Posts Tagged ‘ Wildlife ’

Wernick Farm – Dartmouth

  • Wernick Farm Reserve
  • North Albro Avenue, Dartmouth, MA
  • Trailhead:  41°41’23.98″N, 71° 2’51.42″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 21, 2019
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.2 miles
  • Fairly Easy.

 

Set off of North Hixville Road down a long dirt road in northern Dartmouth is a beautiful property for a stroll. This property offers pine needle covered trails, stone walls, cellar holes, and a pond. Starting from the parking area at the kiosk we followed the orange blazed trail through the northern part of the reserve bordering the Southeastern Massachusetts Bioreserve. We could hear the rustling of maybe a deer in the woods and an occasional hoot of a nearby owl. From here we followed the yellow blazed trail along the western edge of the property passing a large boulder of puddingstone before coming to an open area with a rather impressive cellar hole. From here we followed the green blazed loop trail around a small pond occupied by an abundance of frogs. From the pond we followed the green trail back to the cellar hole and then followed the red blazed trail back out to the parking area. Along the way on the right and slightly in the woods are the remains of a barns foundations.

 

Map can be found at: Wernick Farm.

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Along the Orange Blazed Trail

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Capwell Mill Pond – West Greenwich

  • Capwell Mill Pond – Big River Management Area
  • Burnt Sawmill Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°38’39.57″N, 71°36’27.08″W
  • Last Time Hiked: April 17, 2018
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.7 miles
  • Fairly easy with some difficult navigation.

 

This is yet another beautiful hike in the Big River Management Area. The trails here are numerous, unmarked, and can be difficult to navigate. With that being said, it is not advisable to do this hike without a reliable map, an understanding how to read it, a sense of direction, and absolutely be sure to use GPS tracking in the case you need to back track. This hike starts from a small parking area along Burnt Swamp Road before the gate by the Capwell Mill Pond Dam. It is about three tenths of a mile from Nooseneck Hill Road. After passing the gate you will see the dam on the left. Shortly after the dam follow the narrow trail to the left. It climbs slightly uphill into a grass field before winding into the tall pines. Soon a trail comes in from the right. Stay to the left here and you will cross a bridge. The view, overlooking a tributary of the pond is quite pleasant. After the bridge the trail splits, continue straight. The trail slowly climbs uphill through a lush forest of pines. Be aware of your trail intersections for this walk. At the next trail intersection continue straight again following the main trail. You will continue to climb slightly uphill. This section of trail can be quite wet after a heavy rain. You will soon pass a stone wall. Just after the wall is a narrow path to the left. Ignore it for this hike and continue ahead. You will soon pass a second stone wall and then the trail winds a bit before coming to a large boulder at a trail intersection. This is about the one mile mark. Ignore the trail to left and continue straight on the main trail as it starts to bend to the right. Slow down and start looking for the next trail intersection about one tenth of a mile after the large boulder. As the trail starts to turn to the right by a mossy rock with a tree growing on it there is a trail on the left. It is narrow, but defined enough to be noticed. Turn left here and follow the trail as it starts downhill. Soon the trail ends at another well defined trail. There will be a white blaze on the tree at the intersection. Turn left here. In a few yards you will come to another intersection with a tree blazed white. You will want to continue straight, but first follow the trail to the right to the bridge crossing the stream called Mud Bottom Brook. The slight detour is well worth it. Take a moment here. The babbling brook drowns out all other nearby sounds and you are out in the middle of nowhere nearly a mile from any civilization. Return up the hill to the tree with the white blazes and turn right. After making the turn and following the trail you will pass a stone wall on the left. The stone wall then flanks the trail to the right for a bit before the trail starts to descend downhill leaving the stone wall behind. The trail then starts its slight bend to the left passing a boulder in the middle of the trail. The boulder is a good reference point and is just the right height to sit for a moment and take in the nature around you. From here the trail continues downhill and bending to the left. You will start getting your first glimpses of the pond through the trees on the right. Passing another stone wall the trail splits. They rejoin in a few yards where the trail splits yet again. At this split stay to the right. There is also some mountain laurel scattered around in the area. Continuing ahead the pond is still to the right through the trees and there is another stone wall on the left. The trail turns to the left crossing the stone wall and then to the right meandering to and from the pond. A trail soon comes in from the left, stay to the right and continue to the end of the trail. Turn right and you will cross the bridge overlooking the tributary of the pond once again. Just after the bridge turn right onto the trail that will lead you back to the dam and parking area. Blaze orange is required during hunting season.

