Posts Tagged ‘ Pawcatuck/Wood River ’

Grills Preserve – Hopkinton

  • Grills Preserve (Hopkinton)/How-Davey Preserve
  • Alton Bradford Road, Hopkinton, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°24’31.52″N, 71°44’52.53″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 2, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.2 miles
  • Fairly easy.


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, Grills/How-Davey, is the lesser known and the newest of the three. It spans over Hopkinton Land Trust property and the Nature Conservancy’s How Davey Preserve. From a parking area off of Route 91 (Alton Bradford Road), pass the two gates along the dirt road. The trail behind the kiosk you will return on. After passing the second gate you will follow the dirt access road for a bit. This section of the road is the blue trail, however it is not blazed. The road winds gently by some swampy areas and a couple boulders. Ahead on the right is the properties only (currently) blazed trail. Turn right here onto the red blazed trail. Immediately ahead of you is a cemetery. The most notable grave is quite a sad story, “two infants” who died a day apart. Continuing following the red trail to its end. You will want to turn left here, but first take a glimpse of an old cellar hole straight ahead. You may also catch a speeding train here (and at other points along this hike). The tracks are off-limits! After checking out the cellar hole continue with the hike. You will want to follow the un-blazed yellow trail, now to your right. Follow it to its end back to the access road. Make note of the railroad tie as a reference point. You will use this trail upon exiting. Turn right onto the road. It will wind back toward the railroad tracks and then parallel them for a bit before turning to the left, away from them, and slightly uphill. At the next intersection stay to the left. The trail continues to climb slightly uphill. There will be a four way intersection next. Turn right onto the narrower path and follow it to its end. Here turn left, making your way slightly downhill and passing through a stone wall. You are now on the How-Davey Preserve. Continuing ahead you will come to another split. Stay to the left here. In a few feet you will cross a small stream with a series of shallow waterfalls. The trail climbs uphill again. Turn right at the next trail intersection (the trail ahead leaves the property). After turning right the trail loops through the woods high over the Pawcatuck River below. This area is quite beautiful and will be going through a transformation over the next couple years as many of the trees here have fallen victim to the gypsy moth invasion a few years back. The ground shrubs cover nearly the entire hill and several saplings have already reached above them. After crossing two small streams this trail eventually loops back to the intersection by the series of small waterfalls. Here you will turn left making your way off of the Nature Conservancy property. At the next trail intersection continue straight ahead and then left at the next intersection. You are now back on the dirt road. Follow it back to the railroad tie at the beginning on the “yellow” trail. Turn left here, passing by the red trail. Continue straight the remainder of the hike. The trail will wind through some wet areas and over some boardwalks before ending back at the parking area. Hunting is allowed here, be sure to wear orange.


No map on-line. Map available to view at kiosk.


Cemetery at Grills Preserve

Grills Sanctuary – Hopkinton

  • Grills Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chase Hill Road, Hopkinton, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°24’38.75″N, 71°45’48.49″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 22, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.8 miles
  • Fairly easy, some elevation.


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, starting from the Chase Hill Road trail head, is on the Grills Sanctuary. From the parking area, follow the white diamond blazed Tomaquag Trail as it first winds pass corn fields before entering the woods. The trail soon crosses over Wine Bottle Brook. Just after the brook the yellow square blazed East Loop will be on your left. Continue straight just a little further and turn right onto the orange rectangle blazed Cedar Swamp Trail. The pine needle covered trail passes under a canopy of tall trees before coming to the next intersection. Here turn right onto the yellow diamond blazed Peninsula Trail (note: this section of trail is not shown on the map) and follow it to a picnic area. Here turn right and cross the Tomaquag Brook via the bridge and boardwalk. You are now back on the white blazed Tomaquag Trail. At the end of the boardwalk the trail starts to climb and descend and again climb following ridgelines and a valley. Near the top of the second climb you can see much of the landscape around and below you. Though technically a viewing area, it might be tough to see very far when leaves are on the trees. If you were to continue ahead you would soon find yourself in the Westerly Grills. For this hike retrace your steps back to the bridge and boardwalk. After crossing the bridge stay to your right, pass the picnic area and bear to your right staying on the yellow diamond blazed Peninsula Trail. Ahead the trail makes a hard left as it reaches the river. Check out the spur trail to the right to view the Pawcatuck River before continuing along the trail. From here continue to follow the yellow blazes as the trail follows the river. It will soon come to the white blazed trail once again. Turn right here and follow the white blazes until you reach the yellow square blazed East Loop on the right. Following the yellow blazes will have you exploring the eastern reaches of the property. The loop traverses through low lying shrubs and a small grove of massive pines before returning to the white blazed trail for the last time. Turn right here and retrace your steps back to the parking area.


