Posts Tagged ‘ Stone Walls ’

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


Mystic Woods – East Greenwich


Mystic Woods is a nice little hidden gem. So hidden in fact, that the only indication that the property is open to the public is a small round East Greenwich Land Trust sign on utility pole # 78 at the bend in the road. The trail, out and back and flanked by stone walls, descends into a small valley. The trail crosses the babbling Scrabbletown Brook before coming to a grassy area. The trail then turns to the left and crosses another small brook. The property ends near here and for this hike you should return and retrace your steps. The trail does continue onto property that is not part of Mystic Woods.


Stone Walls and Tall Trees of Mystic Woods

Noquochoke – Westport


Another short, beautiful hike in Westport. The Noquochoke Conservation Area, part of a former Boy Scout camp, offers about three quarters of a mile worth of trails through some truly impressive and tall pine groves. The property includes several stone walls and an operating well from days past. The trails, though not blazed, are well marked with signs at intersections.


Map can be found at: Noquochoke.


Sunlight Through The Tall White Pines

Caroline E. Judson – Smithfield

  • Caroline E. Judson Trust Property
  • Williams Road, Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°54’34.26″N, 71°33’24.73″W
  • Last Time Hiked: January 15, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.5 miles
  • Fairly easy with some significant elevation.


At the end of Williams Road is a small parking area for a couple of cars. The trail head is just to the right of the Land Trust sign. The trail winds downhill flanked by stone walls and old barbed wire fencing. Along this strip of wooded land on each side are large fields. At the end of the trail you can catch a glimpse of Stillwater Reservoir through the woods. The trail to the right leads into one of the large fields before dead ending near the property line with Hebert Health Center. The field is a good spot to watch birds circling above. The trail to the left leads further into the woods slowly winding down to a wooden bridge that crosses a beautiful cascading stream. The stream at the time of this hike was particularly high in velocity due to a recent snow melt. The trail then continues, following above the stream, into the Connors Farm Conservation Area at the blue blazed trail. A loop through Connors Farm, itself a beautiful hike, would add distance to the hike. From here retrace your steps back to the parking area at the end of Williams Road. A deer was spotted here at the property as well as chipmunks and a pair of red tailed hawks.


Cascading Stream From the Footbridge.

West Hill Dam – Uxbridge/Northbridge

  • West Hill Dam
  • Hartford Avenue East, Uxbridge, MA
  • Trailhead:  42° 6’12.84″N, 71°36’30.60″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 19, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.7 miles
  • Fairly easy with some slight elevation.


In 1955, Hurricane Diane caused extensive flooding particularly along the Blackstone River including the city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island. In 1960, the West Hill Dam was completed and almost immediately tested by Hurricane Donna. The cities and towns downstream did not flood. The dam and the property around the dam is owned and maintained by the United States Corp of Army Engineers. The property is open to passive recreation such as swimming, picnicking, and hiking. There are three blazed trails on the property. The orange blazed Woodland Trail encompasses almost the entire property. A yellow blazed Grassland Trail meanders through the southwestern section of the property. Lastly the green blazed West River Trail loops in the center of the property. For this hike we started from the parking lot at the southern Access Road off of Hartford Avenue East. Walking north along the road we soon came to a kiosk warning of hunting season. Blaze orange is required here from October to January when hiking. Turning left we started to follow the gravel road that is blazed with orange diamond markers. The road is slightly raised above the surrounding terrain for a bit. At the intersection, turn to the right and continue to follow the orange blazes. The trail, still following a road, winds through a grove of hemlocks and is flanked by small ponds. Soon you will start seeing stone walls and a large granite bollard with a “N” carved in one side and an “U” carved in the other. This is the town line marker between Uxbridge and Northbridge. Shortly thereafter the orange blazed trail meets with the yellow blazed trail. For this short stretch follow the yellow blazes. The orange blazed trail runs parallel on the other side of the wall but the views are better along the yellow trail. To your right is a sweeping view of a small valley and the grasslands that the West River passes through. The yellow blazed trail soon splits to the right, stay left and pick up the orange blazed trail once again. Next there is a fairly large cellar hole on the left. Soon after that you will come to a road. Stay to the right here and follow the road to a parking lot on the left. By the kiosk is the beginning of the green blazed trail. This trail is about a half mile long and winds up and down hills as it loops through the forest of pines between a pond and the West River. There are several spur trails in this area, however, the green blazes are abundant and easy to follow. At the top of one of the hills is a bench to take a break. There are several bird feeders below that attract birds such as titmouse, nuthatch, and chickadees. Taking a moment to take in the sights we could also hear woodpeckers in the distance. Continuing along the green trail we soon came to the road once again. Turning left, we crossed a bridge over the West River. Along the road on the right is the Harrington Pool Picnic Area. There is a fee in the summer to swim and picnic here. After passing through the parking lot stay to the right of the information kiosk and follow the orange blazes once again. At the next split, stay to the right again following the orange blazes. The trail soon turns to the south and slowly climbs uphill as it winds through more forest. There is an occasional seasonal brook along the way and several large boulders. Soon the trail comes to the massive earthen dam. The walk across the top of the dam offers another sweeping view of the valley below. At the other end of the dam a small bridge crosses the West River nearly fifty feet below in a gorge. From here follow the access road back to the parking area.


Map can be found at: West Hill Dam.


