Archive for the ‘ **Featured in Rhode Island Monthly** ’ Category

Hidden Lake – Hopkinton/Voluntown

  • Hidden Lake
  • Camp Yawgoog Road, Hopkinton, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°31’32.87″N, 71°47’21.05″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 4, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.2 miles
  • Fairly easy with some moderate terrain, rocky in areas with some climbing.

 

The beautiful property, just north of Camp Yawgoog, is nearly pristine. The property is privately owned by the Rhode Island Boy Scouts, but the trails are open to the public. There is signage at the parking area that depicts this. For this hike, a loop, I parked at a small parking area with a sign for Hidden Lake.  I decided to eliminate the small road section of the hike first which resulted in me doing this loop in a clockwise direction. This would also save the lake views for the end of the hike. From the parking area I followed Camp Yawgoog Road west about 1/5 of a mile following the yellow blazes along the road. Soon, I found the yellow and blue blazes indicating the turn to the right. This trail is in fact the southern end of the Tippecansett Trail, as well as a portion of the Narragansett Trail. The trail is narrow but very well maintained. It meanders through boardwalks, outcrops, and through root bound areas as it straddles the Connecticut/Rhode Island border, continuously crossing back and forth into each state. I soon approached an area of large outcrops, boulders, and ledges. The trail seems to go downhill and around the towering ledge. The blazes, however, have you going over the outcrop. Following the blazes, I made my way to the top of the outcrop. This area is known as Dinosaur Caves. I then continued along the trail, eventually coming to a split. The trail to the left is the blue blazed Narragansett Trail, heading west into Connecticut towards Green Fall Pond. The trail to the right is yellow and blue blazed. There is a sign here indicating that it is the Tippecansett Trail. I turned right here and climbed down the very rocky trail. The trail soon comes to another large outcrop and the trail blazes split here. The yellow blazes of the Tippecansett Trail head to the left and the blue blazes continue straight. Along with the trail I had been following, the remainder of the blue blazed trail ahead of me is part of the Yawgoog Trail. After continuing on the blue blazed trail for a bit, I came to an intersection. The blue blazed trail turns right here. The trail to the left is the unmarked “Hill 431 Trail”. I turned right. This section of the hike is quite level and easy as it gently traverses downhill over a long stretch. This trail ends at the next intersection, where I turned right onto the white blazed trail that would lead me to Hidden Lake. This area becomes hilly again and the trail eventually splits at another outcrop. The option is yours on which way to go. The two trails join again on the other side of the lake. I choose to turn left going down another steep hill. The trail winds up and downs small hills before coming to a picnic area. Here there is a small rock peninsula that juts out into the lake. After spending a moment taking a few photographs and observing the ducks I continued along the white trail. The trail crosses over a spillway before joining the “other white trail”. Turning left here, I soon found myself back at the car.

Trail map can be found at: Hidden Lake.

Hidden Lake in Hopkinton

Hidden Lake in Hopkinton

This trail was featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine – October 2014

This trail was featured in RI Local Magazine – May 2015

Steere Hill Farm/Heritage Park – Glocester

  • Steere Hill Farm/Heritage Park/Phillips Farm
  • Putnam Pike, Glocester, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°53’38.41″N, 71°36’39.10″W
  • First Time Hiked: July 13, 2014
  • Last Time Hiked: May 31, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 5.5 miles
  • Moderate with some elevation.

 

 