Map can be found at: Grills Sanctuary.


Tomaquag Bridge

Patricia Sprague Forest – Charlestown

  • Patricia Sprague Forest Preserve
  • Railroad Avenue, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°27’4.63″N, 71°39’21.18″W
  • Last Time Hiked: February 2, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.4 miles
  • Fairly easy, some elevation.


For a relatively short, but stunningly beautiful hike just off of Route 112 in Charlestown, the Patricia Sprague Forest offers quite a bit. Starting from a small parking area along Railroad Avenue, follow the blue blazed, pine needle covered trail into the property first passing a stone wall and glacial boulders before coming to a split. For this hike stay to the right following the blue blazes northeasterly along the properties southern border. Ahead, just off the trail and on the right, is an old fire pit that overlooks the valley below. Continuing along the blue blazed trail you will catch glimpses of the Pawcatuck River down below on the right. The trail then descends rapidly into a valley, then climbs back uphill, over a ridge-line and finally into an open field. At the field stay to the right following the fields perimeter on a beaten path that traverses the northern reaches of the property. You will pass through a very young pine grove along this stretch as well. The trail leaves the field for the last time as it bears right into the tall pines and along the properties western border. Ahead you will pass through an old orchard before coming to the entrance trail. Stay to the right here and retrace your steps by the stone wall and back to the parking area.


Map can be found at: Patricia Sprague Forest.


Stone Walls and Tall Trees

Francis Carter West – Charlestown

  • Francis Carter Preserve – West
  • Kings Factory Road, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°25’56.37″N, 71°41’37.11″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 10, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.8 miles
  • Fairly easy.


The newest addition of the Francis Carter Preserve, being the western end, acquired in 2014 offers the red blazed Narragansett Loop and River Trail. This part of the preserve is a great example of how nature can reclaim land that was once industrial. This hike starts from the parking area along Kings Factory Road just south of the Pawcatuck River. The red blaze trail meanders east along the rivers edge first passing a fenced in cemetery. The trail soon comes to an area that is sandy and rutted by dirt bikes and ATV’s. Stay to the left here and you will find the next blaze. The aptly named river trail soon runs along the Pawcatuck River once again. The trail here climbs up and down small hills before ascending gently to a large open field. From here it is important to follow the signs. Turning left, follow the red blazed Narragansett Loop. Bear in mind that this a new trail and not as defined as other established trails in the preserve. In time the trail will be well used and well defined. For now keep an eye out for the next sign. The trail continues northward for a bit before turning to the right and joining with the Grassland Trail. Here you will want to stay to the right following what is now both the Narragansett Loop and Grassland Trail to the south. The path soon turns to the left following the southern perimeter of the large meadow. Just before the woods, on the left, there is an informational board about the grasslands. Take a moment to look at it. From here, continue straight into the woods following the yellow blazed trail. Just before the hill, the red blazed Narragansett Loop turns to the right into one of the nicest stretches of trail in Rhode Island. On the left you will find the ruins of on old chimney. The trail winds below a canopy of pines and hemlocks before passing under power lines. Continuing ahead the trail follows and old stone wall before turning to the left, slightly uphill, to some large boulders left behind from the last glacier. The trail soon comes to an old cart path where you turn right continuing to follow the red blazes. The pine trees here are very dense and thick making for a well shaded pine grove. The trail soon comes to a pair a gates. After passing the gate, you will be on a an old asphalt road. The signage here indicates that this section of the Loop Trail is temporary. The road soon comes to an intersection. The roads ahead and to the left are active. Turn right onto another abandoned asphalt road. This was the entrance road of the former industrial complex from yesteryear. The road soon bears to the left and becomes a dirt road. A few hundred feet ahead is the intersection where the River Trail comes to the Narragansett Loop. Turn left here and retrace your steps back to the parking area. Hunting is allowed on this property at times. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.


