Archive for the ‘ ~WEST GREENWICH RI~ ’ Category

Mud Bottom Brook – West Greenwich

  • Mud Bottom Brook – Big River Management Area
  • New London Turnpike, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°37’4.38″N, 71°35’46.70″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 16, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.5 miles
  • Moderate, navigation can be difficult.

 

 

First and foremost, I would advise not to attempt this hike without a map, GPS tracking, good sense of direction, or all of the above. I personally have ventured into Big River enough times to feel comfortable enough to wander its many, many, many trails. To say Big River has a vast network of trails is a gross understatement. For this hike I took a wrong turn along the way and found myself on a trail that was not on the Great Swamp Press map and found myself relying on GPS tracking and my internal compass to make my way back to a main trail. (My guest did a great job at remaining calm!!) With that being said, I am going to attempt to recall my route, but please don’t rely on this post alone if you attempt this hike. From the parking area at the end of New London Turnpike by the Wincheck Gun Club we passed the gate and followed the pine tree flanked dirt road for about four tenths of a mile. Turning left the trail then winds downhill to its end. Here we turned right onto a trail called Sweet Sawmill Road. This trail climbs slightly uphill passing some stone walls on the right. At the next intersection we turned left and followed that trail just under a half mile to its end. The trail widens at its end, stay to the right here. The trail then declines slightly into the valley that Mud Bottom Brook runs through. Along the way, after a heavy rain, you may encounter some large puddles along this trail. At the next intersection stay to the right and again right a little further down the trail. This trail will lead you to the crossing at Mud Bottom Brook. There is a wobbly plank and stones here to make the crossing easy. From here we continue ahead until we came to a “T” intersection. The trail in both directions at the time of this hike was blazed blue. The blazes are amateur and not by any means the type of blazes seen at Arcadia. We turned left here and still feeling confident we were on the right track and started to follow the blue blazes. At the next intersection is where I suspect the plan went out the window. We came to the intersection realizing it was not on the map. Thinking we might have been a little further north, I suspected the trail to the left might be the second crossing of Mud Bottom Brook. We turned right here thinking it would continue along the edges of the peninsula are eventually turn south paralleling  the Carr River. It did not! (I do not actually know where the trail to left leads, that will be a hike for another day). After turning right we soon came to another intersection, again blue blazed. We turned right and followed it nearly a mile up and down hills, zigzagging back and forth to its end. This stretch was actually quite pretty. We passed stone walls, a rather large natural looking swale, and hunting stand along the way. At the intersection at the end of the trail blue blazes go to the right. Using the internal compass at this point we turned left and then almost immediately left again and then right just up ahead. The trail we were on would lead us back to the New London Turnpike trail. Turning right onto the sandy road it veers slightly to the right before curving to the left and straightening out. Ahead the sandy road splits again. Stay to the left here. This is the trail back to the parking area just under a mile away. The remainder of the walk climbs slightly uphill along the wide New London Turnpike. Be sure to wear orange here during hunting season.

 

Map can be found at: Mud Bottom Brook.

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The Crossing At Mud Bottom Brook

Big River Quarry – West Greenwich

  • Big River Quarry _ Big River Management Area
  • Division Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°38’56.62″N, 71°34’27.20″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 9, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.2 miles
  • Fairly easy.

 

This hike follows the perimeter of Rhode Islands Desert. Yes! Desert! This part of Big River is actually an abandoned quarry and gravel pit with large areas of sand, dunes, and pine trees. With all of Big River, there are no blazed trails here and there are plenty of side trails. For this hike, I followed the “trail” that currently appears on Google Maps and the Map My Hike app. To access it follow the gravel road into Big River from Division Road. There will be three paths to the right. The first is quite narrow, the second much more defined, and the third is just as defined. Ignore the first two and turn right at the third. This will lead you to the “trail” on the app. For almost the remainder of this hike you will follow the trail on the app. If you are not using an app, this is a great place to wander around, keeping tree lines of  the perimeter as a basic guide to the hike. Following the trail, you will first come upon a pond before winding through areas of pine trees. You will catch glimpses of the dunes along the way. As the trail reaches its western extent it turns to the south and then through an area of low shrubs and grass. Back and forth through the pines, the trail then turns and follows the eastern edge of the desert. Near the end of the trail just before it turns onto Hopkins Hill Road turn left and follow the path downhill to the gravel road you entered on. Turn right here and follow back to the parking area.

