Posts Tagged ‘ Nature Walk ’

Kinney Azalea Gardens – South Kingstown

  • Kinney Azalea Gardens
  • Kingstown Road, South Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°28’39.44″N, 71°31’11.89″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 8, 2021
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.6 miles
  • Easy garden walk.

The Kinney Azalea Gardens is a privately owned property open to the public. There is no entrance fee, however donations are accepted. There are several species of azaleas and rhododendrons located among the several winding paths. There is a “Troll Bridge” and a “Hidden Bridge” and all the paths have names. Some are wide enough for service vehicles and other are very narrow. Also, look for the famous “moongate”. The best time to visit is May into June. For more information go to their website.

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Early May at Kinney.

Handy House Heritage Trail – Westport

                                                                            

This lollipop trail is short and very informative. It starts at the parking area for the historic Handy House. The wide trail offers signage that explains the history of the property and surrounding area. There are also signs indicating the different types of trees along the trail. For more info click here.

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Along The Trail

Grills Preserve – Westerly

  • Grills Preserve (Westerly)
  • Bowling Lane, Westerly, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°23’58.98″N, 71°45’32.65″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 29, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 5.5 miles
  • Fairly easy with some significant elevation in areas.

                                                                            

 

There are actually three separate “Grills” properties here on the Hopkinton-Westerly border. There is the Grills Preserve in Westerly, Grills Preserve in Hopkinton (also known as the Route 91 trailhead or Grills/How-Davey), and the Grills Sanctuary also in Hopkinton. This hike, the Grills Preserve in Westerly is the most known of the three. There is a vast network of trails here and for this hike you will see all of the highlights. Starting from the parking area at Bowling Lane, make your way to the informational kiosk. From here follow the orange and blue blazed trail to the right of the kiosk for about two tenths of a mile. this section is quite level. At the trail intersection turn right and you will follow the blue blazes for quite a while. The trail winds down to the shore of the Pawcatuck River after crossing a small bridge. You will then be flanked by water on both sides with the river to the right and an oxbow to the left which was formed from the river relocating over time. You will soon cross over Kedincker Island and another bridge. Ahead on the right you will find a towering cairn. The top of this eight foot tall structure marks the height of the rivers crest during the Spring 2010 flood. The trail to the right just beyond the cairn is the connector to the Grills Sanctuary in Hopkinton via the Polly Coon Bridge. The metal arch was built in 2013. Take a wander across the bridge to view the original bridge abutments and you will also find another flood marker. Make your way back across the bridge and take a right back onto the blue blazed trail. At the next trail intersection turn right continuing to follow the blue blazes. The trail starts to climb steadily uphill. Look for the yellow blazed River Loop Trail on the right. Following the yellow blazes you will slowly descend back down hill passing a stone wall before reaching the intersection with the white blazed trail. Continue ahead following the yellow blazes. You will soon pass another stone wall and a large cairn. The yellow trail continues ahead offering peaks of the river as it winds through areas of scattered mountain laurel. Soon the trail comes to the Pawcatuck River once again before it turns to the left into the western reaches of the Preserve. It then turns to the east and winds to a clearing at the next trail intersection. Turn right here and follow the white blazes. To your left is a hill covered in thickets and dense shrub with an occasional towering tree, to your right is densely wooded. Soon the trail takes an abrupt right into the Larkin Farm Homestead. You will find the remains of a structure here that was built in 1655. From this point continue along the white blazed trail. It starts a long climb uphill, steady at first. When you reach the next trail intersection turn left onto the red blazed trail. There is a sign here for “Big Hill”. The climb becomes steeper now. Near the top of the hill turn right following the red blazed trail and another “Big Hill” sign. As the wood line clears you will soon see outcrops of bedrock. Make note of the narrow trail to the right of the bedrock. But for now take a moment here to relax and take in the sights. From here you getting sweeping views to the south and east. You have two options here. You can retrace your steps down the red blazed trail you came up or you can go down the narrower unmarked trail to the right of the bedrock. If you choose the narrower trail note that it is substantially steeper. Whatever one you choose you will turn left at the bottom of the hill and follow the white blazes once again. Along this stretch you will have Big Hill towering above you to the left and will catch your first glimpses of the railroad tracks to the right. Soon the white blazes turn to the right onto a narrower trail. Continue ahead following an old cart path. You may notice a young pine grove on the right along the way. Look closely and you will also notice that the older trees have been charred. It is obvious there was a fire here once and nature has already begun to reclaim the land. At the end of the cart path turn left onto another cart path. Soon you will come to a trail intersection. Turn right here onto the blue blazed trail and cross over a boardwalk. Just ahead on the left is a cemetery. The most prominent grave here is that of Clarke Hiscox, a soldier of the Revolutionary War. The oldest grave here dates to 1777, that of Stephen Saunders. Returning to blue blazed trail you will find that the trail is covered in pine needles. At the next intersection turn right onto the white blazed trail, then left onto a cart path. You will notice that a stream has cut across the cart path. There is a pedestrian bridge here to make the crossing easier. Soon you will turn right onto the orange blazed trail. The trail winds passing a large vernal pool and then climbs steadily up to Big Rock. Its actually quite impressive as it sits upon the top of the hill dwarfing several other large boulders scattered around. The orange trail approaches the railroad tracks again and sharply turns to the left. Here to the right is the red blazed trail that dead ends at a hunters blind. Continuing along the orange blazed trail start looking for a narrow trail to the left marked only by a single rock. The trail is not marked and is quite narrow. The significance of this short trail is its history. It crosses over what was once Douglas Park. This park, built in 1920, was a field that hosted soccer and baseball games, complete with grandstands for 300 people. The local Bradford baseball team won the league championship in 1940. By the 1960’s the field was no longer in use. Nature took it back over the years as the entire field is now a very distinctive pine grove. At the end of the unmarked trail turn right following first the light blue blazed trail and then veering left onto the orange blazed trail that leads you back to the parking area. Hunting is allowed here, be sure to wear orange when hiking here.