Map can be found at: Francis Carter West.


Along The Narragansett Loop Trail

The Pines – Exeter

  • The Pines – Arcadia Wildlife Management Area
  • Mount Tom Road, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°33’52.54″N, 71°43’43.33″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 6, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.6 miles
  • Mostly easy, very difficult in areas.


This is one of those hikes I would not suggest for beginners or those uncomfortable with being in very remote sections of the woods. In order to do this hike as described you should have a good sense of direction, instinct, and balance. Bushwhacking is required in one spot. A copy of the Great Swamp Press map for this area is highly suggested as well as GPS for backtracking. There are three distinctively different parts to this hike. The beginning and the loop around Deep Pond are nice gentle trails, a good portion is walking along dirt roads, and a stretch that follows an unmarked narrow trail has many challenges. This hike starts at where the Mount Tom Trail crosses Mount Tom Road. The reason for that is that a large portion of this hike is in areas where the gates are seasonably closed to automobile traffic. From the small parking area, follow the Mount Tom Trail east following the shore of Parris Brook. When you reach the Blitzkrieg Trail, turn right and cross over the bridge. The Blitzkrieg Trail is a dirt road that is surrounded by mostly tall pines. Follow it about three tenths of a mile to the beginning of the Deep Pond Trail on the left. Soon another dirt road on the right appears. This is the road to Deep Pond. Take this and then follow the loop trail around Deep Pond. The trail is rather narrow in areas and some sections tend to flood after excessive rain. After doing the loop return back to Deep Pond Trail and then turn right. You will see a rather large swamp area to the left. At the time of this hike I saw several ducks here. At the end of Deep Pond Trail there is a gate to the right. Pass the gate and make your way to the Wood River. Here is a canoe launch and people fish here quite often. This is the point where you may want to turn back and retrace your steps if you are not comfortable with a rather challenging hike. To the right you will see a rather narrow, leaf covered trail. For the next 3/4 of a mile, take your time. This trail, root bound in spots, is very narrow at times and rises above the river below. One slip could be disastrous. The trail also becomes undistinguishable at points. Be patient and be prepared to backtrack. There is one spot where it seems impossible to complete. The trail comes out to a peninsula with the river to the left and what looks like an old mill race to the right and seems unable to cross. Backtrack a few feet looking for some old stonework below to the right. You can cross pretty easily here pushing the shrubbery aside. When you reach the other side the trail is visible again. Hunters and fisherman have also used flagging to mark parts of the trail. I found the flagging fairly reliable. There are a few spots to take in the beauty of the Wood River. Stop. Enjoy it. If you have come this far, you deserve to take a few moments to enjoy the remoteness. The trail will soon come out to a parking area at the end of the Waterhole Trail. This area is known as The Pines. There is another canoe launch here as well as a picnic table. To finish this hike, follow the Waterhole Trail west back out to Blitzkrieg Trail. After turning right, follow the Blitzkrieg Trail back to the bridge. Turn left and follow the Mount Tom Trail back to the parking area.


Wood River near The Pines

Arcadia Central – Exeter

  • Arcadia Central – Arcadia Wildlife Management Area
  • Ten Rod Road, Exeter, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°34’36.49″N, 71°42’13.13″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 12, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.8 miles
  • Moderate with some elevation.

