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

Smith Farm – Dartmouth

 

What a pleasant surprise of a property. One must say that the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust has some beautiful properties. Just down the road from Cornell Farm is Smith Farm. In comparison the trail system at Smith Farm is much shorter than Cornell but it is well worth the visit. The front end of the property offers a series of stone walls and what appears to be foundations. Starting by following the red blazed trail, you soon enter the woods. Among the deciduous trees are several holly trees and shrubs. The red trail soon comes to a large open field with one prominent pine tree. Follow the path across the field to continue following the red blazed trail. The next section of woods offer some swamps, wetlands, and stone walls. Next follow the blue blazed trail around Horseshoe Pond. It crosses several trickling streams as it follows the ponds edge. At the time of this hike I had come across an owl and several ducks. After following the blue blazed trail around the perimeter of the pond turn left at the red blazed trail and follow it to its end. Turn left and follow the orange blazed trail to its end. There you will find an observation platform that overlooks Nonquitt Marsh. From here follow the orange blazed trail back, staying on it to the parking area. It follows an old cart path road passing several stone walls and a vernal pool.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Smith Farm

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Field at Smith Farm

Stetson Preserve – Richmond

  • Stetson Preserve
  • New London Turnpike, Richmond, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°32’56.50″N, 71°39’28.17″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 4, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.8 miles
  • Easy with some elevation.

 

Along a quieter stretch of the New London Turnpike is a quaint little preserve that offers a short trail system. Although short, this preserve is well worth a visit if you are in the area. The terrain is slightly hilly and the property is scattered with large rocks and boulders under a canopy of deciduous trees. There are two blazed trails that cover essentially all of the small property. The blue blazed trail loops around the perimeter and offers a glimpse at Beaver River. The yellow blazed out and back trail leads to a hill top with a sitting area. The rocky terrain and stone walls made the property a haven for chipmunks. Birds were also in abundance here, spotting and hearing several woodpeckers and blue jays. The property is quite comparable to the nearby Beaver River Preserve. In fact only a few hundred feet of private property separate the two properties. This hidden gem of a property is good for kids and beginners, as well as a nice supplemental walk to Beaver River. A must do!!!

 

Trail maps can be found at: Stetson Preserve

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Along the Blue Trail

King Preserve – North Kingstown

  • King/Benson Preserve
  • Boston Neck Road, North Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°30’56.02″N, 71°25’23.72″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 25, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.5 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

 

Named for Dave King, the first executive director of the Champlin Foundations, this is Rhode Islands newest Nature Conservancy property that now has trails open to the public. It is so new in fact that the trails in the Benson Preserve property are still under development. The property is just north of Casey Farm and stretches from Boston Neck Road westward to the Narrow River. The blue trail from the main parking area meanders westerly into the property, passing stone walls and small boulders, for about a mile before coming to the yellow trails. Turn left at the yellow trail and follow it to its end. Along the way look for a rather unusual rock on the right that seems to point. You will pass a yellow trail to the right as well. You will return on this trail. At the end of the yellow trail you will come to a four way intersection. The yellow loop trail is to your immediate right and a trail spurs to the left to Casey Farm. Ahead and to the right is the white blazed Pettaquamscutt Trail. Follow this trail to two of the preserve features. The first on the left is a small beach that overlooks Narrow River. This is an old Girl Scout Camp beach. Back on the white trail you will soon find yourself walking through a canopy of tall spruce trees. Here we spotted a fox. The white blazed trail then turns to the right and comes to a set of trickling waterfalls. Continuing along the trail you soon cross onto the Benson Preserve. There is signage indicating that the trails are still being developed. From here you can retrace your steps or forge ahead follow the un-blazed trails. If you choose the later be sure to use some sort of GPS in case you need to backtrack and be very aware of your footing. The white trail is blazed for a few more hundred feet. Soon you will see a trail to the right. It is currently marked with pink survey flagging. Following this flagging (soon to be blazed white) and carefully following the currently less defined trail you will come to a wood footbridge at a stream crossing. A few feet after that you will turn left onto the blazed yellow trail. Follow this trail to its end turning left again onto the main yellow trail. From here retrace your steps back to the parking area following the yellow then blue trails. Hunting is allowed on this preserve, be sure to wear orange during hunting season.

A note about the bordering Casey Farm property: Casey Farm is open to the public during daylight hours for hiking trails at Casey Point or those adjacent to King Preserve. Please note dogs must be on leashes, clean up of course, and respect the young people and farm animals by keeping dogs away from the farmyard and fields. Access Casey’s woodland trails via the King Preserve. Camp Grosvenor is not open to the public for hiking. Access Casey Point on Narragansett Bay via the gate on Boston Neck Road. We are working on getting better signage. Feel free to contact me with any questions: Jane Hennedy, site manager, 401-295-1030 ext. 5, jhennedy@historicnewengland.org.

