Posts Tagged ‘ Stone Walls ’

Ash Swamp – Cumberland

  • Ash Swamp
  • Nate Whipple Highway, Cumberland, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°58’57.94″N, 71°25’32.16″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 4, 2022
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.4 miles
  • Moderate due to lack of blazes and mapping, Some Elevation.

In the thickly wooded area behind the North Cumberland Middle School are a series of trails that meander across lesser known town owned land. Some of these trails are used by the schools cross country team and the remainder reach to Tower Hill Road. For this hike, I ventured into the woods with a map from “OpenStreetMaps” with the intention of finding and completing the two loops in the middle of the property. The first challenge was getting to the trail head. Passing through the main parking area for the school, drive behind the school to a smaller parking area at the back of the school. There is enough room for 2 or 3 cars here. From here follow the tree line around the bend and you will encounter a sign for the schools cross country program. This the trailhead! After entering the woods stay to the left. The trail to the right will lead you to Schofield Farm. In a little bit you will come to a four way intersection with some park benches. Turn right here. The trail winds northerly toward the first of the two loops. There will be a trail to the left just before a stream. Ignore it and continue ahead crossing the stream. Soon on the left you will get a glimpse of a boulder strewn landscape. At the next intersection stay to the right and you will cross a stream. A short distance ahead a trail comes in from the right. Ignore and stay on the main trail that veers to the left and starts a climb uphill. At the top of the hill the trail splits. Stay to the left and pass through the stone wall. The trail starts to turn to the left before straightening out. At the next split, stay to the left again. You will pass another stone wall before coming to the next trail intersection. Stay to the right here and continue ahead about sixty feet or so and there will be another intersection. Continue straight here and ahead to the next trail intersection. Ahead the trail is slightly overgrown. The main trail turns abruptly to the left. Follow the main trail as it starts a climb uphill. The trail turns to the right and levels out a bit, then turns left again and again uphill. There will be a trail to the left, ignore it and continue the climb uphill. At the top of the hill will be the next intersection. Turn left here and in about twenty feet or so will be another intersection, turn left once again. There will be a trail on the right, ignore it and continue ahead. You will now start a long descent downhill. Next, a trail comes in from the left, stay to the right and follow the main trail. And yet another trail to the right to ignore. Continue to follow the main trail downhill. At the end of the trail at the bottom of the hill turn right. Follow this trail about sixty feet to the next intersection. Turn right here and follow the main trail slightly uphill. Again a trail comes in from the right, and again ignore it. Near the top of the hill and on the left there is a narrow trail that leads to a footbridge. Take a moment to check this out. There is a babbling brook that cascades over the rocks here. Return to the main trail, it will turn slightly to the left and cross a stream. Shortly after the stream there will be another trail intersection. Stay to the left here. The trail descends downhill passing boulders and outcrops before ending at the next trail intersection. Turn right here and continue ahead to the four way intersection with the park benches. At the intersection turn left and follow the trail back to the trail head. During this hike, we encountered some chipmunks, squirrels, and a lone deer. A few suggestions and notes about this hike. Use GPS! You could easily get lost here and you will likely do some backtracking if you take a wrong turn. The map that I had used only showed the main trails. There are many other trails here that are not shown on the map. Some of the trails were blazed at intersections. These blazes are for the cross country team and are not typical “hiking blazes”. Also, it may be a good idea to tackle this hike on a weekend or holiday when the school is closed.

Trail map can be found at: Ash Swamp

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Trail and Stone Wall at Ash Swamp

Tucker Woods Preserve – Charlestown

  • Tucker Woods Preserve
  • Alton Carolina Road, Charlestown, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°27’2.07″N, 71°40’16.74″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 18, 2022
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.2 miles
  • Fairly easy with slight elevation.

One of the newest trails opened to the public, Tucker Woods, once farmland, is now permanently protected by the Charlestown Conservation Commission. Starting from a new parking area along Alton Carolina Road follow the blue blazed trail into the property. The trail first passes by an open field with sporadic pitch pines before moving into the wooded area shaded by a canopy of oak. The trail widens to an old cart path. You will pass the yellow trail on the right. Continue ahead for now. The forest floor is covered in fern in some spots and there is a rather large hill on the left (future to top of hill is planned). You will pass the other end of the yellow trail, still continue ahead to the end of the blue trail. It splits and makes a loop. Continue ahead and uphill. The trail turns sharply to the right and follows a stone wall before turning again completing the loop. From here stay left and retrace your steps back to the yellow trail (now on your left). Turning onto the yellow trail, start looking for a spur on the left. This leads to a sitting area by a babbling brook with a small “waterfall”. The other side of the brook is part of the Carter Preserve. Making your way back to the yellow trail, turn left, and follow it to its end. The trail winds along the side of a hill for a bit before cutting its way back to the blue trail. At the blue trail turn left and retrace your steps back to the parking area. Trail map is at the kiosk and should be online in the future.

