Posts Tagged ‘ Nature Conservancy ’

Block Island Southeast – New Shoreham

  • Block Island Southeast
  • Water Street, New Shoreham, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°10’24.56″N, 71°33’27.22″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 13, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.5 miles
  • Moderate with some elevation, optional strenuous stairs.

 

This walk from the ferry dock in Old Harbor leads to some of the most picturesque sights along the eastern seaboard. Though mostly road walking, the route visits the Mohegan Bluffs and the famous Southeast Lighthouse. In fact this route could easily be done on a bicycle if you choose to ride instead of walk. There are several bike rentals available on the island including Beach Rose Bicycles. Starting from the ferry dock turn left onto Water Street (southerly direction) towards the rotary with the Statue of Rebecca. At the rotary turn right onto High Street and start the slow climb uphill. Traffic tends to be busy here so stay on the sidewalk. The street is flanked by several cottages and B & B’s. On the left is a worthwhile stop. The Nature Conservancy’s Block Island office is here. There are maps available of the islands trails for a small fee. Just behind the Nature Conservancy building is the backside of Abrams Animal Farm which offers a collection of animals including goats, emus, lemurs, and kangaroos. Continuing along High Street you will come to the “last chance” for snacks, water, or supplies at the general store on the left. Ahead you will come to the Block Island School at the intersection of Payne Road. Continuing straight the road becomes Pilot Hill Road and continues to gradually climb uphill and eventually turns to a dirt road. At the top of the hill, 178 feet above sea level, is a monument to the pilots of Block Island. You will notice that the Dodge family dominates the list of names on the monument. Pilot Hill Road then passes John E’s Pond on the right. In May the shad brush that surrounds the pond (and most of the island) is in bloom. Soon Pilot Hill Road ends. Continue straight here and cross the main road into a dirt parking area. From here follow the short path to the first glimpse of Mohegan Bluffs. The view is quite breathtaking and reminiscence of Ireland. From this vantage point you can see the newly built wind turbines that supply power to the island. On clear days to the right you can see Montauk Point in New York. To the left you can see your next two stops, the stairs of Payne Overlook and the Southeast Light. To get to the Payne Overlook retrace your steps back to the main road and follow it to the east. In a few hundred feet there is a parking area with a large sign. The short trail here leads to the top of the stairs that wind nearly 200 feet below. At the end of the stairs, you can make your way down to the beach. It is highly advised to do this at your own risk. From here you get a sense of just how massive these bluffs are as the ocean waves break on the narrow strand. To the east from this point is the open Atlantic Ocean to Portugal. The next stop is the lighthouse. Start by retracing your steps, literally all nine flights of them, up the bluffs. Stop! Take a breather, then retrace your steps back to the road turn right and look for the Mohegan Bluffs monument on the right. The monument gives a short description of how the Mohegan Indians were driven off of these bluffs by the local Manissean Tribe. Just beyond the monument is the famous Southeast Light. Built in 1873, the 52 foot tower, with its lens, offers as a green flashing beacon that can be seen for 23 miles (20 nautical miles). The lighthouse and its museum are open during the summer months. In 1993, the lighthouse was moved inland several hundred feet due to the eroding bluffs. A large boulder sits where the lighthouse once did. For the remainder of this walk return to the road (Spring Street) and turn right. The road will lead you back to town descending for quite a while before coming to the waters edge once again. The road then turns abruptly left and slightly uphill as you pass the Spring House. This will be the first of several famous Block Island Hotels along Spring Street as the walk leads back into town. Spring Street ends at the rotary, continue straight back onto Water Street. The ferry dock will be on your right and several shops and restaurants will be on the left.

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Mohegan Bluffs and the Southeast Light.

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Francis Carter West – Charlestown

  • Francis C. Carter Preserve – West
  • Old Mill Road, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°25’56.53″N, 71°40’9.61″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 3, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.8 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

The Nature Conservancy has been doing some improvements to their properties recently and Francis Carter is no exception. New trails have been added to Lime Rock and Dundery Brook, and a new preserve has opened in North Kingstown. At the western end of Francis Carter some new land has been acquired and the Nature Conservancy is in the process of adding a new red blazed trail. At the time of this hike though that trail is not open and is expected to opened in the spring of 2017. For this hike we started at the Old Mill Road trail-head and followed the yellow blazes down an old cart path known as the Narragansett Trail.  As a matter of fact, this stretch was once part of the Narragansett Trail when it ran from Lantern Hill in Connecticut to Wordens Pond in South Kingstown. At the bottom of the hill we turned right and followed the perimeter of a large open field completing a loop back to the cart path. Within the large open grassland is a habitat for deer, various birds including bluebirds and warblers, dragonflies, and small mammals. There are informative boards here explaining the habitat. Along the edge of the field is a variation of shrubs and trees including pines, sassafras, and aspens. There were also pods left from this years milkweed. From here we retraced our steps back to the parking area. Hunting is allowed on this property. Be sure to wear orange. A visit in the spring will be in order to check out the new trail when complete.

