersection, turn to the right and continue to follow the orange blazes. The trail, still following a road, winds through a grove of hemlocks and is flanked by small ponds. Soon you will start seeing stone walls and a large granite bollard with a “N” carved in one side and an “U” carved in the other. This is the town line marker between Uxbridge and Northbridge. Shortly thereafter the orange blazed trail meets with the yellow blazed trail. For this short stretch follow the yellow blazes. The orange blazed trail runs parallel on the other side of the wall but the views are better along the yellow trail. To your right is a sweeping view of a small valley and the grasslands that the West River passes through. The yellow blazed trail soon splits to the right, stay left and pick up the orange blazed trail once again. Next there is a fairly large cellar hole on the left. Soon after that you will come to a road. Stay to the right here and follow the road to a parking lot on the left. By the kiosk is the beginning of the green blazed trail. This trail is about a half mile long and winds up and down hills as it loops through the forest of pines between a pond and the West River. There are several spur trails in this area, however, the green blazes are abundant and easy to follow. At the top of one of the hills is a bench to take a break. There are several bird feeders below that attract birds such as titmouse, nuthatch, and chickadees. Taking a moment to take in the sights we could also hear woodpeckers in the distance. Continuing along the green trail we soon came to the road once again. Turning left, we crossed a bridge over the West River. Along the road on the right is the Harrington Pool Picnic Area. There is a fee in the summer to swim and picnic here. After passing through the parking lot stay to the right of the information kiosk and follow the orange blazes once again. At the next split, stay to the right again following the orange blazes. The trail soon turns to the south and slowly climbs uphill as it winds through more forest. There is an occasional seasonal brook along the way and several large boulders. Soon the trail comes to the massive earthen dam. The walk across the top of the dam offers another sweeping view of the valley below. At the other end of the dam a small bridge crosses the West River nearly fifty feet below in a gorge. From here follow the access road back to the parking area.

 

Map can be found at: West Hill Dam.

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View From Upon The Dam

Weetamoo Woods East – Tiverton

  • Weetamoo Woods East
  • Lake Road, Tiverton, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°35’14.25″N, 71° 9’45.37″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 9, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.1 miles
  • Fairly easy with some rocky footing.

 

Weetamoo Woods in its entirety is easily one of the best places in Rhode Island to hike. The last time I hiked Weetamoo I did about five and a half miles of trails that are described in a Ken Weber book. For this hike I opted to explore the remaining trails in the eastern end of the preserve. Starting from a small parking area on Lake Road, myself and a couple friends first followed the red blazed trail into the property. The trail is quite rocky in areas and footing can be a little challenging. Take your time here if the rocks are wet. Soon we came to a four way intersection (Waypoint 5). The red blazed trail intersects with a blue blazed and orange blazed trail, both on the left. Here we turned onto the orange trail and soon stumbled upon a cellar hole on the right. The trail passes a few stone walls and traverse through an area of beech and hollies. We then turned right onto the Meadow Trail (marked with a sign/Waypoint 6). This trail first crosses a gas easement and winds through the woods before coming to a large meadow. The trail continues with the meadow to the left and a long stone wall to the right. At the far end of the meadow you will catch your first glimpse of Borden Brook below on the right. The Meadow Trail ends at the yellow blazed trail where we turned right. This trail first crosses over Borden Brook and then follows an old cart path for a bit before turning right in the woods. Be sure to keep an eye for the yellow blazes for the turn as the cart path continues straight ahead. There are a few trail intersections here. Continue pass the blue blazes and then follow the red blazes. Soon you will come to Borden Brook again. Here you will find some rather impressive stone work. First, are the remains of an old sawmill complete with large stone walls. Second, step off the trail and follow the brook a few steps down stream to few the craftsmanship of the stone arch bridge. From the sawmill site you could either follow the red or blue blazed trail to the east as they both lead to the same trail intersection ahead. We opted to stay to the left and follow the red blazed trail as it climbed steadily uphill before crossing the gas easement once again. Shortly after way came back to Waypoint 5. From here we retraced our steps back along the red blazed trail to the parking area.

 

Map can be found at: Weetamoo Woods East.

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Along The Orange Blazed Trail

Franklin Farm – Cumberland

  • Historic Metcalf Franklin Farm
  • Abbott Run Valley Road, Cumberland, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°57’59.58″N, 71°23’38.37″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 3, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.4 miles
  • Easy with some small hills.

 

In the rolling hills of Northeast Rhode Island is Franklin Farm. The 65 acre town owned property was once a dairy farm now used for community gardening and historic preservation. The farm consists of an old 19th century farm house (currently under restoration) and a turn of the century dairy barn. On each side of Abbott Run Valley Road are large fields with farm trails that are open to the public. The fields are separated from the winding road by century old New England stone walls. Parking is available at the dairy barn. For this walk, first cross the street to get to the East Field. The entrance to the east field is marked with a sign at an opening in the stone wall. Use caution while crossing as there is a significant blind spot for approaching traffic. Once entering the East Field turn to the left and you will see a post with the number 1 on it. The farm trail follows the perimeter of the field and there are 10 numbered posts all the way. From the front of the field looking to the east offers a great wide open view of the sky. Sunrises can be spectacular here. When you are on the backside of the field you can catch glimpses of Rawson Pond down the bottom of the hill. After completing the loop cross back over to the West Field. Going up the driveway and right around the dairy barn back towards the old chain link fence you will find a post with the number 1 on it. The farm trail is again marked by numbered posts that leads you partly along the perimeter and partly across the farm fields. There is a small pond along the way that is a small haven for birds offering cover of shrubs and a small tree. I came across an owl here who seemed quite interested in my presence before flying off. The marked farm trail ends at the small gardens and chicken coup at the backside of the farm house. From here turn left to the parking area. The farm is active in the spring and summer months with gardeners and children at programs. The farm trails are open to the public from dawn to dusk. Do keep in mind though to wear proper shoes as the trail is all grass. The frosty farm trail quickly turned in morning dew on this walk.

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Perimeter Path in the East Field

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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