Archive for the ‘ ~WESTERLY RI~ ’ Category

Shelter Harbor – Westerly

  • Shelter Harbor Conservation Forest
  • Westerly, RI
  • Trailhead: Undisclosed
  • Last Time Hiked: May 4, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.4 miles
  • Fairly easy, slight elevation. Roots and rocky in places.

 

This wonderful, lesser known forest tucked away in Westerly offers quite a bit. There are four blazed trails (blue, yellow, red, and white) that wind though the woods crossing gently flowing streams. In fact there are several stream crossings along the route of the hike. There is also an old dam that once formed a reservoir for the nearby neighborhoods drinking water supply. Today, it serves as a piece of local history and yesteryear’s craftsmanship. This property also offers several large rocks and boulders. The property is not open to the public unless a guided walk is given. The Westerly Land Trust offers walks every Thursday morning from the autumn to the spring. On occasion they will lead a hike on this property.

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The Old Dam at Shelter Harbor

Wahaneeta/Woody Hill – Westerly

  • Wahaneeta Preserve/Woody Hill Management Area
  • Moorehouse Road, Westerly, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°21’59.84″N, 71°45’34.04″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 14, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 5.1 miles
  • Moderate.

 

Splendid! This hike of just over five miles is on two adjacent properties. The Wahaneeta Preserve is owned by the Westerly Land Trust. It was once a girl scout camp and today is open to the public with a very well blazed network of trails. The bordering state owned Woody Hill Management Area is stunningly beautiful in its own right. The trails and dirt roads here are for the most part not blazed so using a GPS device and a reliable map are highly recommendable. For this hike, myself and fellow hiker Auntie Beak followed, for the most part, a friends track that he had done recently. Starting from the parking area off of Moorehouse Road we first followed the road up to the lodge before venturing onto the blue trail. This trail heads east following a stone wall before looping back toward the west. We then turned right at the white trail, crossed a small boardwalk before coming to a split in the trail. Here we stayed to the right following the white trail. Ahead is a sign for Shady Shelter. To the left there is a short yellow blazed trail that leads to a quite impressive overlook of a valley below. Be very cautious along the top of this ledge. From here we retraced our steps back to the white trail, turned left, and continued to follow it to the next split. Here we stayed to the right now following white blazes with a black dot. This is the perimeter trail and it follows a stone wall that serves as the property line between the preserve and land owned by the Narragansett Indian Tribe. Soon we crossed another boardwalk and passed an area of ferns before coming to a massive sweet black birch tree. The tree is a champion and there is a sign here explaining its significance. After passin the tree the trail bends to the left before coming to the next trail intersection. We turned right here at the opening in the stone wall onto an unmarked trail. At this point we were entering the Woody Hill Management Area. Next we came upon a cellar hole on the left. Opposite the cellar hole is the beginning of a blue dot blazed trail that we followed. This trail heads east first passing an old homestead. Here there is a couple cellar holes, a series of stone walls, and a well that is right along the trail. Be cautious not to fall into the well when the ground is covered by leaves or snow. Continuing along the blue dot trail we soon crossed another stream before coming to another stone wall to the right. The property on the other side is that of the Narragansett Indian Tribe once again. The next section of the trail is flanked in a ground cover known as club moss. The trail then soon comes out to a dirt road where we turned right. We then followed the stone covered dirt road for a bit soon coming to a four way intersection where we turned left onto another dirt road. We followed this road continuing straight at the next four way intersection. The road then curved to the left at the next intersection where we stayed to the left. Soon a pond becomes visible to the left. There are several narrow trails to the right. Be sure to stay on the main trail that follows the pond. We then came to an earthen dam with the pond to the left and a swamp to the right. Part of the dam appears to have been washed out and this will likely be impassable during a wet or rainy season. At the time of this hike it was passable. After crossing the dam the trail turns left following the shore before turning right and into the woods once again. This part of the hike leaves the management area briefly and is actually on land owned by the Town of Westerly. The trail climbs up and over a small hill and then narrows. Staying to the left the trail then passes an arm of the pond as it approaches a large rock outcrop. The trail then turns to the left. Start looking for a stone wall. Once you pass it, turn left again. This trail will lead you to the next intersection where we turned right onto a wider trail. This trail leads you back into the management area. Stay on this trail ignoring the few narrow side trails. When we approached the next intersection we turned left. We then followed this trail for a bit until we came to the “H” intersection. Here we stayed to the right and then turned immediately left onto a fine gravel road with a stone wall along its right edge. As this road starts to turn left and uphill we turned right onto a narrower trail opposite an old maple tree. This trail is grass covered and first crosses a stream. Soon the trail is flanked on both sides with stone walls. The trail soon bends to the right and becomes significantly narrower for a few hundred feet before widening again into a wider grass lane. Soon the trail comes to a wide stone wall flanked road where we turned left. You will see a gate ahead. After passing the gate we found ourselves on Fern Road, a paved road in a residential neighborhood. We then turned left onto a trail after Blossom Court opposite pole number 52. The trail is rather narrow at first passing through areas of mountain laurel. Continuing straight we then crossed another small stream before climbing uphill a bit and passing a couple stone walls. Soon after the second wall there is a pile of quarried stones. Soon we came to the cellar hole opposite the blue dot trail once again. From here we continued straight back into the Wahaneeta Preserve. At the next intersection we continued straight on the old dirt road crossing the white trail twice. At the second crossing we turned left onto the white trail following a manmade ridge before coming to a wood bridge by the pond. Immediately after the pond the trail veers to the left passing an old fireplace before emerging into a meadow. From here several trails meet including a trail back up to the lodge and a dirt road back to the parking area. Before leaving though, we decided to follow the orange trail a few hundred feet, then right onto the yellow trail to check out an old chimney. From here we retraced our steps back to the meadow and made our way to the parking area. Both the preserve and the management area are open to hunting. Wearing orange is a must during hunting season.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Wahaneeta and Woody Hill