This morning I ventured into another Glocester Land Trust property with the Providence County Hiking Club. This property is in fact comprised of several properties including Steere Hill Farm, Phillips Farm, and Heritage Park. We started the hike from the parking area along the Putnam Pike which is at utility pole 70, following the red rectangle blazed Steere Hill Trail. We passed an area of cattails and several shrubs with berries. We then turned right onto the orange triangle blazed Stone Dam Trail. We encountered some warning signs about hunting on abutting properties. I would suggest wearing orange during hunting season. The aptly named trail crosses the stone dam and continues through the woods. At the next intersection we turned right onto the purple dot blazed Ridge Trail which meandered through areas of outcrops and ledges. We stayed on the Ridge Trail to its end, coming across a geocache, before we turned right onto the blue rectangle blazed Cart Path. Then we turned right at the four way intersection onto the red rectangle blazed Steere Hill Trail once again. At the next split we veered right toward the white rectangle blazed Heritage-Steere Trail. This trail connects Steere Hill Farm with Heritage Park and passes first through a field before heading back into the woods. Along the trail we encountered several shrubs of raspberries and blackberries. Needless to say, this was a haven for birds. We then made our way to the purple triangle blazed Inner Loop of Heritage Park for a quick stop by the Shepard’s Hut. From here we headed toward the Heritage Park entrance then continued on the blue triangle blazed Outer Loop West Trail, passing a tree decorated for Christmas, back to the Heritage-Steere Hill Trail. (Heritage Park itself could be a short 1 to 1.5 mile hike for those seeking a shorter walk). We then retraced our steps for a bit before turning right onto the orange rectangle blazed Woodworth Trail. This trail first wanders through the woods before it starts climbing up Steere Hill, passing some old stone walls, a stone structure that may have been used as an animal pen and eventually comes to some open fields. Near the top of the hill there is a tree with a bench. The view from here is spectacular. It overlooks a field of tall grass and flowers and you can see the rolling hills of northern Rhode Island in the distance. Some of the flowers here included thistle, milkweed, coneflower, tickseed, and black-eyed susans to name a few. The trail here was full of butterflies, grasshoppers, and dragonflies. I could also here the songs of crickets in the tall grass. I will return here for the autumn foliage for photography reasons more so than the hike. I think this location could be “that” picture. From here we made our way down the hill following the red rectangle blazed Steere Hill Trail back to the four way intersection. Here we turned right onto the blue rectangle blazed Cart Path through some more fields before passing a stone wall and back into the woods. We then turned right onto the white dot blazed Field Trail towards Phillips Farm. The trail first went through an area of fern covered forest before opening up to the field that was once Phillips Farm. Along the way we stumbled across an old cemetery. The headstones had no markings. At the end of the Field Trail we turned right and made our way back to the parking area. Here we came across a toad on the way out. There are a few stream crossing along this hike. However, it has been fairly rain free the last few weeks (with the exception of the Independence Day washout) here in Southern New England. Some of the streams were bone dry. I do suspect that in times of rain some of these crossings could be a little challenging.

Trail map can be found at Steere Hill Farm/Heritage Park.

Shepards Hut At Heritage Park

Shepards Hut At Heritage Park

The View From Steere Hill

The View From Steere Hill

This trail was featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine – October 2014

Westconnaug Meadows – Scituate

  • Westconnaug Meadows
  • George Washington Highway, Scituate, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°46’0.18″N, 71°40’18.46″W
  • First Time Hiked: May 18, 2014
  • Last Time Hiked: August 23, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.3 miles
  • Easy with slight elevation.
 

Just outside of the village of Clayville is Westconnaug Meadows. This property, owned by the Scituate Land Trust, offers a short trail that is just over a mile long. It is a good hike for beginners and children. The trail head is at the parking area for the ball fields on George Washington Highway. The trail enters the woods by the stone wall. There is a sign here at the trailhead. The trail first crosses two small boardwalks before turning right into the thick of the woods and slightly uphill. This first section can tend to be a little muddy in wet conditions. Along the way there are several signs describing the types of trees such as the black oaks, red oaks, white pines and sassafras, to name a few. The trail then comes to a fork. Stay to the left here and follow the trail downhill a bit. The trail soon starts bearing right and slightly uphill. This part of the trail is a loop. You will soon see yellow blazes on trees to your left. This marks the property of the Scituate Reservoir – you are not allowed to cross onto that property. There is small overlook along this stretch that gives you a view of the property to the west. If you look closely you will see a small stream below. The trail slowly takes a series of small right turns passing some boulders left behind from the days of glaciers. Soon the trail returns to the fork. Here, you turn left retracing your steps back to the parking area. The entire trail is marked with brown plastic trail markers and is very easy to navigate. The property is well-preserved and well-maintained by both the Land Trust and the Conservation Commission. I was tremendously surprised by this hike – I may chalk this one up as one of the most peaceful, serene and quiet hikes I’ve enjoyed yet. About midway into the hike, I found myself in complete silence – other than the sounds of the chirping birds and the breeze blowing through the various types of trees. Without any doubt, I would consider this one of Rhode Island’s best kept secrets.

