Archive for the ‘ ~WEST GREENWICH RI~ ’ Category

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.

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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

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