Archive for the ‘ ~VOLUNTOWN CT~ ’ Category

Dark Hollow Brook – Voluntown/Griswold

  • Dark Hollow Brook
  • Hodge Pond Road, Voluntown, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°32’28.76″N, 71°51’27.01″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 16, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.0 miles
  • Moderate due to navigation, some significant elevation.

 

If you like stone walls and ledges, this is the hike for you. I met with fellow hiker Auntie Beak for this mid afternoon hike in the Pachaug State Forest in Connecticut. She has done this hike on several occasions and it was nice to relax and just follow her lead. The trails here are not blazed, therefore it is recommended to obtain a copy of the map for the forest trails and use GPS. (If you use Auntie Beaks map, linked below, note that we did the southern portion of her overall hike). Starting from the parking area just west of Kinney Brook along Hodge Pond Road we followed the old dirt road south into the forest. The first part of this hike you will continue straight along the main road ignoring side trails. After climbing uphill for a bit we came upon an old stone building. The stone work is quite impressive. Continuing along the old dirt road, immediately following the stone building is an open field with flowers. It appears this might have once been a garden. Further ahead is a seasonal brook and waterfall to the right. Soon after there are some beautiful ledges as well. At the end of the road turn right and start heading northwest. You will start to see more impressive ledges along this stretch. At the next intersection merge to the left. The trail becomes much more primitive and narrow at this point as it meanders through a forest of rocks and boulders. Ahead, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, you will come to a bridge that crosses Dark Hollow Brook. At the next two trail splits stay to the left. You are now in the Town of Griswold. Ahead stay to the right, the trail now winds as it climbs uphill toward an old farm site. The trail soon becomes flanked with stone walls. Take your time here and look around. There is a well here and several old farm tools abandoned years ago. The trail soon comes to another dirt road. Stay to the left here and follow the road back to the paved Hodge Pond Road. Turn right and follow the paved road downhill back to the parking area. You will pass a cemetery along the way. Hunting is allowed here and blazed orange is required during hunting season.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Dark Hollow Brook

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Trail Flanked By Stone Walls

Mount Misery – Voluntown

  • Mount Misery – Pachaug State Forest
  • Cutoff Road, Voluntown, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°35’36.73″N, 71°52’3.15″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 9, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.8 miles
  • Moderate.

This out and back hike, short in mileage, traverses over two hills in the Pachaug State Forest. At the top of the second hill, the 441 foot Mount Misery, is a rather impressive overlook. Starting from a parking area near the entrance of the Rhododendron Sanctuary, first follow the light blue blazes of the Nehantic Trail along Cutoff Road west towards the open gate. After passing the gate you will see a “Smokey the Bear” sign on the left. The blue blazed trail enters the forest here. The trail first meanders through an area of young pines covering the forest floor. Above are the older, towering pines. The trail then begins it climb up the first hill. After cresting the first hill the trail descends into a small valley where a boardwalk crosses a seasonal stream. Shortly after the boardwalks the trail climbs Mount Misery. At the top of the hill to the left is the overlook. This overlook looks east over the forest towards Rhode Island. Along the trail at the top of the hill you will also find a benchmark disk. The Nehantic Trail continues ahead a short distance to another parking area. After enjoying the view retrace your steps back to the parking area. Visiting the Rhododendron Sanctuary also adds an additional half mile to this hike.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Mount Misery

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View From Mount Misery.

Rhododendron Sanctuary – Voluntown

  • Rhododendron Sanctuary – Pachaug State Forest
  • Cutoff Road, Voluntown, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°35’37.42″N, 71°52’3.42″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 5, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.5 miles
  • Easy.

If there is one hike in the area that is all about timing it is this one. The short, level, out and back, quarter mile trail leads you through an area of dense rhododendrons. These shrubs bloom in late June to early July and the vast cluster pink flowers are spectacular. The trail is mostly gravel based and boardwalks. Along the trail there are swamps with frogs and turtles. There is also an abundance of ferns covering the forest floor. The trail ceases at Misery Brook. This hike would be a good companion to other nearby hikes including Mount Misery.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Rhododendron Sanctuary

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Blooming Rhododendron

Tippecansett South – Exeter/Voluntown/Hopkinton

  • Tippecansett Trail South
  • Ten Rod Road, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°34’25.48″N, 71°47’7.67″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 15, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 5.5 miles
  • Moderate to difficult, some strenuous spots.