I did not find a trail map on-line for this site.

At Westconnaug Meadows

At Westconnaug Meadows

This trail was featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine – October 2014

This trail was featured in RI Local Magazine – April 2015

Ballard Park – Newport

  • Ballard Park
  • Hazard Road, Newport, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°27’53.96″N, 71°19’26.23″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 24, 2014
  • Previous Visits: February 20, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.8 miles
  • Easy with some significant elevation.
 
 

First Visit:

The days are getting longer. Enough time to drive from Providence to Newport after work and do a short hike before the sun sets. I opted to start this hike from the Hazard Road entrance. After following the entrance road into the property I came to a sign with a trail map on it. Shortly after the sign I followed a path to the left and then almost immediately left again and followed the Southwest Trail as it meandered uphill to the General Hazard Overlook. I spent a few moments here watching the sun set over Newport before I continued the hike following the outer perimeter of the park. I then followed the Swamp Maple Trail walking along the boardwalks until I got near the main entrance. I came across some deer tracks in the snow at this point. I turned right here and stopped at the Quarry Overlook. This is a shear 30 foot cliff overlooking an open meadow and vernal pool. Note that there is no rock climbing allowed here. On this particular day there was plenty of activity below. Volunteers were setting up for the 9th Annual Illuminated Garden event. I then continued my hike going by a large rock outcrop and then turning left to follow the Quarry Rim Trail back to the entrance road and to the end of this hike. If you would like to add more distance to this hike there are a couple other trails to explore. I found Ballard Park to very clean and well maintained. The Friends of Ballard Park protect and preserve this property and apparently several events happen here each year. I did stay around for a while to check out and take some photos of the Illuminated Garden.

Second Visit:

I had returned to Ballard Park with a friend, her child, and her child’s friend for an event. During the event I made good use of the large boulder in the quarry to sit and soak up some of the spring sun. After the event we had went for a hike on the trails here. Again this hike started from the Hazard Road entrance and then we turned left and followed the trail to the Hazard overlook. This time, however, we turned right onto a trail the would lead to the edge of the quarry. We stopped at the quarry overlook before following the eastern edge of the quarry along a path that would eventually lead back down to the meadow near the vernal pool. After a quick stop at the vernal pool, we followed a trail on the backside of it up the hill, then turned left and followed it downhill to the entrance.

Trail map can be found at: Ballard Park.

Quarry Meadow From East Edge - Apr. 2014

Quarry Meadow From East Edge – Apr. 2014

This trail was featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine – October 2014

Ben Utter Trail/Stepstone Falls – Exeter/West Greenwich

  • Ben Utter Trail/River Trail – Arcadia Wildlife Management Area
  • Plain Road, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°35’51.47″N, 71°44’48.16″W
  • First Time Hiked: April 17, 2013
  • Last Time Hiked: October 25, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.2 miles
  • Easy with some rock scaling and slight elevation.

