Archive for the ‘ ~WEST GREENWICH RI~ ’ Category

Big River – West Greenwich

  • Big River – Big River Management Area
  • Nooseneck Hill Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°38’53.88″N, 71°36’25.88″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 27, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 5.4 miles
  • Moderate, Difficult navigation without map or GPS.

In the 1960’s several local residents were forced to leave their homes here in the area of Big River. The State took the land by eminent domain to build a reservoir. The reservoir, first planned in the 1920’s, was never built and today the large and sprawling property is considered open space with a maze of trails, small streams, ponds, and cellar holes. With that being said, as with all of the Big River property, it is suggested not to wander here without a map, GPS device, or someone who knows the property well. For today’s hike we were led by Sandi of the Appalachian Mountain Club who guided us through the heart of Big River on a nearly five and a half mile trek. Her knowledge of not just the trails, but the history of the property is astounding. I would highly suggest keeping an eye out for any future hikes she may lead here. We started from the main parking area along Nooseneck Hill Road (a quarter mile south of Route 95). From here we followed Burnt Sawmill Road into the Management Area along the paved road until we reached a gate. The pond, with dam and waterfall, on the left is Capwell Mill Pond, fed by both the Carr River and Mud Bottom Brook. Continuing along Burnt Sawmill Road, we were flanked by old trees and telephone poles. At pole 24 a trail, an old cart path, veers to the left. We took it following the old cart path through pine groves and maples before crossing a stream at a wooden bridge that has seen better days. The trails continues, climbing a small hill, passing a couple of stone walls, and a few young pines on the forest floor below the towering ones. The trail splits and narrows, here we stayed to the right and soon came to another trail intersection where we stayed to the right once again. At the next intersection we stayed to the left slightly and then continued straight. The trail to the right would lead you back to Burnt Sawmill Road. Continuing ahead we came to a cellar hole and well on the left. It is not easy to see from the trail and if you do find it, be sure to use caution by the well. The next highlight of the hike comes up on the right. It is the Sweet Family Cemetery with graves dating back to the 1750’s. The trail then passes through another pine grove. This one is quite noticeable as the trees have grown very densely close to each other. Soon after there is a spur trail on the right that leads to the dam on the north end of Sweet Pond. The dam is now breached, intentionally, and Sweet Pond is no more. It is now just a stream through a grass filled basin. Retracing steps back along the spur trail we then turned right, southerly, along the trail we were previously on. Next we came to Sweet Sawmill Road, another old road. Here we turned right and soon passed the south side of the remnants of Sweet Pond. This stretch is flanked by some stone walls and ferns. At the next intersection, a four way, continue straight ahead. A few hundred feet ahead at the next intersection turn right. This is Burnt Sawmill Road once again. Following this road to its end will lead you back to the parking area. Along the way we would come across another cemetery and a former homestead with the only evidence left being a tire swing. Before concluding our hike we did explore a trail to the right that led to a stream that flows between the former Sweet Pond and Capwell Mill Pond. Wildlife is abundant here as it is not uncommon to see deer, coyote, squirrels, chipmunks, and turtles. The property also is carpeted by ferns and wildflowers with birdfoot violet and wild geranium being in bloom at the time of this hike. This is a popular hunting location as well. Orange is mandatory during hunting season.

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

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Sweet Sawmill Road

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Dam and Waterfall at Capwell Mill Pond

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Matteson Plain – Exeter/West Greenwich

  • Matteson Plain – Arcadia Wildlife Management Area
  • Matteson Plain Road, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°35’53.32″N, 71°42’37.66″W
  • Last Time Hiked: August 21, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.8 miles
  • Moderate.

 

This hike, relatively short in distance, can be quite challenging due to footing. Starting from a parking area near the end of Frosty Hollow Road (Straight ahead as Frosty Hollow Road ends at Austin Farm Road), first pass the gate and then head north on Matteson Plain Road. The first mile of this hike climbs uphill, into West Greenwich, on the old road that is predominantly loose stone and gravel passing Newman Trail on the right. Along the way on the left you will notice several “No Trespassing” signs. This is the Camp-E-Hunt-Tee property and is not open to the public. At the top of the hill (around the one mile mark) you will notice yellow blazes indicating a turn to the right. Follow the yellow blazes. This is part of the Breakheart Trail and will lead you to the Newman Trail. This segment is all down hill and tends to be a little rocky. It is much easier footing than the first mile. Stay on the yellow blazed trail when you come to the trail crossing at the small footbridge. Ahead you will see some stone walls and eventually a trickling brook. The yellow blazed Breakheart Trail turns left at the north end of Breakheart Pond. Take a quick peek. It is a nice view, but you will be turning right here (west) onto Newman Trail. Now heading west you will first pass the Hicks Trail to the left, continue straight. You will soon pass another trail from the right, again continue straight. Soon you will see a hill ahead of you. There should be a trail to your left here. Turn left and take it. It is unmarked, lesser traveled, and leads through a beautiful fern covered forest back into Exeter and to the parking area.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Matteson Plain

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Matteson Plain Road at Breakheart Trail

Reynolds Pond – West Greenwich

  • Reynolds Pond – Big River Management Area
  • Fish Hill Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°39’35.06″N, 71°37’41.94″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 16, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.6 miles
  • Fairly easy.