This hike in the central part of the Arcadia Management Area covers portions of some of the most popular trails on the property as well as some of the least traveled. It also features several points of interests if you looking for ponds, rivers, and brooks. Many portions of this hike are on trails that are not blazed and it would be suggestible to obtain a copy of the Great Swamp Press map of the property before embarking on this hike. We started this hike from the small parking area at Appie Crossing where the Arcadia and Mount Tom trails begin. From the parking area we crossed the very busy Route 165 and walked easterly about 300 feet to the entrance of the John B. Hudson Trail. This trail, yellow blazed, starts to climb uphill for a bit as it passes under a canopy of the thick forest. About three tenths of a mile from the John B. Hudson trail head is a spur trail on the left. We turned here briefly to explore the remains of a fire tower that once stood here and then continued along the yellow blazed trail. The trail starts to pass through areas of mountain laurel , a stone wall, to the next highlight of this trail on the right. It is a historical cemetery, the final resting place of the Wilcox family. Just beyond the cemetery we then crossed the Tripp Trail continuing to follow the yellow blazes. A couple of hundred feet ahead is a trail intersection with a wooden fence that serves as a gate. The trail to the right is the continuation of the yellow blazed, east branch of the John B. Hudson Trail. The trail ahead is the white blazed, west branch of the John B. Hudson Trail. We turned onto the trail to the left, the beginning of the Shelter Trail, also blazed white. This trail led us downhill through some more areas of mountain laurel. Soon we were hearing the trickle of the Breakheart Brook to the right. The trail then came to Frosty Hollow Pond, a well known fishing hole in the management area. At the time of this hike the pond was nearly empty of water as this area has been experiencing drought conditions. Next we started following the dirt road, Frosty Hollow Road, south for about two tenths of a mile until we reached the Deion Trail on the right where we turned. This trail is not blazed and used mostly by horse back riders. We followed this trail to its end and then turned right onto a dirt road, the Midway Trail. You will notice blue blazes along the Midway Trail as it is part of the North South Trail. It is also a road that is used by vehicles. The road soon crosses the Flat River and then comes to an observation deck on the left at the Falls River. After the deck we turned left over the river and approached a gate. The dirt road, with the blue blazes, turns to the right. We continued straight passing the gate. Almost immediately after the gate the old roadway splits. You have an option as to which way to go as these two roads run parallel for a few hundred feet and then rejoin. This stretch of roadway is actually part of Old Ten Rod Road. After the roads rejoin, we then turned left onto another dirt road that led us southerly. This road passes a small area that resembles a desert. Continue straight through this area avoiding turns to other roads or side trails. If you went straight you should have come out to Route 165 opposite Mount Tom Road. We then crossed the highway, onto Mount Tom Road very briefly, and turned left onto a road that led us to the Arcadia Hunter Check Station. Here we took the opportunity to take a break before tackling the last leg of the hike. The remainder of the hike becomes much easier navigation wise as it follows the eastern most portion of the Mount Tom Trail to its end. The terrain, however, can be a bit moderate as the trail climbs a couple hills. After a short break we then crossed a newly built bridge that crosses the Wood River. Across the parking area is a white blaze on a tree. The trail enters an area of tall pines, crosses a small stream, and then rapidly climbs uphill before coming to Summit Road. Continuing straight across the road, the Mount Tom Trail climbs up hill again and comes to the seven trail intersection. The Dove Crest Trail is immediately to the right and is not blazed. The blue blazed Bald Hill/North South Trail crosses the intersection. An unnamed trail is ahead to the right. The remainder of the white blazed Mount Tom Trail, which we would follow, is ahead. The trail then passes through an area strewn with boulders and ferns before coming to the trail intersection. At this intersection the Arcadia Trail is to the right, we turned left, and followed the remainder of the white blazed trail. After crossing a small brook, the trail climbs slightly uphill, flanked by stone walls, back to the parking area at Appie Crossing. This entire hike is on property where hunting is allowed. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.

