Posts Tagged ‘ Swamps ’

Dark Swamp – Glocester

  • Dark Swamp
  • Willie Woodhead Road, Glocester, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°54’3.72″N, 71°45’48.62″W
  • Last Time Hiked: September 16, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.6 miles
  • Moderate due to navigation, otherwise fairly easy with some elevation.

 

In November of 1923, two young explorers set out from Providence to find the swamp that for years was reputed to be cursed. The stories date back to when the colonists were settling the area. It is believed that they were warned by the Natives of this area and its curse to keep the colonists from this land. It is also said that several of the colonists who did not heed the warning were never seen again. These two young explorers never did reach their destination that day. They were Clifford Eddy and H.P. Lovecraft, (at the time unknown) horror story authors. In September of 2017, a group of hikers led by members of the Northwest Rhode Island Supporters of Open Space set out to Dark Swamp ignoring the heeded warnings. They were successful! Dark Swamp was found and they all made it out to tell the story. It is suggested however, that if you do head out for this hike, be sure to use a GPS device as most of the trails are not marked and there are plenty of side trails and spurs. Starting at a cul-de-sac at the end of Willie Woodhead Road we made our way along the trail in a southerly direction as it climbed slightly uphill. Ahead this trail meets the North South Trail. Bear to the right and follow the blue blazed trail. There are trails to both the right and left that are mostly grass covered. Ignore them and continue straight. At the half mile mark there is a trail on the right with a cellar hole. You will return on this trail. Continue straight passing over a large outcrop of a rock believe to be a threshing rock. Shortly after this rock on the left there is another narrow and grassy trail. Take it, the trail splits, stay to the left and follow the narrow trail. It leads to old ice pond. From here retrace your steps back to the blue blazed North South Trail and continue south. Starting looking for a trail on the right (about 9/10 of a mile into the hike). Take the right, then almost immediately left. Continue straight, passing yet another spur trail on the right, the trail vanishes into a field of ferns. Ahead and below is the first glimpse of the Dark Swamp with its near black water covered with a twisted and interlaced brush over it.  This area offers many other sights of swamps. Turn around passing the spur trail (now on your left) and instead of turning right onto the trail you came in on, turn left. This trail, unmarked, winds to the west and then north passing some stone walls before ending. Take note of your surroundings here. At the intersection you will exit to the right when you return. For now turn left. This trail will lead you into the depths of Dark Swamp. Shortly you will see another swamp on the right. Just beyond this swamp you will start to see piles of rocks. These are cairns, similar to the ones in Parker Woodland. Locals believe they may be from the Native Americans. Continuing ahead you will come to another trail intersection. Stay to left here and soon you will catch a glimpse of the swamp once again on the left. At the time of this hike we saw frogs and a heron here. The trail then climbs up and over a rather impressive hill before winding through a hemlock grove. The trail all but ends as you approach the large body of water created by beavers. Here is one of the largest swamps in the area complete with beaver dam and beaver hut. This is great spot for a break and to take in nature. From here retrace your steps pass the swamps and cairns. Continue straight at the “noted” intersection. It soon passes an old building and cellar hole on the left. At the end of this trail turn left. You are now back on the blue blazed North South Trail. The trail back to the car will be on your left. Hunting is allowed here, blaze orange is required during hunting season. And again, use GPS here.

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The Swamp at the End of The Trail. (Note the Beaver Hut)

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Wahaneeta/Woody Hill – Westerly

  • Wahaneeta Preserve/Woody Hill Management Area
  • Moorehouse Road, Westerly, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°21’59.84″N, 71°45’34.04″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 14, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 5.1 miles
  • Moderate.

 