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Along The Yellow Trail

Nathan Lester House – Ledyard

  • Nathan Lester House Hiking Trails/Great Oak Park
  • Vinegar Hill Road, Ledyard, CT
  • Trailhead:  41°25’23.26″N, 72° 3’14.34″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 30, 2022
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.8 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

                                                                            

 

Behind the historic Nathan Lester House are a few miles of properties. Each trail intersection is marked with a post that has a letter on it. For this hike you will do the 1.8 mile perimeter that leads to most of the properties highlights. Starting from the parking area, make you way toward the house. You will see the trailhead marked by a kiosk. The trail, occasionally marked with blue blazes winds through the woods skewed with boulders along this stretch. When you reach the “B” marker continue ahead. You will pass some stone walls and mountain laurel before coming to the “C” marker. Continuing ahead, slightly to the left you will come upon more mountain laurel. The trail descends a bit coming to a stream with a bridge crossing. The trail becomes quite root bound briefly after crossing the bridge. At the next intersection “D” there is a bench if you so choose to. Turn left here, the trail turns sharply to the right and follows a stone wall for a while. Along the way you may spot a cairn or two. Soon you will come to the connector trail the leads to the Atkinson Reserve. Continue ahead, the trail winds through a rather wet area for a bit before coming to the Lester Family cemetery on the left. Carrying on you soon come upon the site where once stood the Ledyard Oak. The tree removed in 1969, declared dead, was believed to be over 400 years old and was the site of several Pequot Councils. Staying to the left the trail leads back to the house and barn. Take a look around, there is quite a bit to see here including some farm animals.

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Trail Along Stone Wall

Atkinson Reserve – Ledyard

  • Atkinson Family Reserve
  • Long Cove Road, Ledyard, CT
  • Trailhead:  41°24’55.63″N, 72° 2’43.81″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 30, 2022
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.4 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

Starting from the parking area near 757 Long Cove Road stay to the left and follow the trail under the power lines to the kiosk. Here you will find the trail map. Continuing into the property following the red blazed trail, you will first scramble up and over a small hill and the trail winds a bit passing a tower. You will soon come to the blue loop. for this hike turn left here. You will slowly climb a hill and come upon the first of several stone walls. At the “short cut” stay to the left, descend into a valley, cross a small stream, and then back up hill. The blue trail turns sharply to the right and flanks a stone wall. The pine grove beyond the wall is so thick that you can not see daylight through it. The trail heads north a bit passing a couple of trails to the left that lead to the Nathan Lester trail system. Continue to follow the blue loop. It then turns to the east passing the other end of the “short cut” before descending down a steep hill. The trail veers to the right in a southerly direction now winding through an area of scattered boulders and more stone walls. You will soon pass through a grove of mountain laurel before coming to the red blazed loop. For this hike turn left onto the red loop. You will pass through low lying shrubs, outcrops, and by ledges before coming to a wooden bridge crossing a stream. Continue to follow the red blazed trail as it starts a long and steady climb uphill. Note on the right at the top of the hill a boulder left by the retreating glaciers. The trail soon levels out and comes to the blue loop again. Turn left here and again at the next intersection to follow the red blazes back to the kiosk.

Trail Map: Atkinson Reserve.

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The Brook at the Southern End of the Property

Wunnashowatuckqut – North Smithfield/Blackstone

  • Wunnashowatuckqut
  • East Harkness Road, North Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead:  42° 0’24.59″N, 71°33’37.07″W
  • Last Time Hiked: February 12, 2022
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.6 miles
  • Moderate due to navigation, difficult at times with some hills.

