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

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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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

 

Narragansett Trail – North Stonington/Voluntown/Hopkinton

  • Narragansett Trail
  • North Stonington, CT to Hopkinton, RI
  • Last Time Hiked: 2017
  • Approximate Distance: 20.6 miles (open sections)
  • Difficultly is determined by individual legs of the hike.

Established in the early 1930’s and completed by 1936, the Narragansett Trail was one of the longest trails in the area. The original route ran from Lantern Hill in North Stonington, Connecticut to Wordens Pond in South Kingstown, Rhode Island. Today, the Narragansett Trail ends at Ashville Pond in Hopkinton, Rhode Island. Unfortunately, the trail is closed in some sections, partly temporary and partly permanent, and has become non-continuous. The temporary closure is due to clearing of land and the trail should re-open in due time. The permanent closure is on the land of the Groton Sportmans Club. The Connecticut Forest And Park Association has temporarily re-routed that section of trail along roads. Nonetheless, this trail is hands down one of the best hiking trails in Southern New England. The trail is blazed light blue in Connecticut and yellow in Rhode Island. This hike was done as a one-way hike using car-stops.

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A Beaver Hut Along The Narragansett Trail

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  • Wintechog Hill Road to North Stonington Transfer Station
  • Features Lantern Hill
  • 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.

The western most portion of the Narragansett Trail climbs over Lantern Hill just southeast of the Foxwoods Casino complex. 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 cart-path. 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 back out to Wintechog Hill 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.

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The View Looking East From Lantern Hill.

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This section of the Narragansett Trail is temporarily closed and is due to re-open in the near future.

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~~~

 

  • Ryder Road to Wyassup Lake
  • Features Gladys Foster Preserve & Cossaduck Bluffs
  • North Stonington, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°27’42.11″N, 71°54’21.83″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 21, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.5 miles
  • Moderate to Difficult, Long uphill section, stream crossings.

The blue blazed Narragansett Trail continues from Ryder Road easterly passing a small Nature Conservancy property known as the Gladys Foster Preserve. The trail then starts a climb up Cossaduck Hill. This section of the trail can be quite difficult as there is a quick increase in elevation. There are some impressive outcrops and ledges along this stretch as you climb toward an outlook known as Cossaduck Bluffs. Some locals also call it the Yawbux Valley Overlook. The view to the south here is quite impressive. The trail then winds slightly downhill passing some stone walls and entering the Pachaug State Forest. The trail then comes to an intersection where you need to take a left and then an immediate right. Be sure to follow the blue blazes. The trail steadily continues downhill passing through pine groves and beech stands. Along this stretch we came upon wild geranium and reishi mushroom. After a steep decline we came to the first of a few major crossings of the Yawbux Brook. Be sure to look for and follow the blazes by the brook. And furthermore, prepare to get your feet wet and/or muddy after heavy rains. After a bit of rock hopping over the brook the trail gets rocky and root-bound as well before coming to the second brook crossing. This one is a pair of logs that are quite rickety. A pair of trekking poles or a hiking stick will serve you well here. Again be sure to find and follow the blazes. The trail then winds through a wet and muddy area conducive for the growth of ferns before taking a well marked right turn, through a stone wall, and over the Yawbux Brook once again via a series of large “stepping stones”. The trail then turns to the left and through a short section that is a little overgrown before coming out to a beaver pond complete with a beaver dam and beaver hut. The trail then follows the shore of the pond for a bit passing swamp azalea, wild dogwood, and lady-slippers. An osprey and several swallows were spotted above the pond. No beavers were seen, but several trees had been toppled by their signature mark. The trail then continues into the thick woods and eventually through another pine grove. The trail at times is covered in their needles. More areas of outcrops and stone walls are along the rocky trail before coming to the Wyassup Road Spur. This trail leads into the new Stewart Hill Preserve. Continuing to follow the blue blazed Narragansett Trail we soon came to the last brook crossing. This one was quite wide and rocky, but at the time somewhat dry. After a heavy rain this one may be nearly impassable. The trail soon crosses an old cart path and continues to wind through the forest flanked by more outcrops and stone walls before coming out to Wyassup Lake Road just opposite of the boat ramp and parking area for the lake.

