- Coney Brook Trail/McAlpine-Shepard Preserve – Tillinghast Pond Management Area
- Hazard Road, West Greenwich, RI
- Trailhead: 41°38’54.24″N, 71°46’45.50″W
- Last Time Hiked: August 10, 2015
- Approximate distance hiked: 4.1 miles
I started this hike from Hazard Road entering the management area along the double orange blazed Shepard Trail, one of the newest established trails in Rhode Island. The Shepard Trail crosses over the McAlpine-Shepard Preserve section of the vast Tillinghast Pond Management Area. Tillinghast, with Wickaboxet, offers nearly 10 miles of trails. This hike would be one of three loops that I would cover in the management area. The Shepard Trail itself is a little less than a mile and travels through thick fern covered forest. There are a couple boardwalks to cross as well as a bridge that crosses Coney Brook. There are also a few stone walls along the trail. At the end of the trail is the single orange blazed Coney Brook Trail. Here I opted to go left and follow the trail clockwise as it first led me up along Hemlock Ridge. After passing through an area with quite a variety of mushrooms the trail abruptly turns left, down a set of stairs, to the Coney Cascades. This water feature creates a small gorge along the trail that the brook trickles through. At the top of the hill is a small pond and dam. Soon I came to the next intersection. The orange blazed trail continue to the left as it follows the edge of a large open field, but first I followed the green blazed Loggers Trail for about an 1/8 of a mile to take in the views. At the top of the hill you can see several miles to the south and the large shrub covered field is very picturesque. After a short time lingering I returned to the orange trail and continued to follow it along the edge of the field until it came out to Plain Road. Here are where you will get your first glimpse of Tillinghast Pond. Turning right I followed Plain Road a couple hundred feet looking for the orange (and white) trail blazes that turn to the left. The trail then heads into the woods toward the pond. A trail appears to the right (only blazed white at the intersection), you want to turn right here, but first continue straight to the end of the peninsula for a sweeping view of the pond. Continuing along the orange and white blazed trail you can catch glimpses of the pond to the left. Soon the orange trail turns right, crosses Plain Road once again, and enters an area with active logging. The logging is being done to maintain the wildlife habitats on the property. When going through this area ignore the logging roads and keep straight as the trail will appear ahead. The aptly named green blazed Loggers Trail appears on the right once again, but continue straight. Soon you will re-enter the woods once again and pass an area of several stone walls. This is the Parker Homestead. Continuing along the orange blazed trail I would soon come to the spur trail I came in on. From here I retraced my steps back to the trailhead.
Trail map can be found at: Coney Brook Trail.