 

Trail maps can be found at: King Preserve

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Spruce Grove

Browning Woods Farm – South Kingstown

  • Browning Woods Farm
  • Shannock Road, South Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°24’47.16″N, 71°36’22.06″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 30, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.1 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

 

At the extreme western edge of South Kingstown lies Browning Woods Farm. This property, owned by the South Kingstown Land Trust, was part of the original Pettaquamscutt Purchase of 1657 and belonged to the Browning Family as far back as the early 1700’s. The farm was used mostly to raise animals such as sheep, cattle, and pigs. Today there is a two mile loop and a half mile access trail that winds through the property. There is quite an elevation change on the property but it is so gradual that it is almost unnoticed. The trail passes several stone walls and the Browning Homestead where there is an impressive cellar hole. There are several side trails and old woods roads that spur off the blue blazed loop trail. Be sure to stay on the well marked blue blazed trail. Along with maples and pines there are also holly trees and winterberry. Chipmunks and squirrels can be seen here as well as a variety of songbirds. This is a great hike for someone who is just getting started with local hiking as the trail is easy to follow and mostly flat.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Browning Woods Farm

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Stone Walls And Boardwalks

River Bend Farm – Uxbridge

  • River Bend Farm – Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park
  • Oak Street, Uxbridge, MA
  • Trailhead: 42° 5’38.86″N, 71°37’25.49″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 22, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.2 miles
  • Easy.

 

The big red barn and the wooden bridge over the canal are one of New England’s best known sights. In the barn, once part of a diary farm, is a rather impressive visitors center that has exhibits that explain the history of the area. For this hike, the second of four planned here, we followed the towpath from the covered bridge south to the Stanley Woolen Mill. The towpath follows the canal that was once used to transport goods from Worcester to Providence along the banks of the Blackstone River. Before taking this walk obtain a pamphlet (the one with the numbers in it) at the visitor center and take it with you. Along the walk you will find signposts with corresponding numbers on them. Be sure to take a peek at the river it self. This section of the towpath is a little over a mile long one way, flat, and is suitable for walkers and strollers.

 

Trail maps can be found at: River Bend Farm

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Towpath Along The Canal

Wahaneeta/Woody Hill – Westerly

  • Wahaneeta Preserve/Woody Hill Management Area
  • Moorehouse Road, Westerly, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°21’59.84″N, 71°45’34.04″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 14, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 5.1 miles
  • Moderate.

 