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“Stepping Stones” Crossing The Yawbux Brook.

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  • Wyassup Lake to Pendleton Hill Road
  • Features High Ledge & Bullet Ledge
  • North Stonington/Voluntown, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°29’20.79″N, 71°52’37.14″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 17, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.5 miles
  • Difficult, Strenuous in areas, stream crossings.

The blue blazed Narragansett Trail continues from Wyassup Lake first following Wyassup Lake Road northerly a few hundred feet before veering left into the woods onto a trail just beyond a gate. The old road soon turns to the left, continue straight onto a narrower trail and be sure to follow the blue blazes. This trail becomes root bound and rocky as it passes a swampy area with a couple stream crossings. The trail soon passes the first of several stone walls before winding to a massive ledge. This is the base of High Ledge and the Narragansett Trail weaves around the left side of it to its summit. At the summit of High Ledge you can catch a glimpse of the forest to the south. Continuing, the trail then descends dramatically into a fern filled valley with a stream and massive ledges to the left. The trail then follows a ridge line that towers over the forest to the right as it winds to  Ledgen Wood Road. Some of the road, an old cart path, tends to be quite rocky and makes for some difficult footing. Soon the Narragansett Trail turns left onto another old cart path and starts in a northerly direction. The trail winds downhill and narrows as it approaches a swampy area that is the headwaters of Dark Hollow Brook. You soon come to another massive ledge, and again the blue blazed trail winds up and around the left side of it. About halfway up the ledge along the trail there are openings to Bear Cave. When you reach the summit of Bullet Ledge you can take a peak to the trail down below. Be careful by the edges. From here, continue to follow the blue blazes as the trail continues to be hilly and substantially rocky. Along this stretch you will pass another large ledge to the left and several boulders, crossing into Voluntown, before coming to Coal Pit Hill Road. The trail continues ahead, crossing the road, and becomes narrower and slightly overgrown. Be sure to keep an eye for the blazes along this stretch. The trail then heads generally northeast passing stone walls and a forest floor of ferns as it winds up and down hills. As the trail turns east it starts a 150 foot descent down a narrow trail towards Myron Kinney Brook. The trail then turns south and starts climbing back uphill following the brook. Along this stretch you will see several small waterfalls and cascades as well as a couple of cairns as the trail crosses back into North Stonington. At the end of the trail, you will turn left at a stone wall onto Ledgen Wood Road once again. The gravel road heads east and soon becomes pavement entering a residential neighborhood. At the intersection continue straight onto Johnson Road. The road gently curves to the right and just before Pendleton Hill Road is a small pull-off for parking.

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Ledge in a Valley (Note the mountain laurel shrub growing on the side for perspective.)

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  • Pendleton Hill Road to Tom Wheeler Road
  • North Stonington/Voluntown, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°30’30.57″N, 71°50’24.02″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 15, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.2 miles
  • Fairly easy. All road walking, detour of closed section of trail.

The Narragansett Trail has been closed on the property of the Groton Sportsman Club and has been re-routed by The Connecticut Forest And Park Association. Though this detour is not blazed it is easy enough to follow. Starting from a small parking pull-off at the intersection of Pendleton Hill Road and Johnson Road follow Johnson Road to the northwest and then follow it to the right and back out to Pendleton Hill Road. It is advisable to face traffic for this stretch of the hike as you are now walking on a section of Route 49. Be sure to be aware of traffic. Continuing north you soon enter Voluntown and for a little over a half mile you will pass stone walls, farms, fields, and a few houses before coming to Sand Hill Road where you will turn right. This road is much quieter and offers a couple of sights. On the left is Studio Farm with its barn, wishing well, and canine greeter! The road crosses Koistenen Brook and soon starts climbing uphill flanked by post and wire guardrails and stonewalls. After cresting the hill there is a small pond on the right with lily-pads and a large field of wildflowers on the left. The road then turns to the left and immediately to the right. Here at this zigzag is the beginning of Gallup Road and a homestead with a couple small farm buildings. Be sure to continue east along Sand Hill Road for another 300 feet passing a small pond on the right. Here you will turn right onto Tom Wheeler Road and follow it four tenths of a mile passing more stone walls and corn fields. Look for a bright yellow sign on the right reading “Private Shooting Area”. Almost directly across the street from it you will see a sign for the Narragansett Trail. This is where the detour ends and the trail makes it way back into the woods.