 

 

Map can be found at: Grills Preserve (Westerly).

 

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Polly Coon Bridge Crossing The Pawcatuck River

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The View From Big Hill

Midway – Exeter

  • Midway – Arcadia Management Area
  • Ten Rod Road, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°34’48.63″N, 71°43’14.97″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 7, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.3 miles
  • Fairly easy.

 

This three mile loop trail weaves through, well, the mid-section of the sprawling Arcadia Management Area. The parking for this hike is a half mile off of Ten Rod Road at the Midway entrance. Follow the road first over the bridge at Flat River and then the parking area will be on the right opposite the road on the left immediately after a observation deck. From the parking area, continuing following the road (the Midway Trail) to an intersection. Continue straight ahead until you reach the closed red gate by the Midway kiosk. The hike continues beyond the gate, first passing through an area of woods before coming to a large open field. There are a couple narrow trails on each side, however continue straight ahead along the prominent Midway Trail passing an area of cleared trees on the left. The trail then turns to the left and back to the right again. Shortly after the “S” curve look for a trail on the right. There is a faded “Flat River Trail” sign here. Turn right and follow the trail into a valley. The trail soon bends to the left and you will catch a glimpse of the river through the woods. At the next intersection stay to the left. The trail is joined by another a little further up. Continue straight ahead until you reach Plain Road opposite the Shelter Trail. Here you will want to turn left and climb uphill on the road for two tenths of a mile. But first take a peek at the Flat River at the bridge to your right. After checking out the river and climbing up Plain Road look for a parking area on the left with a kiosk and pavilion. First note the grass road directly ahead that climbs up a quick hill, that is the Thornley Trail. This is the trail you want to follow after exploring and/or resting a bit. Where the pavilion is and the surrounding area is a dog training area. Continuing the hike, climb up the grass road trail. It quickly levels out offering an area of cleared trees to the left and a large field to the right. The trail soon bends to the right. At the next intersection continue straight ahead bearing ever so slightly to the right and into the woods. There will be several trail crossings along this stretch. Continue straight until you come to a dirt road. This is the Brookie Trail. Turn left here and follow it just under a mile back to the Midway Trail. There will be a few spots on the right that lead to the Falls River if you want to view that. At the Midway Trail turn right. You will arrive at the parking area in just a few hundred feet. Orange is required here during hunting season.