 

I have been exploring lesser known areas of the State Management Areas the last couple of hikes and I am convinced that the wildlife are quite content with being in these areas. Being mid to late afternoon I was surprised to run into deer. Not just one, but several. And furthermore, they didn’t seem to concerned of my presence. For this hike I followed a trail into the Big River Management Area from the bend on Fish Hill Road. Following the trail south I passed a sandy area to the left while making my way to the first split in the road. Here I turned left and then continued straight passing a cart path to the right. With a map in hand I intended to loop the pond, but soon found that the pond had overflowed onto the trail. At the time of this hike it was impassable. So after a quick peak at both Reynolds Pond and Big River I retraced my steps back to the last intersection. Here I turned left and followed the cartpath for a bit before making another left. This trail leads down to the southern side of Reynolds Pond via a trail that runs along Big River. Soon I was just shy of the spot I was before that was overflowed. From here I retraced my steps back to the car. Besides deer, I saw turtles, chipmunks, various birds, and kayakers!! It is highly suggestible to obtain a copy of the Great Swamp Press map of Big River before making your way into the area.

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Reynolds Pond

Shelter Trail/Frosty Hollow – Exeter/West Greenwich

  • Shelter Trail/Frosty Hollow
  • Frosty Hollow Road, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°35’16.69″N, 71°42’33.17″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 18, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 6.2 miles
  • Moderate with some significant elevation.

 

This 6 mile hike takes you through some of the most serene parts of the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area and can be a bit of exercise as well. The hike starts from the Frosty Hollow Pond Fishing Area parking lot in Exeter. First, head out to the road and turn right crossing the bridge over Breakheart Brook. After the bridge immediately turn left onto the white blazed trail. The trail first follows the shore of Breakheart Brook for a bit before turning away from it and up towards a camp site. After passing the camp site follow the white blazes to an old road on the left. You will follow this road until it starts turning downhill. Look for a trail on the left. Turn here following the white blazes. This section will lead you through a beautiful stretch of pine trees. The older tower well above you and younger trees cover the forest floor. Among the birds you may hear the sound of the Flat River in the distance. The trail then comes to an open field in which you pass through. After passing the field you will come out to Austin Farm Road. Turn left here and cross the bridge over the Flat River. Then look for the trail on the right with the white blazes. This is the continuation of the Shelter Trail and leads into West Greenwich. Be sure to follow the white blazes through this section as there are several spur trails and roads. The trail climbs a hill and soon you will find yourself at the ruins of an old campsite. There are several buildings left here as well as a water tower and the remains of a fireplace. Continuing on you will next look for a trail to the left with a sign that reads “Penny Cutoff”. Turn left here and follow that trail to its end. It will lead you through a valley of boulders and uphill to the Breakheart Trail. If you care to climb to the top of Penny Hill, turn left here and follow the yellow blazes to the top of the hill. For this hike, however, turn right, and follow the yellow blazes of the Breakheart Trail until you reach the Shelter Trail. Turn right and follow the white blazes of the Shelter Trail pass the Penny Cutoff, the ruins of the camp, and back to Austin Farm Road. Turn left and follow the road back over the Flat River and look for the second gate on the right. (The first gate is the trail you came in on). Turn right at the second gate and follow the unmarked grass covered road for a bit. Soon the Shelter Trail rejoins it and you will follow the white blazes back to your car.

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Along The Shelter Trail

Fry Pond – West Greenwich

  • Fry Pond Conservation Area
  • Victory Highway, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°38’25.96″N, 71°41’14.01″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 6, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.3 miles
  • Moderate with some significant elevation and rocky footing.