Splendid! This hike of just over five miles is on two adjacent properties. The Wahaneeta Preserve is owned by the Westerly Land Trust. It was once a girl scout camp and today is open to the public with a very well blazed network of trails. The bordering state owned Woody Hill Management Area is stunningly beautiful in its own right. The trails and dirt roads here are for the most part not blazed so using a GPS device and a reliable map are highly recommendable. For this hike, myself and fellow hiker Auntie Beak followed, for the most part, a friends track that he had done recently. Starting from the parking area off of Moorehouse Road we first followed the road up to the lodge before venturing onto the blue trail. This trail heads east following a stone wall before looping back toward the west. We then turned right at the white trail, crossed a small boardwalk before coming to a split in the trail. Here we stayed to the right following the white trail. Ahead is a sign for Shady Shelter. To the left there is a short yellow blazed trail that leads to a quite impressive overlook of a valley below. Be very cautious along the top of this ledge. From here we retraced our steps back to the white trail, turned left, and continued to follow it to the next split. Here we stayed to the right now following white blazes with a black dot. This is the perimeter trail and it follows a stone wall that serves as the property line between the preserve and land owned by the Narragansett Indian Tribe. Soon we crossed another boardwalk and passed an area of ferns before coming to a massive sweet black birch tree. The tree is a champion and there is a sign here explaining its significance. After passin the tree the trail bends to the left before coming to the next trail intersection. We turned right here at the opening in the stone wall onto an unmarked trail. At this point we were entering the Woody Hill Management Area. Next we came upon a cellar hole on the left. Opposite the cellar hole is the beginning of a blue dot blazed trail that we followed. This trail heads east first passing an old homestead. Here there is a couple cellar holes, a series of stone walls, and a well that is right along the trail. Be cautious not to fall into the well when the ground is covered by leaves or snow. Continuing along the blue dot trail we soon crossed another stream before coming to another stone wall to the right. The property on the other side is that of the Narragansett Indian Tribe once again. The next section of the trail is flanked in a ground cover known as club moss. The trail then soon comes out to a dirt road where we turned right. We then followed the stone covered dirt road for a bit soon coming to a four way intersection where we turned left onto another dirt road. We followed this road continuing straight at the next four way intersection. The road then curved to the left at the next intersection where we stayed to the left. Soon a pond becomes visible to the left. There are several narrow trails to the right. Be sure to stay on the main trail that follows the pond. We then came to an earthen dam with the pond to the left and a swamp to the right. Part of the dam appears to have been washed out and this will likely be impassable during a wet or rainy season. At the time of this hike it was passable. After crossing the dam the trail turns left following the shore before turning right and into the woods once again. This part of the hike leaves the management area briefly and is actually on land owned by the Town of Westerly. The trail climbs up and over a small hill and then narrows. Staying to the left the trail then passes an arm of the pond as it approaches a large rock outcrop. The trail then turns to the left. Start looking for a stone wall. Once you pass it, turn left again. This trail will lead you to the next intersection where we turned right onto a wider trail. This trail leads you back into the management area. Stay on this trail ignoring the few narrow side trails. When we approached the next intersection we turned left. We then followed this trail for a bit until we came to the “H” intersection. Here we stayed to the right and then turned immediately left onto a fine gravel road with a stone wall along its right edge. As this road starts to turn left and uphill we turned right onto a narrower trail opposite an old maple tree. This trail is grass covered and first crosses a stream. Soon the trail is flanked on both sides with stone walls. The trail soon bends to the right and becomes significantly narrower for a few hundred feet before widening again into a wider grass lane. Soon the trail comes to a wide stone wall flanked road where we turned left. You will see a gate ahead. After passing the gate we found ourselves on Fern Road, a paved road in a residential neighborhood. We then turned left onto a trail after Blossom Court opposite pole number 52. The trail is rather narrow at first passing through areas of mountain laurel. Continuing straight we then crossed another small stream before climbing uphill a bit and passing a couple stone walls. Soon after the second wall there is a pile of quarried stones. Soon we came to the cellar hole opposite the blue dot trail once again. From here we continued straight back into the Wahaneeta Preserve. At the next intersection we continued straight on the old dirt road crossing the white trail twice. At the second crossing we turned left onto the white trail following a manmade ridge before coming to a wood bridge by the pond. Immediately after the pond the trail veers to the left passing an old fireplace before emerging into a meadow. From here several trails meet including a trail back up to the lodge and a dirt road back to the parking area. Before leaving though, we decided to follow the orange trail a few hundred feet, then right onto the yellow trail to check out an old chimney. From here we retraced our steps back to the meadow and made our way to the parking area. Both the preserve and the management area are open to hunting. Wearing orange is a must during hunting season.

 

Trail maps can be found at: Wahaneeta and Woody Hill

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Road at Woody Hill

 

Aguntaug Swamp – Westerly

 

At the end of Pound Road is one of the newest trails in the state. It is a short quarter mile, stone dust path that is handicap accessible. The path is unique in that it leads to some of the most inaccessible terrain in the area. The entire trail is surrounded by a swamp that offers a variety of plant life and song birds. At the end of the trail is a viewing platform that looks over the swamp.

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Wildflowers By The Swamp

Block Island North – New Shoreham

  • Block Island North
  • Corn Neck Road, New Shoreham, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°12’48.58″N, 71°34’1.12″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 14, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 6.0 miles
  • Moderate with areas of difficulty.