View From Upon The Dam

Weetamoo Woods East – Tiverton

  • Weetamoo Woods East
  • Lake Road, Tiverton, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°35’14.25″N, 71° 9’45.37″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 9, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.1 miles
  • Fairly easy with some rocky footing.


Weetamoo Woods in its entirety is easily one of the best places in Rhode Island to hike. The last time I hiked Weetamoo I did about five and a half miles of trails that are described in a Ken Weber book. For this hike I opted to explore the remaining trails in the eastern end of the preserve. Starting from a small parking area on Lake Road, myself and a couple friends first followed the red blazed trail into the property. The trail is quite rocky in areas and footing can be a little challenging. Take your time here if the rocks are wet. Soon we came to a four way intersection (Waypoint 5). The red blazed trail intersects with a blue blazed and orange blazed trail, both on the left. Here we turned onto the orange trail and soon stumbled upon a cellar hole on the right. The trail passes a few stone walls and traverse through an area of beech and hollies. We then turned right onto the Meadow Trail (marked with a sign/Waypoint 6). This trail first crosses a gas easement and winds through the woods before coming to a large meadow. The trail continues with the meadow to the left and a long stone wall to the right. At the far end of the meadow you will catch your first glimpse of Borden Brook below on the right. The Meadow Trail ends at the yellow blazed trail where we turned right. This trail first crosses over Borden Brook and then follows an old cart path for a bit before turning right in the woods. Be sure to keep an eye for the yellow blazes for the turn as the cart path continues straight ahead. There are a few trail intersections here. Continue pass the blue blazes and then follow the red blazes. Soon you will come to Borden Brook again. Here you will find some rather impressive stone work. First, are the remains of an old sawmill complete with large stone walls. Second, step off the trail and follow the brook a few steps down stream to few the craftsmanship of the stone arch bridge. From the sawmill site you could either follow the red or blue blazed trail to the east as they both lead to the same trail intersection ahead. We opted to stay to the left and follow the red blazed trail as it climbed steadily uphill before crossing the gas easement once again. Shortly after way came back to Waypoint 5. From here we retraced our steps back along the red blazed trail to the parking area.


Map can be found at: Weetamoo Woods East.


Along The Orange Blazed Trail

Gungywamp – Groton

  • Gungywamp
  • Groton, CT
  • Trailhead: Undisclosed
  • Last Time Hiked: November 26, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.4 miles
  • Fairly easy guided hike, some hills.


This 250 acre, State of Connecticut owned and protected property, is the home of some of the most mysterious structures in New England. Speculations have for years been made about the origins of the structures. Some are believed to be colonial, some Native American, or very early European such as the Irish. The property is lined with ridges that were forged by the glaciers and there are countless large stones and boulders as well as occasional seasonal waterfalls. The ridges, with nearby swamps and ponds, make for a natural limited access to Gungywamp. This land is believed to be sacred land of the Native Americans and was clear like a prairie. Buffalo, caribou, and cougars were known to be in these parts long before European settlement. There are several sites of interest including a few small chambers with all that is remaining are the side walls and large triangular stones. These chambers have direct sight lines to one another. In one such chamber a Dutch colonial pipe was found. There are also the remains of a colonial house with a fireplace. Old property records indicate that Hannah Adams once owned the property. Coins from the 1740’s have been found on this site. There are the remains of an animal pen nearby built on a steep slope possibly used to pen sheep or goats. The really interesting structures are grouped together. A chamber, complete intact with roof, has construction that is similar to early Irish construction. This sparks the question of whether St. Brendan (484-577 A.D.) had made it to North America. Inscriptions of a Chi-rho, an ancient Christianity symbol, have been found on the property also leading to speculation of very early European exploration of the area. There is a calendar chamber nearby. The largest of the chambers, it has a small opening on the back side that allows the western sun into the chamber. On the equinoxes the beam of light illuminates a 6 x 6 foot side chamber. The use or meaning of the side chamber is unknown. Upon a nearby hill is a double row of circular stones. It is similar in ways to the way Stonehenge is set up. There are several speculations of its use. Maybe a fire pit where the Native Americans held council. Possibly a calendar of some sort. Grinding stones have been speculated. If you look at it closely, you can make out the shape of a turtle. A turtle was used quite predominantly as a symbol by local tribes such as the Pequots, Mohegans, and Nehantics. In 1647, John Winthrop, an English settler, reported a fortification near Pequot, therefore predating the colonists. A little further into the woods there is a row of standing stones. They are mostly triangular in shape with the points to the sky. The alignment is due North South. One of the stones has a pictograph of what looks like a raven. Just beyond that site are the cursing stones. It is two large boulders with several smaller stones placed upon them. It is possible that the stones were set as a curse against ones neighbor. The Native Americans were known to place stones in a pile before battle then removing the stone after battle. The stones of the soldiers who did not returned remained. It is also possible that the pile serves as a cairn for directional purposes as it lines up perfectly with a nearby ridge. Further into the woods is another fairly large foundation remnant. There are also smaller foundations in the area indicating that there was possibly a village here. The property is very intriguing and holds a very historical place among the woods of New England, mostly because of its mysterious beginnings and of its age. Therefore the property is not open to the general public unless led on a guided hike. The Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center gives tours occasionally or by appointment.


Circle of Stones


Calendar Chamber (Note the light on the floor of the chamber)