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Detour

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A Field Along Sand Hill Road.

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  • Tom Wheeler Road to State Line Marker
  • Features Green Fall Pond & Dinosaur Caves
  • Voluntown, CT/Hopkinton, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°30’51.62″N, 71°49’23.84″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 15, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.0 miles
  • Difficult, Strenuous in areas, stream crossings, rock climbing.

The blue blazed Narragansett Trail continues from Tom Wheeler Road heading in a northeasterly direction. The trail is fairly level at first, but rocky and muddy in areas. After crossing the first of several stream crossings the trail descends down the first rock wall into a small valley of boulders and ledges. Some of the stream crossings can be a bit challenging and almost all of them are cascading with small waterfalls. The trail then follows a long narrow outcrop for a bit and through a grove of mountain laurel before coming out to Sand Hill Road. Turn right here and follow Sand Hill Road several hundred feet to Green Fall River. Just before the road crosses the river turn left onto the trail. Follow the blue blazed trail through an area of hemlocks and soon you will come to a cairn. In this area the blue blazed trail enters into the Green Fall Gorge. The river in the gorge rushes over boulders as the narrow trail climbs up and down the narrow and steep embankments. There is a new bridge, built in the summer of 2017, that replaces a tricky river crossing in the gorge. Before the bridge, the crossing was logs that tended to be slippery. As the trail continues you soon come to the dam and waterfall of Green Fall Pond. The trail climbs up the bank on the right side of the dam to the pond. Swimming is not allowed at this end of the pond but the spot makes for a good resting location before carrying on. The Narragansett Trail now joins the Green Fall Pond trail and is blazed both blue and orange along the shore of the pond. The trail first crosses over a dike before coming to a split. Stay to the left and continue to follow the blue blazes. Soon you will come to the “Tree Bridge”, a small wooden bridge that crosses the Green Fall River that has a tree in the middle of it. Shortly thereafter, the trail splits again. Be sure to follow the blue blazes to the right to stay on the Narragansett Trail. The blue/orange blazes that continue ahead are part of the Narragansett Crossover Trail. You no longer want to follow the orange marks. After making your turn you will head east for just under a mile to the Rhode Island border. Along the way, the trail becomes challenging in areas crossing the Green Fall River again and the Peg Mill Brook. At the brook is an old sluice where the Peg Mill once stood. The water seems to vanish into the ground here. A few feet up and around the bend the water reappears trickling out of the rocks creating waterfalls. The trail then comes to a large set of outcrops with deep crevices. It is best to sit and slide down the rocks here as they tend to be quite high and sometimes slippery. The trails then crosses a small boardwalk, up another hill and soon joins the Tippecansett Trail. Stay to the right. From here the trail is now blazed blue and yellow and follows the Connecticut/Rhode Island border weaving from side to side. Along the way is a spot known as Dinosaur Caves. The Narragansett Trails traverses over the hump of the massive outcrop. The caves are below that can be accessed from a spur trail after climbing over the outcrop. After Dinosaur Caves, the trail becomes significantly easier as it winds down to Camp Yawgoog Road. Across the road from the small parking area in the large granite State Line Marker between Voluntown, Connecticut and Hopkinton, Rhode Island. The blue blazes of the Narragansett Trail ends here as you leave Connecticut. The Narragansett Trail is blazed yellow the remainder of the way into Rhode Island.

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In The Green Fall Gorge (note the trail blazes on the right of the river)

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  • State Line Marker to Ashville Pond
  • Features Camp Yawgoog, Long Pond, & Ashville Pond
  • Hopkinton, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°31’36.64″N, 71°47’31.82″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 23, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.8 miles (including spur to overlook)
  • Difficult, Strenuous in areas with some rock climbing.