 

Block Island is 14 miles off the Rhode Island mainland coast. It is a bustling resort town in the summer months and host to only about 1000 folks during the brutal New England winters. New Shoreham (the one and only town on the island) is in fact the smallest town in Rhode Island by both area and “year round” population. Conservation on the island has been outstanding. Over 43% of the island is under some sort of conservation protection by several different organizations. For this hike, I covered a large portion of the northern end of the island. Parking at the Hodge Family Wildlife Preserve entrance, I first made my way toward Middle Pond following the main trail in the Hodge Preserve. The trail is grass mowed that traverses up and over several rolling hills of meadows before ending at the shore of Middle Pond. Along the trail there are sweeping views over the pond and Block Island Sound including the North Light at the tip of the island. From here I retraced my steps back to the parking area opting to follow the spur loop trails. Once back out to Corn Neck Road I turned right and followed the road south until I came to Clay Head Trail (just after the red house, number 728). The road, marked with a post, is a dirt road that leads to the parking area for the Clay Head Nature Trail. There are several private roads off of this road. Be sure to continue straight until you reach the trail head. From here the trail winds narrowly over meadow covered hills and wooded areas before reaching boardwalks near the Clay Head Swamp on the right. Shortly after the swamp the trail turns abruptly to the left and starts to climb upward, but first check out the beach and the massive clay bluffs. Continuing the trail climbs uphill and parallels the bluffs occasionally popping out to the edge. Exercise extreme caution along the edges. The views of Block Island Sound are quite impressive from the top of the bluffs. The trail passes through areas of shrubs and trees, with an abundance of birds, passing two small ponds to the left. There are also several spur trails to the left that lead into “The Maze”. If you opt to explore be sure to have a GPS device with you. For this hike, I followed the Clay Head Trail to its end. At the four way intersection, continue straight. Shortly thereafter the trail comes to a dirt road. Following the road to north you soon come to an intersection, turn left here and follow the road out to the paved Corn Neck Road. Turning right I followed the road to its end at Settlers Rock passing Sachem Pond on the left. The rock is a memorial to the original settlers and purchasers of the island back in 1661. From here the walking gets tough. If the hills of Clay Head have not already done a number on your muscles, the sands of the beach will. From Settlers Rock to the iconic North Light and back is all beach walking in soft sand through the Block Island National Wildlife Refuge. It is well worth the walk though. The light, built in 1867, is now owned by the town and is home to a museum (open seasonably). At the time of this hike I came upon several nesting seagulls. After spending a little time here I made my way back to Settlers Rock and then southerly along Corn Neck Road. On the left at a stone wall you will see a set of wooden stairs. If you opt to, this is the Atwood Overlook. From the top of the hill you can look back towards the North Light. A little further up the road on the right is the Labyrinth, again the entrance is a set of wood stairs over a stone wall. This unique spot is a somewhat spiral path, similar to a maze, but with no dead ends, that leads to the center. It is said to be sacred. After spending a few moments here, I made my way back to the road continuing south back to the Hodge Preserve parking area. I came across an abundance of birds along this 6 mile trek and ran into a few fellow hikers.

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Meadow at Hodge Preserve

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Clay Head Bluffs

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Block Island North Light

Coffee House Loop – Douglas

  • Coffee House Loop – Douglas State Forest
  • Wallum Lake Park Road, Douglas, MA
  • Trailhead: 42° 1’21.28″N, 71°46’13.14″W
  • First Time Hiked: September 18, 2014
  • Last Time Hiked: May 7, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.2 miles
  • Moderate with slight elevation and some rocky footing.

 

The calendar indicates that there are 5 days of summer left, but the air is cool and dry, the leaves are showing shades of yellow and red, and the days are getting shorter. Autumn is right around the corner and it was very evident here in the Douglas State Forest. After parking and looking for the trail head (or apparent trail head), we made our way onto the loop trail. The route I took started at a trail that was at a closed parking area. On the right side of the trail is a yellow chain and to the left is a “Do Not Enter” sign for unauthorized vehicles. The dirt road we followed comes to an intersection. We continued in a straight direction following the first sign we found indicating that we were on the Coffee House Loop. From here the trail, sporadically blazed, is relatively is to follow in most places. This section of the loop is fairly straight traversing over a small hill. The trail is quite rocky here and there are several large stones in the woods along the trail. This trail soon meets with the Mid-State Trail. The Coffee House Loop turns right onto the Mid-State. There is a sign at this intersection that indicates this. The next section meanders slightly downhill passing some areas of swamp, crosses over some boardwalks, and then crosses a stream. Then there is a right marked by another sign. This is where it gets a little tricky and I found myself relying heavily on my GPS. In this area the map does not seem to reflect the actual trails here. I came to an intersection that had no indication of which trail was which. There simply wasn’t any blazes. At this point you want to go right and follow this trail to it’s end. There should be a sign on a tree at the end of this trail indicating that the Coffee House Loop turns right. (If you go left you will come out the Southern New England Trunkline Trail). Turning right onto a wide trail we passed a large area of swamp to the left before finding the next sign to turn right. The last stretch winds through the woods before coming to a dirt parking area. The trail follows the edge of the parking area then up a small hill and into the closed parking area where we started. On this hike we saw two deer, several birds, chipmunks, and squirrels. We could also here what I believe to be an owl.

 

Trail map can be found at: Coffee House Loop.

Where The Coffee House Loop Meets The Mid-State Trail

Where The Coffee House Loop Meets The Mid-State Trail

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