Wunnashowatuckqut… What? It is Nipmuc for “where the river splits”. The Nipmuc were present on this land where the Blackstone River and Branch River meet just south of the Blackstone Gorge. And speaking of the gorge, you will get an entirely different perspective of the gorge on this hike along the lesser known trails along its western bank. For this hike, led by members of the North Smithfield Heritage Association, we followed trails through State owned properties. Being a warm day in February, the ground was frozen and quite icy in areas. The trails do become somewhat difficult in spots where you may be required to do a near climb on some of the uphill sections. The trails may also become quite muddy in spring weather. There is also no official blaze system or trail map, however, this loop can be completed following the orange marks provided by a local. With all that being said, I would not venture out onto this property without at least GPS or a general sense of direction. The other option is to follow the North Smithfield Heritage Association on Facebook and wait until they lead another hike on this property. Also be sure to wear orange as it is State property. Nonetheless, this hike is a good one, offering quite a bit to see. Starting from the bend in the road on East Harkness Road and Martha Road by utility pole 61, follow the paper street on East Harkness Road. It looks like a driveway (the one with the power lines), as it is in a sense. Soon you will see a house to the left. Continue straight and slightly uphill to continue following the paper street. It now becomes more of a cart path as it climbs slightly uphill into the former James Harkness Farm. Along this stretch you will be behind houses to the left. There will be an occasional spur trail to the left. Ignore these as they lead to private properties. Soon you will come to a trail intersection with a trail to the right. Ignore the turn and continue straight. The trail to the right is your return trail. Ahead you will notice the first of the orange marks. The trail crests the hill and starts its descent to the river. Along the way you will soon be flanked by a stone wall to the left. We saw at least a half dozen deer here. As the trail descends it is deeply rutted in areas. Be careful of your steps here. Near the bottom of the hill the trail narrows. Keep an eye out for the orange marks. You will cross another stone wall. This is the State Line and you are now entering Blackstone, Massachusetts and still descending down the hill. The narrow trail comes to a wider path. Veer slightly right here and follow the orange marks. The trail now levels and winds a bit. At the next intersection a trail to the left leads to private property and is posted. Stay right here and you will cross another stone wall. You will soon come to a large open area with a make shift fire pit near its middle. There are several spur trails leaving this open area. Stay just to the left of the pit and follow the main trail downhill. At the next split stay to the left. Still following the orange blazes you will come to another split. To the left is posted private property. Stay to the right here and the trail follows the shore of an inlet of the Blackstone River. This is a good spot to observe birds. Also there is evidence of beaver activity here. Continuing along this trail you will come to a wider trail ahead. Turn left here and in a few steps you will be on “The Other Side” on the famed Rolling Dam at Blackstone Gorge. The perspective here is quite interesting. For as many times as I have been to Blackstone Gorge, I had never step foot on the other side. This is a good spot for a break. The rest of the hike is uphill. Continue along the main trail for a few hundred feet. Turn left onto a narrower trail, once again following the orange marks. This trail climbs slightly and along the river passing mountain laurel and schist outcrops. As it winds slightly up and down hill you will get glimpses of the river and gorge below (maybe except when leaves are on the trees). You are now back in North Smithfield, Rhode Island. The trail then turns away from the river and increasingly climbs uphill. From here on out be sure to follow the orange marks and make sure your GPS is on. Soon a trail comes in from the right. Ignore it and continue straight ahead and uphill until you come to the next intersection. Take a breather! The worse of the uphill climb is now behind you. Stay right here and look for the orange mark on the tree. The trail bends slightly to the south and you will pass some boulders on the right. Slow down and pay attention here. You are looking for a right turn onto a very narrow trail that is almost non-existent. It is however marked with the orange marks (and at the time of this hike, flagging). Be sure to follow the orange marks as it is easy to drift off the trail. Here the trail climbs again slightly uphill. It soon widens a bit as it winds westward. This trail will eventually come to the trail you entered the property on. There you will turn left and retrace your steps back to the street.

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Rolling Dam from the “Other Side”

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The dam and rapids in the gorge as seen from the trail along the river.

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Orange Marks… be sure to look for the next one!!

Goat Hill Lock – Uxbridge/Northbridge

  • Goat Hill Lock
  • Hartford Avenue East, Uxbridge, MA
  • Trailhead:  42° 5’50.94″N, 71°37’25.35″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 21, 2021
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.4 miles
  • Moderate, significant elevation.