 

The southern end of the Tippecansett Trail starts at Beach Pond and ends 5 and a half miles south at the state line marker along Green Falls Road near Hidden Lake. The hike can be quite challenging at times especially at the beginning and the end. The trail is well blazed in yellow and, for the most part, easy to follow. The hike described here is a one way trail and a car spot is required. After leaving the small parking area on the south side of Route 165, we found ourselves traversing the eastern edge of Beach Pond. The trail has several small ups and downs and is quite root bound as it passes several boulders along the waters edge. Soon you will come to a large outcrop that juts out into the pond. This is a good spot for viewing the pond. The trail then continues as it starts to make its way around the southern edge of the pond. After crossing a small wooden bridge large ledges loom to the left. They are quite impressive among the forest of pines and hemlocks. Soon you will come to a trail intersection. Ahead is a sign and the white blazes of the Deep Pond Trail. To the left you will see a rock with the word “LOOKOUT” painted on it and a trail that leads to the Hemlock Ledges Overlook. (Well worth the climb if you have never been up there). For this hike, turn right here and continue to follow the yellow blazes of the Tippecansett Trail. The trail first descends back down towards the pond before turning away and heading westward. This stretch is rather rocky and slightly uphill almost in its entirety. The trail then comes to an old dirt road. Turn left here and follow the road passing the blue blazes of the Hemlock Ledges Trail on the left. A little further up the road the trail turns right and heads for the state line. You will find survey markers along the trail as you approach the state line. The trail then crosses Noah’s Arc Road and starts to follow an old road that straddles the state line for a bit before turning back into Rhode Island and the southwestern extremities of the Arcadia Management Area. The trail then comes to Route 138 at the Exeter/Hopkinton border. Following the yellow blazes still, the Tippecansett follows the busy highway for a couple hundred feet before turning off onto a dirt road across the street. The street has a few homes along it. At the time of this hike we were first “serenaded” by a pair of hounds, and then greeted by a black lab at the next house. The trail shortly thereafter makes an abrupt right onto Boy Scout property. The trail on the property winds quite a bit. Be sure to follow the yellow blazes and avoid making turns on unmarked trails. This area is also in abundance of mountain laurel and rhododendron and the trail at times is quite literally a tunnel through these magnificent shrubs. Soon the trail comes to a large table rock. The trail blazes are now at your feet along the rocks. A (darker) blue blaze trail now joins the yellow blazes of the Tippecansett. This is where the trail becomes quite strenuous in spots. From this point forward as well you will want to follow the yellow and blue blaze trail as there are some spurs that use the same color blazes. You will soon approach a rather impressive upward climb. Take your time and make the right steps. This one is easy in comparison to the next. After making the climb the yellow and blue blazed trail turns to the left. The trail to the right is part of the Narragansett Trail that leads towards Green Fall Pond. Follow the trail south toward the next climb, when you get to it take a good look at it first. If you are not comfortable with the climb there is an unmarked trail to the left that loops around Dinosaur Caves. After climbing up the trail you will then be up on the very large boulders that make up Dinosaur Caves. The trail then descends down the other face of the large boulders and continues south ending at Green Fall Road. This is the end of the Tippecansett Trail and where your second car should be parked.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Tippecansett South 1 & Tippecansett South 2.

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Some Climbing Along The Tippecansett.

Hell Hollow – Voluntown/Plainfield

  • Hell Hollow – Pachaug State Forest
  • Hell Hollow Road, Voluntown, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°38’14.19″N, 71°52’9.77″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 13, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 7.6 miles
  • Moderate due to distance and some rocky footing.

 

For such a sinister name, Hell Hollow is quite a beautiful place, especially this time of year in Southern New England. Many of the trees here are approaching peak foliage. The splashes of reds, oranges, and yellows make for a nice backdrop of the two ponds along this hike. I joined a fellow hiker/blogger for this hike. We started from a parking area on Hell Hollow Road at the pond. We then headed east along the road about 1/10 of a mile then turned left onto the blue blazed Pachaug Trail. We followed this trail until we reached an intersection with the blue going to the right and yellow to the left. We were now in Plainfield. Here we went left onto the yellow blazed Quinebeag Crossover Trail. The trails here are covered in leaves and can be rocky in areas as they wind through areas of oaks, pines, and stream beds. Be sure to keep an eye on the blazes as the trail becomes a little difficult to follow at times due to ground cover. We did come across a coyote here, unfortunately for this animal, it was just the remains. This section of trail soon ends at Flat Rock Road. We turned left, still following the yellow blazes, and followed the road to a split. Here we stayed to the left and followed the short section of what was left of the yellow blazes. We then found ourselves at the next intersection. This was the Quinebeag Trail. If we were to turn right the trail would lead us to Lockes Meadow Pond. We continued straight (now a blue blazed Quinebeag Trail) still following the aptly named Flat Rock Road. We soon came to areas of ledge that the road traversed over. To the left is a small overlook. At the time of the hike there were to many leaves on the trees, but I was told the view is decent in the winter months. We then continued turning left off of Flat Rock Road following the blue blazes. If you reached the paved road, you have missed the turn. From here we followed the Quinebeag southerly a little over a mile passing a cellar hole at the trail intersection about halfway through this section. The footing is a little tough here as the trail is very rocky in areas. We soon found ourselves back at Hell Hollow Road. (You can turn left here and follow the road back to the car if you want to cut the hike in half.) Here we turned right following the road a bit before turning left into the woods again continuing to follow the blue blazed Quinebeag. The trail then makes a small horseshoe before coming to the next turn. This turn was not easy to find as the trail blazes are quite faint here. A couple hundred feet before the road the Quinebeag turns to the left. It is a very narrow trail along this stretch but still better than walking the road. Fear not though if you can not find it, just follow the road. They run parallel and both come to a picnic area a little over a mile away. After some slight backtracking, we found the trail and carefully proceeded being sure to keep an eye on the blazes. The trail is quite nice meandering at times through a grove of young pines. We did have to cross a rocky area that appears to normally be a difficult stream crossing. We soon came to the picnic area. Here we stopped for a quick break. The picnic area overlooks Phillips Pond which is quite smaller than Hell Hollow Pond. From here we then made our way onto the road crossing the small stream, then left through the parking lot and onto the blue/red blazed Phillips Pond Trail. Soon we were turning left onto the blue blazed Pachaug Trail once again for the final stretch of the hike. Again we were in areas of pine groves. Some of the ground cover included wintergreen, partridge berries, and a variety of mushrooms. At the end of the trail we turned left onto the road and followed it to Hell Hollow Pond where the cars were parked. This area is open to hunting. Orange should be worn during hunting season. Futhermore, sections of Hell Hollow Road are closed from December to March.