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Road at Woody Hill

 

Wilcox Park – Westerly

 

In the southwestern corner of Rhode Island is the quaint, but bustling, town of Westerly. The center of town offers many little shops and small restaurants among the towns government buildings. The highlight of the towns center is Wilcox Park which has a little over a half mile of walking paths, flower gardens, and towering trees of ash, cedar, cypress, birch and white oak. There is also a gazebo that has a very unique feature, that being an inverse ceiling. Fountains, a duck pond, and statues are also here including the Hikers Monument, honoring the soldiers of the Spanish America War and the Boxer Rebellion. The most famous statue here however is that of the Runaway Bunny. The bronze statue is named after the childs book by Margaret Wise Brown who also wrote Goodnight Moon. The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Wilcox Park

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“If you run away, I will run after you” Runaway Bunny (Margaret Wise Brown)

Aguntaug Swamp – Westerly

 

At the end of Pound Road is one of the newest trails in the state. It is a short quarter mile, stone dust path that is handicap accessible. The path is unique in that it leads to some of the most inaccessible terrain in the area. The entire trail is surrounded by a swamp that offers a variety of plant life and song birds. At the end of the trail is a viewing platform that looks over the swamp.

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Wildflowers By The Swamp

Champlin Glacier Park – Westerly

  • Dr. John Champlin Glacier Park
  • Newbury Drive, Westerly, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°20’35.79″N, 71°48’22.56″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 21, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.5 miles
  • Moderate.

 

 

Champlin Glacier Park offers several trails that climb up and over hills that flank a valley. Starting the hike from the northern parking lot on Newbury Drive we followed the white blazed trail to the informational kiosk. Here is a trail intersection. We turned left following the green trail uphill. We passed several stone walls before coming to the blue trail intersection. Here we continued straight (slightly left) and followed the blue trail to Charlies Overlook. From here you can see the Atlantic Ocean over both Winnapaug Pond and Misquamicut. After a brief break we continued along the blue blazed trail passing a pond. Shortly thereafter we turned left onto the white blazed trail passing another pond. At the next intersection we turned onto the orange trail (the one to the right) and it led us along a narrow ridge overlooking a valley below. The trail ended at the kiosk. We then retraced our steps to the parking lot.

 

 

Trail map can be found at: Champlin Glacier Park.

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Sunrise at Charlies Overlook.

Quonochontaug Beach – Westerly/Charlestown

  • Quonochontaug Barrier Beach Conservation Area
  • Spray Rock Road, Westerly, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°19’40.60″N,  71°44’58.62″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 7, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.4 miles
  • Easy beach walk.

In the 20th century, Mother Nature dictated the fate of this beach. Much like Napatree, after the two hurricanes (1938 and 1954) it was decided that rebuilding would not be allowed here. The beach, nearly two miles in length, is a pristine stretch of natural beauty wedged between the village of Weekapaug in Westerly and Quonochontaug in Charlestown. It is a barrier beach that protects a salt pond. The beach and conservation area is in fact privately owned but open to walking. Be sure to follow the rules posted on the signs. I choose the beach today partly for two reasons. First, I would be in the area for a later engagement, and secondly, after weeks of relentless snowfall I wanted to find a place where I could go without snowshoes and get my feet back on the ground. It was a fairly warm day in comparison with a slightly cold breeze, but most importantly, it was a sunny day. I could easily see Block Island to the south. The sand dunes and most of the beach was covered in nearly a foot of snow but the tides had cleared a section to walk along. I parked in the first lot just off of Spray Rock Road and found a marked path to the beach. Then I headed east to breachway. There were only a few others out enjoying the scene here. I came across several cormorants and geese as well as seagulls. After reaching the breachway, I retraced my steps back to the parking area. Parking is very limited here. Therefore, off season visits are probably the best times to come here.

I did not find a trail map on-line.

Where Winter Meets Spring.

Where Winter Meets Spring.

Riverwood Preserve – Westerly

Riverwood Preserve in Westerly is a property nestled between the Pawcatuck River and the railroad tracks near Chapman Pond just east of Route 78. Access to the property is at the end of Boy Scout Drive by a gate at the entrance to the Quequatuck Boy Scout Camp. Parking is available along Old Hopkinton Road and you must walk to the entrance. We then passed the kiosk and followed the short entrance trail to orange loop trail. At the orange trail we turned left and started heading in a northerly direction. Soon the trail hugged the shore of the Pawcatuck River occasionally passing some mountain laurel. The trail features stone walls and boulders as well. It also crosses some wet areas and small streams with makeshift log bridges. We came across a cellar hole as well. When we came to the blue trail, we followed it first through a ravine and then up the hill. The blue trail is a loop the circles the higher part of the property. It is a little rocky and can be slightly challenging. It offers some spots that have decent views of the surrounding area including Chapman Pond. There is also evidence of quarrying that was once done here. We also stumbled across some deer along this trail. After completing the blue loop trail we continued on the orange loop trail. The trail first nears the railroad tracks then turns northerly along a flat leisurely stretch. The hill to the right features some ledges and more boulders. Soon we were back at the entrance trail. From here we retraced our steps back to the car.

Trail map can be found at: Riverwood.

Stone Walls Along The Orange Trail

Stone Walls Along The Orange Trail