Trail maps can be found at: Francis Carter West

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Grasslands at Francis Carter

King Preserve – North Kingstown

  • King/Benson Preserve
  • Boston Neck Road, North Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°30’56.02″N, 71°25’23.72″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 25, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.5 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

 

Named for Dave King, the first executive director of the Champlin Foundations, this is Rhode Islands newest Nature Conservancy property that now has trails open to the public. It is so new in fact that the trails in the Benson Preserve property are still under development. The property is just north of Casey Farm and stretches from Boston Neck Road westward to the Narrow River. The blue trail from the main parking area meanders westerly into the property, passing stone walls and small boulders, for about a mile before coming to the yellow trails. Turn left at the yellow trail and follow it to its end. Along the way look for a rather unusual rock on the right that seems to point. You will pass a yellow trail to the right as well. You will return on this trail. At the end of the yellow trail you will come to a four way intersection. The yellow loop trail is to your immediate right and a trail spurs to the left to Casey Farm. Ahead and to the right is the white blazed Pettaquamscutt Trail. Follow this trail to two of the preserve features. The first on the left is a small beach that overlooks Narrow River. This is an old Girl Scout Camp beach. Back on the white trail you will soon find yourself walking through a canopy of tall spruce trees. Here we spotted a fox. The white blazed trail then turns to the right and comes to a set of trickling waterfalls. Continuing along the trail you soon cross onto the Benson Preserve. There is signage indicating that the trails are still being developed. From here you can retrace your steps or forge ahead follow the un-blazed trails. If you choose the later be sure to use some sort of GPS in case you need to backtrack and be very aware of your footing. The white trail is blazed for a few more hundred feet. Soon you will see a trail to the right. It is currently marked with pink survey flagging. Following this flagging (soon to be blazed white) and carefully following the currently less defined trail you will come to a wood footbridge at a stream crossing. A few feet after that you will turn left onto the blazed yellow trail. Follow this trail to its end turning left again onto the main yellow trail. From here retrace your steps back to the parking area following the yellow then blue trails. Hunting is allowed on this preserve, be sure to wear orange during hunting season.

A note about the bordering Casey Farm property: Casey Farm is open to the public during daylight hours for hiking trails at Casey Point or those adjacent to King Preserve. Please note dogs must be on leashes, clean up of course, and respect the young people and farm animals by keeping dogs away from the farmyard and fields. Access Casey’s woodland trails via the King Preserve. Camp Grosvenor is not open to the public for hiking. Access Casey Point on Narragansett Bay via the gate on Boston Neck Road. We are working on getting better signage. Feel free to contact me with any questions: Jane Hennedy, site manager, 401-295-1030 ext. 5, jhennedy@historicnewengland.org.

 

Trail maps can be found at: King Preserve

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Spruce Grove

Pasquiset Pond West – Charlestown

  • Pasquiset Pond – West
  • Narragansett Trail, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°24’42.67″N, 71°37’12.49″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 19, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.5 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

 

The Pasquiset Pond Preserve in Charlestown has two separate trail systems. The trail that leads into the western part of the preserve is at the end of Narragansett Trail.  As a matter of fact, this was once part of the Narragansett Trail when it ran from Lantern Hill in Connecticut to Wordens Pond in South Kingstown. This road has no signage and has two houses at the end of it. There is a small spot for a vehicle to park in front of the wooden barrier at the very end of the drivable road. Be sure not to block the residences access to their homes. The trail that leads into the preserve is actually a continuation of Narragansett Trail. It is a wide footpath that weaves through the southern edge of the property winding over gentle hills. There are some nice stone walls along the way and a couple spur trails. A little over a half mile the trail splits. The trail to the left, a continuation of Narragansett Trail, eventually leaves the property and comes to a nearby farm. Stay to the right here and follow the trail to a remote large grassy field. If you are lucky you will catch a glimpse of wildlife. The field and nearby trees are a haven for birds. I noticed several at the time of this hike including blue jays, woodpeckers, cardinals, and chickadees. After spending a moment at the field retrace you steps back to the trail-head. The remainder of the trails at this preserve are off of Old Coach Road about a quarter mile away.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Pasquiset Pond

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The Field At Pasquiset Pond

Pasquiset Pond East – Charlestown

 

The Pasquiset Pond Preserve in Charlestown has two separate trail systems. Along the eastern edge of the preserve is a short quarter mile trail that winds through one of the most beautiful pine groves in Rhode Island. The towering elder pines sway gently above the younger spawns that cover the forest floor. Although a very short stroll, it is worth the stop if you are in the area. There is a sign for the preserve at the northern entrance but parking is available a few hundred feet down the road at the unmarked southern entrance. The remainder of the trails at this preserve are off of Narragansett Trail about a quarter mile away.