The Narragansett Trail continues from the State Line Marker, now blazed yellow, easterly along Camp Yawgoog Road for about two tenths of a mile. The trail then turns right, opposite the Hidden Lake trail-head, into Camp Yawgoog. From here the trail continues through the Boy Scout Camp along the western shore of Yawgoog Pond passing over a few small streams and areas of boulders. The stream crossings are well maintained with log and timber bridges. The Narragansett Trail along this side of the camp is part of the “Round The Pond Trail”. A green blazed trail appears on the right, continue ahead on the yellow blazed. The trail soon nears the pond where you can get a good look of the pond. Across the way you can see the beaches used by the Boy Scouts They are Sandy Beach, Medicine Bow, and Three Point. Continuing, the trail passes by Blueberry Swamp and through groves of mountain laurel before coming to Cooning Orchard. This area is where several of the camps trails intersect. The Narraganset Trail is now joined by the red blazed trail for a while. This is the “George Utter Trail” and will be blazed both yellow and red for a short section passing through more mountain laurel and rhododendrons. The red trail soon turns right to the Rim Trail and the Richmond Boulder Field. Continue to follow the yellow blazes of the Narragansett Trail and you will soon come to North Road where you will turn left. Following the road to the east for about two tenths of a mile, you will come to a small parking area for Long Pond /Ell Pond. The remainder of this hike is on the property of the Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society, and the Department of Environmental Management. Turning right and through the small parking area, continue to follow the yellow blazes. The trail now heads into one of the states most densely populated areas of mountain laurel. In mid June, this stretch is stunningly beautiful. In fact, it is one of the most beautiful stretches of trail, not only in Rhode Island, but in New England. The hike also gets substantially more difficult, at times strenuous, from this point forward. The trail starts to climb steadily uphill, scrambling up rock outcrops and wooden stairs. The well intended “No Rock Climbing” signs tend to be a little bit humorous as parts of the trail you have no choice but to climb down and/or up rocks. With that being said, watch your step as you climb down into a small valley before scurrying back up a large outcrop. At the top of the hill there is a small area that opens up. The blaze indicates that the Narragansett Trail turns to the right. But if you have come this far, you are in the “neighborhood” of quite possibly the most beautiful sight in Rhode Island. A spur trail, that is not blazed, leads to the left. It is highly suggested to take the time and explore this trail as it leads down and then back up to a massive ledge. When you approach the wall of rock, stay to the left of it, as there is a way up the left side of it. Choose your steps carefully and exercise caution. Once to the top, take a breather and stay a while. The view is stunning as it overlooks Long Pond. A scene in the movie Moonrise Kingdom was filmed high upon this ledge. After taking in the sights retrace you steps back to the yellow blazed Narragansett Trail to continue the hike. The trail next traverses down a large, beautiful cleft that competes with some natural wonders of the mountains of Northern New England. After descending to the base the trail becomes a boardwalk that crosses a swampy area and stream that connects Ell Pond to Long Pond. At the end of the boardwalk the trail climbs the first of three quite substantial hills. Take your time here and take breaks as needed. This stretch will test your stamina and muscles. With Long Pond now to your left the trail continues to climb up and over a few hills. At times you may need to crawl or climb. The trail eventually levels out some, though hills will remain common, they are just smaller. The trail soon follows large sections of outcrop surrounded by the woods. Large boulders become prevalent with one, looking like the front of a ship, standing out. Stone walls appear on your right as Long Pond vanishes on the left and soon you come to the Canonchet Road trail head. The Narragansett Trail continues, still yellow blazed and bending to the right, making a short westerly loop before turning to the east once again. More stone walls and boulders are a common sight along this last stretch. The trail comes to a large flat outcrop where you turn to the right and then cross a rather high boardwalk. Soon you will get your first glimpses of Ashville Pond to the left. The trail turns to the right near the former Ashville Pond Beach and ends at the parking area on Stubtown Road.

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Long Pond From The Overlook

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The Cleft

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

I would like to thank Auntie Beak for her help with the planning and logistics of this hike. It has been a pleasure to take on the Narragansett Trail with you. I look forward to tackling more long distance trails with you in the future. I would also like to thank the members of the Providence County Hiking Club who joined me on this venture.

For more photos of this hike, please go to the Trails and Walks Facebook page.

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)

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.