Splendid! This hike of just over five miles is on two adjacent properties. The Wahaneeta Preserve is owned by the Westerly Land Trust. It was once a girl scout camp and today is open to the public with a very well blazed network of trails. The bordering state owned Woody Hill Management Area is stunningly beautiful in its own right. The trails and dirt roads here are for the most part not blazed so using a GPS device and a reliable map are highly recommendable. For this hike, myself and fellow hiker Auntie Beak followed, for the most part, a friends track that he had done recently. Starting from the parking area off of Moorehouse Road we first followed the road up to the lodge before venturing onto the blue trail. This trail heads east following a stone wall before looping back toward the west. We then turned right at the white trail, crossed a small boardwalk before coming to a split in the trail. Here we stayed to the right following the white trail. Ahead is a sign for Shady Shelter. To the left there is a short yellow blazed trail that leads to a quite impressive overlook of a valley below. Be very cautious along the top of this ledge. From here we retraced our steps back to the white trail, turned left, and continued to follow it to the next split. Here we stayed to the right now following white blazes with a black dot. This is the perimeter trail and it follows a stone wall that serves as the property line between the preserve and land owned by the Narragansett Indian Tribe. Soon we crossed another boardwalk and passed an area of ferns before coming to a massive sweet black birch tree. The tree is a champion and there is a sign here explaining its significance. After passin the tree the trail bends to the left before coming to the next trail intersection. We turned right here at the opening in the stone wall onto an unmarked trail. At this point we were entering the Woody Hill Management Area. Next we came upon a cellar hole on the left. Opposite the cellar hole is the beginning of a blue dot blazed trail that we followed. This trail heads east first passing an old homestead. Here there is a couple cellar holes, a series of stone walls, and a well that is right along the trail. Be cautious not to fall into the well when the ground is covered by leaves or snow. Continuing along the blue dot trail we soon crossed another stream before coming to another stone wall to the right. The property on the other side is that of the Narragansett Indian Tribe once again. The next section of the trail is flanked in a ground cover known as club moss. The trail then soon comes out to a dirt road where we turned right. We then followed the stone covered dirt road for a bit soon coming to a four way intersection where we turned left onto another dirt road. We followed this road continuing straight at the next four way intersection. The road then curved to the left at the next intersection where we stayed to the left. Soon a pond becomes visible to the left. There are several narrow trails to the right. Be sure to stay on the main trail that follows the pond. We then came to an earthen dam with the pond to the left and a swamp to the right. Part of the dam appears to have been washed out and this will likely be impassable during a wet or rainy season. At the time of this hike it was passable. After crossing the dam the trail turns left following the shore before turning right and into the woods once again. This part of the hike leaves the management area briefly and is actually on land owned by the Town of Westerly. The trail climbs up and over a small hill and then narrows. Staying to the left the trail then passes an arm of the pond as it approaches a large rock outcrop. The trail then turns to the left. Start looking for a stone wall. Once you pass it, turn left again. This trail will lead you to the next intersection where we turned right onto a wider trail. This trail leads you back into the management area. Stay on this trail ignoring the few narrow side trails. When we approached the next intersection we turned left. We then followed this trail for a bit until we came to the “H” intersection. Here we stayed to the right and then turned immediately left onto a fine gravel road with a stone wall along its right edge. As this road starts to turn left and uphill we turned right onto a narrower trail opposite an old maple tree. This trail is grass covered and first crosses a stream. Soon the trail is flanked on both sides with stone walls. The trail soon bends to the right and becomes significantly narrower for a few hundred feet before widening again into a wider grass lane. Soon the trail comes to a wide stone wall flanked road where we turned left. You will see a gate ahead. After passing the gate we found ourselves on Fern Road, a paved road in a residential neighborhood. We then turned left onto a trail after Blossom Court opposite pole number 52. The trail is rather narrow at first passing through areas of mountain laurel. Continuing straight we then crossed another small stream before climbing uphill a bit and passing a couple stone walls. Soon after the second wall there is a pile of quarried stones. Soon we came to the cellar hole opposite the blue dot trail once again. From here we continued straight back into the Wahaneeta Preserve. At the next intersection we continued straight on the old dirt road crossing the white trail twice. At the second crossing we turned left onto the white trail following a manmade ridge before coming to a wood bridge by the pond. Immediately after the pond the trail veers to the left passing an old fireplace before emerging into a meadow. From here several trails meet including a trail back up to the lodge and a dirt road back to the parking area. Before leaving though, we decided to follow the orange trail a few hundred feet, then right onto the yellow trail to check out an old chimney. From here we retraced our steps back to the meadow and made our way to the parking area. Both the preserve and the management area are open to hunting. Wearing orange is a must during hunting season.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Wahaneeta and Woody Hill

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Road at Woody Hill

 

Francis Carter East – Charlestown

  • Francis C. Carter Preserve – East
  • Old Mill Road, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°25’56.23″N, 71°40’8.20″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 8, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.0 miles
  • Moderate due to some elevation.

 

The Francis Carter Preserve is a hilly sprawling tract of land in Charlestown and is large enough to split into two separate hikes. The eastern half of the preserve offers trails that wind through a forest covered in blueberry and huckleberry shrubs, stone walls, outcrops, and boulders. There are two entrances to the preserve as well. For this hike, we (fellow hikers) choose to start at the larger parking area along Old Mill Road. From here we followed a dirt road just a few feet before turning right onto the yellow blazed trail. This trail traverses across the property from one parking lot to the other. We followed it nearly to its end before turning left onto the red trail. Along the way we passed several stone walls, climbed up and over several small hills, while passing through a forest of beech, birch, and pines. The blue blazed trail three times comes to the yellow trail as we opted to ignore it at this point. There are also cairns along the yellow trail as well as some impressive rock outcrops. At the time of this hike we also came across a split boulder that was “dressed up” as a frog. Someone has added a couple smaller stones to give the large boulder the appearance that it had eyes and a tongue. We choose to ignore the short Split Rock Trail and then turn left shortly after onto the red trail. This trail heads north first paralleling Carolina Back Road before turning back to the west. It also climbs up and over several smalls hills as it winds through the forest. Along the red trail there is a small bench to sit for a break if you choose. You will also catch a glimpse of a pond just to the north. You may also catch a glimpse or at least hear the train come through on just the other side of the pond. At the end of the red trail we turned right onto the blue trail. Soon again you will catch another glimpse of the pond below. There are a couple unmarked spur trails that lead to the pond. At the next intersection there are two blue trails. They both lead to the yellow trail, we stayed to the right at this juncture. Soon we came to yet another intersection. An unmarked connector trail the western part of the preserve appears on the right. We continued straight following the blue blazed trail to its end. Here we turned right following the yellow blazed trail back to the dirt road. Turning left would lead us back to the parking area. Take a look around the area here. You will notice a cellar hole and an old water pump. There is also a restroom here. This preserve is open to hunting so wearing orange is a must during hunting season.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Francis Carter East

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Along the Yellow Trail