 

Fry Pond is a West Greenwich Land Trust property located behind Town Hall. The property is located along the face of a hill that stretches down to Fry Pond itself. Although there is no actual trail to the shore of the pond, the property offers trails that meander through the woods a strew with boulders. The hike that I took was just a little over 2 miles and climb up and down through the boulder fields. Starting just beyond the pavilion behind West Greenwich Town Hall, the white blazed trail makes it way to a service road. After turning left onto the service road, you will soon pass a soccer field on the right. Shortly thereafter a trail appears on the left. It is still white blazed and starts to descend toward the loop trail. There are several informational plaques along this stretch explaining the features. I decided to remain on the white blazed trail passing the yellow trail to the right. When I reached the loop trail I stayed to the left and started to follow it clockwise. There is a spot where you can view the pond, but access to it is not available. When I reached the intersection of the yellow trail I opted to follow it out. This trail is moderately difficult climbing up and down the face of the hill. At the end of the yellow trail I turned left and retraced my steps back to the trailhead.

 

Trail map can be found at: Fry Pond.

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White Blazed Trail At Fry Pond

Breakheart Hill – Exeter/West Greenwich

 

This hike covers some of the lesser used trails in the Arcadia Management Area. It is a rather lonely hike. The hike has some significant ups and downs and footing is a little unstable in areas. But there is unexplained beauty in this area, there are several stream crossings and the sound of the trickling water and wind through the tall pines can be a little settling. It is secluded. It was the hike I needed to take at this moment in time. Starting from a small parking area along Ten Rod Road I started my trek into the woods first following the Bliven Trail. The first four tenths of a mile are uphill and will increase you heart rate. The trail, an old road, then descends downhill coming to the first stream crossing. At the time of this hike it was flowing at a decent rate. Another trail soon appears on the left just after the stream. I would return on that trail. For now, continue straight, passing a gate. There is a house ahead to the right and what appears to be a driveway ahead. This is in fact the beginning of Breakheart Hill Road. After passing the stable on the right you are now back on an old dirt road. It is slightly narrower than the Bliven Trail and again I was heading uphill. Soon you will notice a pipe (painted orange at the time of this hike) on the right. This is a property marker and is just about where the trail enters West Greenwich. Continuing ahead you will notice some boulders to the left. At the row of boulders turn left and just beyond them is the beginning of the Newman Trail. At this point you are just about at the top of Breakheart Hill. It was here I saw a chipmunk. It seem as fast as she appeared, she disappeared. Continuing down downhill, the trail becomes quite challenging for footing. Be sure to exercise caution here. When the trail reaches the bottom of the hill stay to the left. The trail is now blazed yellow. It is part of the longer Breakheart Trail that reaches into the depths of the management area. Following the yellow blazes you will see Breakheart Pond through the trees to the right and soon thereafter you will come upon a small waterfall on the left. The trail then curves to the right. A trail appears on the left, you want to turn here. (If you want a view of the pond continue straight for a few hundred feet). After making the turn left the trail, which is part of Austin Farm Road, you will notice some interesting stone walls flanking the trail. After gradually climbing uphill you will come to another stream crossing. Shortly thereafter, turn right and retrace your steps back over the hill to the car.

 

 

Trail map can be found at: Breakheart Hill.

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Along Austin Farm Road

Bates Loop Trail – West Greenwich

  • Bates Loop Trail – Tillinghast Pond Management Area
  • Plain Meeting House Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°38’20.97″N, 71°44’42.38″W
  • Last Time Hiked: January 3, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.7 miles
  • Fairly easy with some slight elevation.

 

The newest addition to the Tillinghast Pond Management Area is the Bates Loop Trail. The trail opened late in 2015 and loops around the southern end of the property. Starting from the Hell’s Gate trail-head, the red blazes lead you through a short section of woods before crossing Plain Meeting House Road. From here you pass a cellar hole then turn behind the remains of what appears to be a barn. This is the Bates Family Homestead. The trail then splits. Here we continued straight following the red blazed trail as it gently climbed up and over small hills. The area is strewn will stone walls and boulders, oddly shaped at that, as we passed through groves of white pine with an occasional pitch pine. Near the eastern end of the property we came across a pile of stones before coming to Phillips Brook. To the right is the double red blazed crossover trail that follows the brook. We would explore that later. For now, we crossed the bridge and continued to follow the single red blazes through a beech grove and then onto an old road. Along the road there is signage indicating that you are along the University of Rhode Islands property. After a short trek along the road the red blazes turn to the right back into the woods, downhill a bit, following a stone wall for a short section, before coming to a dam. There is a small pond to the left and Phillips Brook is to the right. Just after the footbridge, we turned right to explore the quarter mile crossover trail. This short stretch is another of Rhode Islands beauties. There are a series of small waterfalls and cascades along the trail. After following the crossover trail to its end we retraced our steps back to the dam, then continued straight following the single blazed trail once again. The trail led us through another pine grove with towering trees before returning us back to the Bates Homestead. From here we retraced our steps back to the parking area.

 

 

Trail map can be found at: Bates Loop Trail.

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Waterfalls Along The Crossover Trail