 

The Falls River at Stepstone Falls is easily one of the most scenic locations in Rhode Island and it is the highlight of this hike. It starts in Exeter just south of the town line, but the majority of the hike is in West Greenwich. The hike starts at a small parking area just after the second river crossing bridge along Plain Road in Exeter (approximately 2.3 miles west of Frosty Hollow Road). The trailhead is marked with a sign for the trail. I followed the trail, blazed both yellow and blue at this point, along the west bank of the river that had several log waterfalls. (The blue blazes are for the North South Trail). The trail also crossed a few streams on small wooden bridges, then heads up a small hill with stone steps almost immediately going back downhill to the right down some more steps. In this area there are remains of an old gristmill. I continued following the trail until it came out to a dirt road. The trail then immediately went right back into the woods, still blazed both yellow and blue. I then followed the trail through an area of mountain laurel and past the ruins of yet another mill. The trail then starts to turn away from the river a bit and climbs slightly uphill. At the next intersection I opted to take the trail to the right, with a sign calling it off as River Trail, blazed blue and white, back to the water. (The path to the left, blazed yellow, I would use on the way back). The rocky white trail eventually made its way to a bridge that crossed the Falls River at the bottom of the Stepstone Falls. After crossing the river and reaching the east bank, I turned left and followed the path to its end at Falls River Road stopping occasionally to venture to the edge of the river to see the falls. I then crossed the bridge at the road to the west bank and saw the yellow and blue blazed trail marked by signs for both Ben Utter and Tippecansett trails, but first I did some off trail sightseeing of the falls. After about 10 or 15 minutes of relaxing and picture taking I continued along the yellow and blue blazed trail uphill toward an old pavillion. At this point the yellow and blue trails split. I followed the yellow trail downhill through a wooded area that was a haven for woodpeckers. This trail came back to the intersection of the white/blue trail from earlier. I then followed the path to the slight right (almost straight) back onto the path, both blue and yellow blazed, and retraced my steps back to the car.

The Ben Utter Trail is the trail from the center right of the map to Stepstone Falls as shown on: Ben Utter Trail

Stepstone Falls - April 2013

Stepstone Falls – April 2013

Stepstone Falls - October 2014

Stepstone Falls – October 2014

This trail was featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine – October 2014

Connors Farm – Smithfield

  • Connors Farm Conservation Area
  • Connors Farm Road, Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°54’16.92″N, 71°33’45.34″W
  • First Time Hiked: April 14, 2013
  • Last Time Hiked: November 13, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.6 miles
  • Moderate with areas of significant elevation.

 

I did not come across much information on-line about this hike, but it is by far one of the best kept secrets in Rhode Island. Starting at a small parking area tucked away between 20 & 24 Connors Farm Road I entered the conservation area. A couple of minutes in I came to the first intersection. At each intersection there is a trail map with a “You Are Here” tag and the paths are very well marked. At this point I turned right onto the red trail. The red trail crosses a small brook at a wooden bridge then continues along the shore of a small pond that has several birdhouses on poles. Toward the end of the pond there is a spur to the right if you want an unobstructed view of the pond. Continuing back to the red trail I came to the next intersection. Here I opted to follow the blue trail. This trail started at first with a slow ascent going by a spectacularly long stone wall. As it bends around to the left the ascent increases. In this area the blue trail splits. To the left was the “Lower Trail” and to the right was the “Cave Trail” both marked as blue. Curiosity kicked in at this point. Cave Trail it was. This section was a bit of a workout as the incline increased more. The trail was narrow and ran along the edge of glacier formations with small caves. I actually had thought to myself that this section would be quite dangerous in wet weather. After the caves the “Lower Trail” rejoined the “Cave Trail” and then the blue trail gave one last challenge of ascent before ending at the yellow trail. I then turned left onto the yellow trail. (More distance could be added to this hike by turning right at this point.) I followed the yellow trail as it winded through the woods until its end at the red trail. Take some time here. The views are spectacular and you get an idea of how much elevation you have climbed so far. Don’t get too close to the edge though. After a short sightseeing break I then proceeded to the right and followed the red trail around a loop to the left, past a wild cranberry bog on the right (I will be back in the fall to check that out), large boulders and outcrops to the left, down to a stone bridge which crosses the stream, and then just a little further to the entrance path on the right. So far, one of the best hikes this year!

I could not find a trail map on-line. See below, I took a picture of one.

Cave Trail

Cave Trail

Connors Trail Map

Connors Trail Map

This trail was featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine – October 2014