Trail maps can be found at: Pasquiset Pond

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Trail Through The Pine Grove

Francis Carter East – Charlestown

  • Francis C. Carter Preserve – East
  • Old Mill Road, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°25’56.23″N, 71°40’8.20″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 8, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.0 miles
  • Moderate due to some elevation.

 

The Francis Carter Preserve is a hilly sprawling tract of land in Charlestown and is large enough to split into two separate hikes. The eastern half of the preserve offers trails that wind through a forest covered in blueberry and huckleberry shrubs, stone walls, outcrops, and boulders. There are two entrances to the preserve as well. For this hike, we (fellow hikers) choose to start at the larger parking area along Old Mill Road. From here we followed a dirt road just a few feet before turning right onto the yellow blazed trail. This trail traverses across the property from one parking lot to the other and it is believed to be part of the original Narragansett Trail that ran from Lantern Hill in Connecticut to Wordens Pond in South Kingstown. We followed it nearly to its end before turning left onto the red trail. Along the way we passed several stone walls, climbed up and over several small hills, while passing through a forest of beech, birch, and pines. The blue blazed trail three times comes to the yellow trail as we opted to ignore it at this point. There are also cairns along the yellow trail as well as some impressive rock outcrops. At the time of this hike we also came across a split boulder that was “dressed up” as a frog. Someone has added a couple smaller stones to give the large boulder the appearance that it had eyes and a tongue. We choose to ignore the short Split Rock Trail and then turn left shortly after onto the red trail. This trail heads north first paralleling Carolina Back Road before turning back to the west. It also climbs up and over several smalls hills as it winds through the forest. Along the red trail there is a small bench to sit for a break if you choose. You will also catch a glimpse of a pond just to the north. You may also catch a glimpse or at least hear the train come through on just the other side of the pond. At the end of the red trail we turned right onto the blue trail. Soon again you will catch another glimpse of the pond below. There are a couple unmarked spur trails that lead to the pond. At the next intersection there are two blue trails. They both lead to the yellow trail, we stayed to the right at this juncture. Soon we came to yet another intersection. An unmarked connector trail the western part of the preserve appears on the right. We continued straight following the blue blazed trail to its end. Here we turned right following the yellow blazed trail back to the dirt road. Turning left would lead us back to the parking area. Take a look around the area here. You will notice a cellar hole and an old water pump. There is also a restroom here. This preserve is open to hunting so wearing orange is a must during hunting season.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Francis Carter East

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Along the Yellow Trail

Block Island Greenway – New Shoreham

  • Block Island Greenway
  • Water Street, New Shoreham, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°10’24.56″N, 71°33’27.22″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 25, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 9.0 miles
  • Difficult to strenuous due to distance, hills, and navigation.

 