Along The Midway Trail

Watson Farm – Jamestown

  • Watson Farm
  • North Road, Jamestown, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°31’11.33″N, 71°22’47.07″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 5, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.0 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

A Historic New England property, Watson Farm is a active working farm on the western slope of Conanicut Island with sweeping views of the West Passage of Narragansett Bay. Because it is a working farm it is only open to the public on certain days. There is also an entrance fee payable at the barn where the self guided walking tour begins. A trail map in a booklet will be provided to you. Also, it is advisable to check the tides before embarking to the shore. The barn itself offers quite a bit of New England history, different tools, saddles, and other equipment is visible. The animals were not in the barn at the time of this visit (other than a lumbering gray cat). Farm animals are likely to be in different areas of the farm at different times. To begin the walk, from the barn follow the dirt road between the barn and historic 1796 farmhouse uphill and then stay to the right. You will pass another farm structure to the right before cresting the hill at a farm gate. Take a peek behind you at the top of the hill. You will catch a glimpse of the towers of the Newport Bridge. Continuing ahead the road turns slightly to the left and the windmill becomes visible. The windmill here at Watson Farm is used to supply water throughout the farm by pumping it from below. Carrying on, the road turns slightly downhill giving you the first glimpses of the West Passage. There are sporadic single standing trees throughout the fields. These trees serve as shade for the farm animals. Soon the road splits. There is a sign here indicating to turn left for the short loop. For this hike continue ahead and downhill to the next split where there is another sign indicating the “Path to the Bay”. Turn left here, you will see a large outcrop of pudding-stone to your right before coming to a four way intersection by a stone wall. Turn right here, keeping the wall to your left for a bit. The pathway continues downhill. You will now have views of the Jamestown Bridge and Plum Island Lighthouse to your right across the fields. At the end of the path there is a gate. If it is closed, be sure to close it behind you after passing through it. The path now narrows as it turns to the left for a few feet, then right and downhill through some trees before reaching the shore. It is best to check the tides before reaching this point. High tide will leave only a narrow strand of beach. It is best to follow the shoreline at low tide as the beach is wider and offers a variety of stones and shells to view. When you reach the shore turn to the left and follow the shore away from the bridge behind you. The land ahead of you is Dutch Island. You will notice a portion of wall that was once of a long abandoned building. Dutch Island served the military for several years before being abandoned entirely. The island is now a State Management Area only accessible by boat. To the left of Dutch Island is Fort Getty, now a summer campground. Following the shore it soon bends to the left. Start looking for the “Buoy Post” where you want to turn left to get back onto the farm trails. Be sure to close the gate once again and continue ahead. From here you will continue straight gently uphill passing first a trail to the left before winding through an old orchard. Next you will pass through a gate, then a stone wall while traversing through large open fields. After the stone wall, the trail turns to the left and climbs gently uphill again before coming to the a trail intersection. Here continue straight ahead passing another stone wall. You will pass a pollinator garden on the right before coming to an old wagon parked behind the old farmhouse. The road then turns slightly to the right back to the barn. For more information click here.

A Lone Tree In A Field

Latham Brook Preserve – Smithfield

  • Latham Brook Preserve
  • Burlingame Road, Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°55’29.44″N, 71°33’33.28″W
  • Last Time Hiked: August 30, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.2 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

Bold prediction! When the Smithfield Land Trust is done developing this property it will stand out as one of their best properties. With that said, the natural beauty of this property is spectacular. The trail system is still primitive however, but easy enough to follow. Starting from the cul-de-sac at the end of Burlingame Road (the section off of Latham Farm Road) you will follow a narrow unmarked trail into the property, first through a tunnel of knotweed and grapevines, then you will pass trees with berries before coming to a trail split. Stay to the right here and follow the more inviting trail as it starts its long steady climb uphill. (The trail to the left dead ends at a small pond). Soon you will have a stone wall to your right. Just ahead is another trail intersection. The trail to your left is where you will complete your loop. Continue straight ahead still slightly climbing uphill. The trail splits once again. Stay to your left here following the wider and more defined trail. The climb uphill becomes more significant as the trail climbs to the crest of the hill. You will be under a canopy of beech, maple, and a sporadic pine tree at the top of the hill. Continuing ahead a trail comes in from the right before the trail splits yet again. Continue straight ahead here ignoring the trail to the right. Start looking for a narrow trail to the left marked with a three stone cairn. This will be just before the main trail dead ends at a residential neighborhood. Turning left onto the much narrower and primitive trail, you will decline slightly before coming to a stone wall. Crossing this wall is a little tricky. The trail continues to descend then turns left in a southerly direction before crossing another stonewall. From here the trail winds gently up and down along the slope of a hill. To the right the hill turns to steep ledges where you have a sweeping view of the valley below. At the next trail intersection is a cluster of boulders and a fire pit. Continue straight ahead as the trail starts to descend once again. Ahead is a ledge to the left as the trail turns sharply to the right and downhill. It then veers left and wanders through a floor of ferns before arcing to the left. The trail soon ends at an intersection. Turn right here onto the trail you came in on and retrace your steps back to the cul-de-sac.