Goat Hill itself can get the blood flowing as some of the trail is quite steep. The trail that runs along the bottom of the hill along the river is much easier and fairly level. For this hike, I did a loop that included climbing up and over the hill making for a moderate hike. From a small parking area along the side and across the busy road, make your way across a large open lawn to the kiosk. Beyond the kiosk and a couple hundred feet into the woods look to turn left and start the climb up the hill. The trail is blazed blue and the ascent is steady. In the winter months you will have a view of the Blackstone River to the right. On the left you will start to notice boulders up upon the hill. Soon you will see an unmarked trail to the left. Ignore it and continue ahead following the blue blazed trail. The trail plateaus briefly. There are scattered boulders throughout this area. The trail the continues uphill and becomes increasingly steeper. There are a few more spur trails in this area. Some have signs such as “PK&C”, “Bone Spur”, and “Greenway”. There appears to be a significant trail system upon the hill, but they are not shown on the trail map. Explore at your own risk. For this hike continue to follow the blue blazes. The trail crests over the top of the hill and starts a steady descent flanked by an impressive stone wall on the left. Take your time a watch your footing here as the descent can be a bit difficult. At the bottom of the hill turn right and follow the blue blazes to the next intersection. Along this stretch is a seasonal babbling brook on the left for a bit. At the next intersection turn left and down a short but steep section of trail then continue ahead to a small wooden bridge. This is the Goat Hill Lock. It once was part of the 1828 Blackstone Canal. This is a good spot for a break. From here return to the last intersection and turn left. The trail is blazed blue, fairly level, and follows the foot of the hill back to the kiosk at the entrance. Along the way you will have views of the river on the left as well as Rice City Pond. To the right there will be areas of bull briar, a haven for songbirds, and a rather significant boulder. You should wear orange here as hunting is allowed.

Trail Map: Goat Hill Lock.

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Bridge at The Lock

Shaw Farm – Sutton

Shaw Farm has several fields at its northern end but the trails are in the central and southern wooded parts of the property. From the parking area stay left of the shed. Shortly ahead is another structure. Stay to the left of that building as well and then follow the edge of a large field keeping the tree line to the right. head is an opening in the tree line. Continue through the opening into another field. Again keep the tree line to the right passing the Center Trail to the right. Ahead, turn right onto the Challenge Trail. It enters the woods and descends quickly into a valley. Ahead is a stream crossing by a stone wall. This can be a bit challenging but manageable. The trail veers uphill and to the left a bit before coming to the Fallen Oak Trail. Stay left here and continue the long steady climb to the southern end of the property. You will pass through a ravine and cross a couple streams along the way. Turn left onto the Shaw Trail next. It will take you to the highest points of the property as it skirts Central Turnpike. Next turn left onto the Center Trail for a moment then turn right onto the Hunter Trail. The trail is a little narrower but is fairly level. Next turn right onto the Laurel Trail. The aptly named trail winds through a small grove of mountain laurel before coming out to a field. Turn right then left passing through the center of the field. Ahead the trail re-enters the woods. The trail to the left follows the edge of a pond then veers left to come to the backside of the barn. Passing the barn to the right brings you back to the parking area. This hike follows a perimeter route.

Trail Map: Shaw Farm.

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Stream and Stone Wall

Moshassuck River Preserve – Lincoln

  • Moshassuck River Preserve/MacColl YMCA
  • Sherman Avenue, Lincoln, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°54’52.26″N, 71°26’32.76″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 24, 2021
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.0 miles
  • Moderate.