The Block Island Greenway stretches from the Great Salt Cove through Rodman’s Hollow to Payne Farm traversing over some of the highest points on the island. There are several loops and side trails that make up the Greenway as well. For this hike, which starts at the ferry dock, 6 miles of the Greenway is covered as well as three miles of road walking to get to and from the Greenway trails. From the ferry, head to the road (Water Street), and turn right. You will pass several small shops and restaurants in the New England picturesque village. Note the National Hotel and the Surf Hotel, two sprawling wooden structures. The street then turns to the left and becomes Dodge Street. At the next intersection you want to continue straight onto Harbor Road. The road to the right (Corn Neck Road) leads to the northern end of the island. Soon you will be passing by some of the iconic Block Island watering holes, Poor Peoples Pub and Captain Nick’s. On the right you will catch a few glimpses of Harbor Pond before coming to the next intersection. Turn right onto Beach Road and then almost immediately left onto Ocean Avenue. After going downhill a bit you will catch a glimpse of the southernmost end of the Great Salt Cove to the right. Payne’s Donuts will be on the right just before you need to turn left onto West Side Road. Climbing up hill slightly, you will pass several fields encased in stone walls. On some days you may be greeted by cows. The road then splits. Stay to the left here and proceed along Legion Way. To the right is the American Legion hall. After passing the hall, cross the street and enter Island Cemetery. Follow the grass path up the hill of the cemetery to the dirt road. Turn right and then left to follow the road along the edge of the cemetery. Take your time here in the cemetery. There are several very old graves to check out and some very prominent names of the islands history including Payne and Champlin. After following the dirt road stay straight along the edge of the stone wall. Soon you will see a set of wooden stairs, known as a stile, that cross over a stone wall. You are now entering the Greenway at the Harrison Loop. The trail to the right, less than two tenths of a mile, is the extreme northern end of the Block Island Greenway. After crossing the stile turn left and follow the shrub and tree flanked, grass mown foot path. After crossing a driveway the trail continues to wind through the woods another half mile before coming to another dirt road. Follow the road ahead a few feet then turn right into a driveway. The Greenway continues to the right of a fence in garden with a “chef” in it. The trail then crosses a stone wall and turns right. After crossing the stone wall turn around and take a peek at the sign on the tree. The folks here on the island do have a sense of humor. The trail then zigzags another three tenths of a mile to Beacon Hill Road passing on the left a sprawling farm with horse, donkeys, and chickens. You will likely be greeted by them as you pass by. Beware of the fence though! After passing Beacon Hill Road, continue to follow the main trail ignoring side trails. The Greenway climbs uphill into Nathan Mott Park, Turnip Farm, and the Loffredo Preserve. A trail to the left, with stairs, is currently closed. Continue straight to a large open field. At the top of the hill you have sweeping views to the east of the airport and Old Harbor in the distance. Continue straight along the main trail keeping a large house to your left. When you reach a gate there is a trail to the right. Turn onto it and follow it. It loops back around and slightly uphill. Then turn left onto the next trail. This trail zigzags a bit as it heads west. At the next trail stay to the left. The trail soon passes another large open field before coming out to Old Mill Road. Three hundred feet after crossing the road you will find a bench along the trail. From here you can see Montauk Point 15 miles away. Montauk is the eastern end of Long Island, New York. On clear days you may be able to see the lighthouse that sits on the tip of the island. The Greenway trail then continues south to Cooneymus Road passing more open fields and crossing another stone wall. After crossing the road the trail winds into the entrance of Rodman’s Hollow. Turn right onto the dirt road known as Black Rock Road. It gently descends downhill pass rolling hills of wildflowers. Continuing straight and ignoring side trails you will see the ocean. At the end of the road the trail turns to the left and slightly uphill. There are two spots to take in the beautiful scenery of the southern shore of the island. The second spot, known as Tom’s Point, offers a bench to sit and rest. Be aware of the edge of the bluffs here. They are very steep and a fall will almost guarantee an injury if not more. After a break continue to follow the trail. It comes to a dirt road where you will want to turn right. In about four hundred feet or so look for a trail on the left and turn onto it. This trail winds through Rodman’s Hollow passing several shrubs including shadbush, which is spectacular when in bloom in May. A trail appears on the left, continue straight to the next intersection and stay to the right. The trail then drops down into the hollow before coming to the next intersection. There is a small sign here indicating the trail to Fresh Pond. Take a quick break here. The trail ahead can be downright strenuous to some. Though the section is short, less than a quarter mile, the elevation quickly climbs nearly one hundred and thirty feet. The trail then comes to a dirt road. Stop and take a breather! You will notice a granite post with directions. Follow the road north a few hundred feet and you will soon be back on a trail the leads through Peckham Farm and into the Fresh Pond Preserve. There is a short spur trail to the right along the way that climbs uphill for a view of the area.  After passing through Peckham Farm the trail passes a stone wall and turn lefts into a grass field. It continues downhill towards the trees then loops to the right and down almost to the shore of the Fresh Pond. Just before the pond is a trail to the left that leads over a small wooden bridge, briskly uphill, and then along a stone wall flanked field that overlooks the pond. The trail then comes to Lakeside Drive where you will turn right to follow the road. About two tenths of a mile ahead and to the left you will find another stile over a stone wall. Climb over it and continue to follow the trail, the Payne Farm Trail, as it winds through thick brush and open fields first through the Fresh Swamp Preserve before winding through Payne Farm and Sands Farm. The fields are covered in wildflowers and attract several bees and butterflies. At the end of the trail turn left onto Payne Road. This is the end of the actual Greenway. The remainder of the hike follows roads back to Old Harbor. Payne Road soon bends to the right passing the islands medical center and school. Turn left onto High Street and follow it as it winds down into town passing several homes along the way. Turn left onto Water Street and the ferry dock will be on the right. It is highly recommended that you obtain a copy of the trail map, and book as well, from the Nature Conservancy before taking on this hike. Though the island is only 7 miles long and 3 miles wide, taking wrong turns could add miles to your trek. Also, the island is very hilly. Be sure to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated.

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Signage Along The Greenway

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Rodmans Hollow With September Goldenrod.