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Ledge Along The Trail

Hop Brook Preserve – Blackstone

  • Hop Brook Preserve
  • Mendon Road, Blackstone, MA
  • Trailhead:  42° 3’19.15″N, 71°33’8.92″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 4, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.2 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation and muddy areas.

 

This property hugs the side of a hill between Mendon Road and Hop Brook. From the parking area follow the trail from the kiosk. At the time of this hike the trail was marked with survey flagging. The entrance trail winds pass a stone wall and down hill before coming to an end. Here, make note of the area as you will look for this trail on the way back, then turn right and continue to follow the flagging. The trail turns to the east and comes to another split. Stay to the left here and follow the trail downhill to the brook. At the brook you will find a series of small cascading waterfalls. Take a moment to take in nature here before continuing. You now have two options. You could retrace your steps or continue along the loop. If you follow the loop you will continue to follow the flagging. The trail narrows significantly for a few feet as you have to step from stone to stone through a muddy area. The trail then turns slightly to the right and uphill. A trail comes in from the left. Continue straight ahead. Soon you will pass a trail to the right. This is the trail you followed down to the brook. Continuing ahead start looking for your left turn onto the trail that leads to the parking area. If you follow the flagging you will do just fine. Though short in distance this hike is all hill, slight at that, but you will notice.

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Hop Brook

Hawkins Woods – Plainville

 

Hawkins Woods was opened in 2018 and is mostly known for its disc golf course. The short mile long loop trail traverses the back part of the property wandering through a canopy of beech, pine, and maple trees. The trail also passes along the edge of a large field and stone walls. The tee-pee is quite the highlight along the way. To do the trail stay to the left of the kiosk and follow the white signs with black arrows.

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The Tee-pee at Hawkins Woods.

Owen Bell Park – Killingly

 

Owen Bell is a town park featuring recreational facilities such as a running/walk track, baseball fields, basketball, volleyball, and tennis courts, a playground, a skate park and splash pad. It also is home to a cross country course which features pine needle covered and grass mowed trails at the northern end of the property. They zigzag throughout the wooded area offering over a mile of actual trails. From the eastern parking lot follow the asphalt path into the park and follow the fence line that hugs the highway. You will soon see the trail head to the right marked with a sign. After exploring the trails check out the pond. It is a haven for dragonflies, butterflies, and frogs.

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Along the Wooded Trail at Owen Bell Park

 

Wildcat Rock – Tiverton

  • Wildcat Rock
  • Lafayette Road, Tiverton, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°35’43.25″N, 71°11’19.02″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 21, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.6 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

In the northern reaches of Weetamoo Woods are trails that are less traveled. The trails here are not blazed but for this hike are easy enough to follow. Starting from Weetamoo Woods Lafayette Road parking area continue to follow Lafayette Road pass the gate. The road is paved to the top of the hill. Nature and time has reclaimed some of the pavement though. At the top of the hill is an open field to the left and to the right is the Yellow Trail to Weetamoo Woods. From here continue straight ahead. The road narrows a bit and becomes gravel and grass from this point forward. To your right you will pass the Indian Trail and soon a split to the left. Ignore both and continue straight ahead. At the six tenths of a mile mark the trail splits again. Stay to the right to start heading south. There will be a trail coming in from the left. Ignore that trail and continue ahead. The trail then bends significantly to the right. Ahead is another split. Stay to the left here and the trail soon comes to an outcrop. There is another trail split here. It is your choice as both form a small loop to the top of Wildcat Rock. At the top of the rock you will find yourself high above the forest floor though there is not much of a view as the trees still tower above the rock. The height of the rock is still quite impressive nonetheless. The view would be better when the leaves are off the trees, but the challenge to find the rock (trails not shown on map) is worth the short hike in itself. From the rock, retrace your steps back to the parking area.

 

Map can be found at: Wildcat Rock.

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Highest Point at Wildcat Rock.