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Rhode Island’s Desert

Capwell Mill Pond – West Greenwich

  • Capwell Mill Pond – Big River Management Area
  • Burnt Sawmill Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°38’39.57″N, 71°36’27.08″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 17, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.7 miles
  • Fairly easy with some difficult navigation.

 

This is yet another beautiful hike in the Big River Management Area. The trails here are numerous, unmarked, and can be difficult to navigate. With that being said, it is not advisable to do this hike without a reliable map, an understanding how to read it, a sense of direction, and absolutely be sure to use GPS tracking in the case you need to back track. This hike starts from a small parking area along Burnt Swamp Road before the gate by the Capwell Mill Pond Dam. It is about three tenths of a mile from Nooseneck Hill Road. After passing the gate you will see the dam on the left. Shortly after the dam follow the narrow trail to the left. It climbs slightly uphill into a grass field before winding into the tall pines. Soon a trail comes in from the right. Stay to the left here and you will cross a bridge. The view, overlooking a tributary of the pond is quite pleasant. After the bridge the trail splits, continue straight. The trail slowly climbs uphill through a lush forest of pines. Be aware of your trail intersections for this walk. At the next trail intersection continue straight again following the main trail. You will continue to climb slightly uphill. This section of trail can be quite wet after a heavy rain. You will soon pass a stone wall. Just after the wall is a narrow path to the left. Ignore it for this hike and continue ahead. You will soon pass a second stone wall and then the trail winds a bit before coming to a large boulder at a trail intersection. This is about the one mile mark. Ignore the trail to left and continue straight on the main trail as it starts to bend to the right. Slow down and start looking for the next trail intersection about one tenth of a mile after the large boulder. As the trail starts to turn to the right by a mossy rock with a tree growing on it there is a trail on the left. It is narrow, but defined enough to be noticed. Turn left here and follow the trail as it starts downhill. Soon the trail ends at another well defined trail. There will be a white blaze on the tree at the intersection. Turn left here. In a few yards you will come to another intersection with a tree blazed white. You will want to continue straight, but first follow the trail to the right to the bridge crossing the stream called Mud Bottom Brook. The slight detour is well worth it. Take a moment here. The babbling brook drowns out all other nearby sounds and you are out in the middle of nowhere nearly a mile from any civilization. Return up the hill to the tree with the white blazes and turn right. After making the turn and following the trail you will pass a stone wall on the left. The stone wall then flanks the trail to the right for a bit before the trail starts to descend downhill leaving the stone wall behind. The trail then starts its slight bend to the left passing a boulder in the middle of the trail. The boulder is a good reference point and is just the right height to sit for a moment and take in the nature around you. From here the trail continues downhill and bending to the left. You will start getting your first glimpses of the pond through the trees on the right. Passing another stone wall the trail splits. They rejoin in a few yards where the trail splits yet again. At this split stay to the right. There is also some mountain laurel scattered around in the area. Continuing ahead the pond is still to the right through the trees and there is another stone wall on the left. The trail turns to the left crossing the stone wall and then to the right meandering to and from the pond. A trail soon comes in from the left, stay to the right and continue to the end of the trail. Turn right and you will cross the bridge overlooking the tributary of the pond once again. Just after the bridge turn right onto the trail that will lead you back to the dam and parking area. Blaze orange is required during hunting season.

 

Map can be found at: Capwell Mill Pond (Map 1), (Map 2).

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Pines, Stone Walls, And The Pond.

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

 

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

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