 

Trail map can be found at: Hell Hollow.

Foliage at Hell Hollow Pond

Foliage at Hell Hollow Pond

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

Green Fall Pond – Voluntown

  • Green Fall Pond – Pachaug State Forest
  • Green Fall Road, Voluntown, CT
  • Trailhead: 41°31’22.96″N, 71°48’30.96″W
  • Last Time Hiked: August 30, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.8 miles
  • Moderate with rocky footing and root bound trails in areas.
  • Difficult and at times challenging in the gorge. Use caution along steep banks.

 

This would be my first of many planned ventures into the Pachaug State Forest in Eastern Connecticut. Green Fall Pond I found to be one of the more tranquil hikes that I have taken thus far. It was also a perfect summer day. From a parking area on Green Fall Road (not on some GPS units), a fellow hiker and I started by following the blue blazes of the Narragansett Trail into the forest. The immediate first part of this hike is very easy as the trail winds through an area covered with fern. We then came to a rather large cairn. The fairly wide trail that we were following appears to go uphill and into an area of pines. I will refer this trail (which is not shown on the map I’ve linked) as the “high road” aptly dubbed by a fellow blogger (who was ironically here today as well). We would return on that trail. At this point we veered to the right continuing to follow the blue blazes into the gorge. This part of the hike is rather challenging as the trail leads you through an area where you must jump for boulder to boulder, do some rock scaling, and even some little bit of climbing in areas. The Green Fall River runs through the gorge adding some more challenge to the hike. It has been a tremendously dry summer in Southern New England this summer and the river at the time of this hike was almost just a trickle. I did, nonetheless, slip at crossing the river at one point. Good thing for waterproof boots. At the end of the gorge there is a 40 foot high dam. The trail leads you uphill to the right of the dam. From here we got our first glimpse of Green Fall Pond. There is a loop trail that follows the perimeter of the pond that is blazed blue/orange. There are several areas that have scenic views of the pond. We started by going to the right (if you are facing the pond) following the blue/orange blazes. Along this stretch we came across a couple walking their dog and a few people fishing. I chatted briefly with the people fishing. They informed me that there were bass and pikes in the pond but had only caught some sticks thus far. Continuing along the loop trail we saw some chipmunks and squirrels as well as dragonflies and crickets as the trail passed areas of stone walls and an earthen dam that had field like features along the top of it including several shrubs with berries. The blue blazed Narragansett Trail then continued straight. We continued following the blue/orange blazed loop trail the veered off to the left and along the banks of the pond. The trail crossed a small stream at a footbridge before eventually coming to a dirt road at a camp site. The camp site is a “first come first serve” camp and fees are collected in the morning. We turned left onto the road stopping briefly at the beach area. (Swimming is allowed at this beach). Following the road, turning to a paved road and uphill for a bit, we passed the trail heads of both the Pachaug Trail and the Nehantic Trail. We also passed the boat launch for Green Fall Pond and another parking area before we found the sign for the trail to head back into the woods. The trail, still blazed blue/orange, then followed the west shore of the pond. This section of trail was rather rocky and root bound. We found ourselves scaling some rocks in areas here. The trail eventually came back to the dam. We then followed a stone covered road to the right uphill as it arced to the right. Near the top of the hill we took a left onto the trail I referred to earlier as the “high road”. This lead us back to Green Fall Road just to the west of the gorge. It eventually merged with the blue blazed trail. From here we retraced our steps back to the car.

 

Trail map can be found at: Green Fall Pond.

In The Gorge

In The Gorge

Green Fall Pond

Green Fall Pond