Along Frosty Hollow Road

Along Frosty Hollow Road

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

Carolina South – Richmond

  • Carolina South – Carolina State Management Area
  • Pine Hill Road, Richmond, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°27’58.82″N,  71°41’20.07″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 4, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.1 miles
  • Easy.

This was my first venture of at least three planned hikes into the Carolina Management Area. I opted to call this hike Carolina South based on the fact that I partially used the Ken Weber route of that name, although I relied more so on the Great Swamp Press map of the area. I actually plan on doing a hike in the future that will be further south in this management area by Meadow Brook Pond. I was also joined by some friends for this Sunday morning stroll. We started from the parking area by the hunter check station on Pine Hill Road following the wide and flat lane named Andrews Trail. It meanders mostly straight through areas of tall pines and open fields. At the end of this trail we came to a T intersection and turned left. We followed this open lane until it started to turn right then took a narrower path to the left. We followed this narrow path as it followed the edge of large, sweeping, open field. This path eventually came to a section of the North-South Trail (a good description for now, but nature will have its way… starting looking for the blue blazes of the North-South Trail at the large dead tree at the edge of the field). At the North-South Trail we turned left and followed it back into the woods. We did some exploring on a short trail to the right for a moment to take a look at the Pawcatuck River. Continuing on the North-South Trail for a bit we came to an intersection. The blue blazed North-South Trail veered to the left. We followed the trail to the right. We soon passed a trail to the left (we would use this in our return) and continued to a stone bridge. Here the sounds of frogs were very loud. We lingered for a bit before pushing further down the unmarked trail. After a little bit we decided to retrace our steps to the last intersection as the trail we were on was not on the map and out of the management area property. At the intersection we turned right following a trail that eventually rejoined the North-South Trail. We then continued straight onto the North-South Trail passing a cemetery will graves from the mid 1800’s. At the next intersection we turned left onto the Nicoll Trail. (Ken Weber’s route has you continuing straight on the North-South Trail). At the end of the Nicoll Trail we turned right onto the Andrews Trail and retraced our steps back to the car. This area is open to hunting. Be sure to wear orange during hunting season.

Trail Map could be found at: Carolina South.

Open Fields

Open Fields

Two Rivers – Charlestown

  • Two Rivers – Burlingame State Management Area
  • Burdickville Road, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°25’15.53″N,  71°43’0.01″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 8, 2014
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.1 miles
  • Easy.

This is a short hike on a dirt road in the extreme northern part of the Burlingame Management Area. It is an “in and out” hike mostly through a thick forested pine grove.  The trail begins from the parking area on Burdickville Road at a gate. At the end of the trail is where the Wood River ends flowing into the Pawcatuck River. There is a small and narrow path you can follow to the riverbank. From this vantage point you are standing in Charlestown, across the river to the right is Richmond, and across the river to the left is Hopkinton. These three towns give the region its nickname of Chariho. I came across several deer tracks in the snow here. Keep in mind this is a hunting area. Be sure to wear orange. There are also a set of trails that run along the power lines if you care to explore further.

Trail map can be found at: Two Rivers.

Towering Pines at Two Rivers

Towering Pines at Two Rivers

Whiteley Preserve – Westerly


Whiteley Preserve is a small Westerly Land Trust property with a small network of trails overlooking the Pawcatuck River. I started this walk by a gate at a stone wall. I walked through a grassy area and into the woods along the white blazed trail. I stopped briefly at a picnic area to take a few photos. I then continued following the white trail, over a small bridge, to its junction with the red trail. I then followed the red trail back to the white trail and retraced my steps back to the car. There are a couple of canoe landings here as well.

Trail map can be found at: Whiteley Preserve.

The Pawcatuck River at Whiteley

The Pawcatuck River at Whiteley