The newest of the publicly open Nature Conservancy properties, Moshassuck River Preserve catapults to the top of the list of trails in Rhode Island you must hike. The property offers two blazed loops, a historic cemetery, old stone dam, a ridgeline, boulder field, a vernal pool, several stream crossings, and the Moshassuck River itself. The trails traverse over the property known once Camp Conklin, a former Boy Scout property, and the abutting property of the MacColl YMCA. For this three mile hike start at the parking area at the bend in Sherman Avenue at the Fairlawn Golf Course. There is a sign here indicating the entrance to the hiking trails. First you will pass the open lawn of the golf course on the left before coming to a river crossing. This is your first glance of the Moshassuck. To the right is an old stone dam. The craftsmanship of the stone work is quite impressive. Next your will bear to the left. There will be a large boulder on the hill to the right. Make note of this boulder as you will need it later in the hike to find the access trail to the parking area. After bearing to the left you will notice the first of the blue blazes. Shortly on the left is the Hayden Memorial, placed here when this was a Boy Scout property. From here you will begin to slightly climb uphill. Turn left at the intersection with the yellow blazes and continue to climb uphill. Soon you will reach the top of a ridgeline with a great view of the forest below. Continuing ahead the rail goes downhill quickly first bending to the left and then to the right. You come to the first of several stream crossings here. This crossing is fairly easy as the placement of stones make for a good crossing. Just ahead on the left is a historic cemetery. The grave markers are small and scattered throughout the area. Next you will come to a significant stream crossing. The Nature Conservancy has plans to build stream and river crossings where needed, but for now choose your stones to make the crossing. The trail now winds through a boulder field before entering onto the YMCA property. The narrow trail comes to a dirt road. Continue straight ahead and follow the dirt road. It bends to the right over a culvert, narrows a bit and climbs uphill. Look for the turn to the right onto a narrow (yellow blazed) trail near the top of the hill. After making the turn the trail dips downhill through an area of boulders, crosses a bridge, then climbs uphill once again and comes to a stone wall. Follow the wall keeping it to your right ignoring side trails through the wall. The trail then bends to the right back onto Nature Conservancy property, descends to a muddy stream crossing. It was in this area we came upon a rather fearless deer. It was well aware of our presence but did not seem to fear us. The trail then climbs uphill passing more scattered boulders. Soon we passed the white blazed trail to the right and shortly after that turned left onto the blue blazed trail. The blue loop winds through the northern part of the property. First passing another small area of boulders the trail climbs up and down several small hills, crosses another small stream, and passes what appears to be a manmade well or spring on the left. The trail from here climbs significantly uphill to the highest reaches of the property before making a turn to the right and descending for quite a while. Keep an eye to the left for a vernal pool. Approaching the bottom of the hill you will come to a stone wall and private property to the left. With a slight turn to the right the Moshassuck River is now to your left. The trail then turns first to the right, then to the left, winding around private property, before rejoining the river briefly once again. A small bridge crossing is just ahead and then you will enter another small boulder field with the river on the left once again. This is a great spot to sit and listen to the water trickle by. The trail then climbs slightly uphill as the river winds away from the trail. Look for a large boulder on the left balancing on a significantly smaller stone. This is the boulder you observed when you entered the property. Just after the boulder turn left and follow the access trail pass the old stone dam back to the parking area.

Trail Map: Moshassuck River.

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Trail Along The Moshassuck River

Tri Town Ridgeline West – North Stonington/Preston

  • Tri Town Ridgeline Preserve West
  • Miller Road, North Stonington, CT
  • Trailhead:  41°30’46.07″N, 71°54’15.37″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 15, 2021
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.6 miles
  • Moderate, significant hills.

This hike would be the third of three planned routes to cover most of the trails at the Tri Town Ridgeline Preserve. This hike covers the western portion of the property. Starting at the parking area at the bend in Miller Road follow the red trail (known as the Axis Trail) into the property. It first is blazed only red but soon the blue blaze loop comes in from the left and joins the red trail. Continue ahead and the yellow blazed Fenway Trail will join from the left just as the blue blazes veer to the right. Continue ahead here now following the red/yellow blazes. Soon the yellow trail veers to the right. Continue ahead and follow the now only red blazed trail as it cuts through the property. You will soon leave North Stonington and enter into Preston. (For this hike you will not cross into Griswold). Ahead the yellow blazed Fenway Traill will cross the Axis Trail. Still continue ahead and you will start to get a glimpse of some of towering ridges and ledges the property is so known for. The red trail ends at the northern reaches of the blue loop trail. Here turn left and start climbing the incline to Lamberts Peak. This stretch can be a bit challenging due to the steady upward incline. Along the way to the peak you will pass beautiful stone walls and climb stone stairs. At the peak there is a bench to take a short break. The view from here is spectacular. Continuing ahead you now will mostly be declining down the hill passing small boulder fields with some rather impressive larger boulders, ledges, more stone walls, and stream crossings. The trail hugs the western edge of the property for a while before turning east and coming back out to the red blazed Axis Trail. Turn right here and follow it back to the parking area.

Trail Map: Tri Town Ridgeline West.

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Ridges and Ledges

Dean Mills Preserve – Stonington

  • Dean Mills Preserve
  • Jerry Browne Road, Stonington, CT
  • Trailhead:  41°21’53.28″N, 71°56’12.72″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 8, 2021
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.0 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

This is a short mile long out and back with a short loop at the end. The trail on the way in is mostly gradually uphill and the short loop is relatively flat in comparison with two small stream crossings. The trail crosses over outcrops, areas of pines, and pass stone walls.

Trail Map: Dean Mills Preserve

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The Access Trail at Dean Mills