 

Map can be found at: Capwell Mill Pond (Map 1), (Map 2).

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Pines, Stone Walls, And The Pond.

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.

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Along The Narragansett Loop Trail

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.

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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.

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Cascading Stream From the Footbridge.

Pocasset Ridge – Tiverton

  • Pocasset Ridge Conservation Area
  • Main Road, Tiverton, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°36’3.32″N, 71°11’40.09″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 5, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.2 miles
  • Moderate, some hills.

 

Being offered as a “wildland” that is open to the public, the Nature Conservancy and the Tiverton Land Trust has recently opened one of the newest trail systems in the State. The entrance is just beyond a garage off of Main Road. The trail follows a stone wall to a large kiosk. At the kiosk the trail turns to the left through the wall and immediately right continuing to follow the tall stone wall before bearing to the north. The trail then follows the back property lines of the neighbors for several hundred feet, passing some puddingstone boulders, before turning abruptly to the right. From here the trail follows an old cart path into the heart of the property first passing a small swampy area and over some small boardwalks. The trail soon starts its long gradual climb uphill before coming to the first trail split. The trail intersection is well signed. Stay to the left here to do the loop trail. The route retraces old trails and a link connects them to provide a loop trail in the back parts of the preserve. This loop climbs some of the higher elevations of the property. There is also an abundance of boulders along the loop. Being new, the trail is still rather primitive. It is blazed with white diamonds featuring an owl on it. Be sure to follow the blazes to stay on the trail. After completing the loop trail retrace your steps back to the first trail intersection. From here follow the Cliff Trail. It is blazed the same as the Loop Trail (white diamonds with owls). This trail winds southerly passing a small stream, dipping into a valley, and then up to a large rock outcrop that overlooks to the west. Be weary of the edge as the opposite side is a nearly straight drop down of 50 feet or more. From here retrace your steps back to the trail intersection and then down the trail you came in on. Be sure to remember to turn to the left near the neighboring properties and follow the trail to the parking area. Hunting is allowed on this property. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.

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Along The Loop Trail

Hell’s Half Acre – West Greenwich

  • Hell’s Half Acre – Big River Management Area
  • Congdon Mill Road, West Greenwich, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°36’42.98″N, 71°37’20.15″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 29, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.3 miles
  • Moderate, some hills, can be difficult to navigate.

 

The New London Turnpike was once the main thoroughfare between Providence and New London. The road, nearly straight for miles, was scattered with small villages along its route. At the intersection of Congdon Mill Road was one of these small villages. As railroads and public roads were built, the once very heavily traveled toll road became nearly obsolete. Now off the beaten path, this one in particular village became a haven for gambling, prostitution, and an occasional murder earning its name Hell’s Half Acre. Today nothing remains of it except an old cellar hole here and there, if you can find them in the growth of young pine trees. For this hike, covering a large portion of the southern parts of the Big River Management Area, we started at the parking area along Congdon Mill Road just east of the Congdon River. The old dirt road leaves the parking area in a northeasterly direction. Immediately we saw a great blue heron fly overhead as we were starting our hike. After going downhill a bit the road splits. Here we turned right following a rocky trail uphill. Soon there is a spur trail to the left that leads downhill to a small pond. We checked it out and then returned to the trail we were on, continuing uphill, soon overlooking valleys below. Along the way you will come to a property marker to your left. It appears to read “RA 1885”. Ahead is a dip in the trail as it descends quickly down before climbing rapidly back uphill. There is a split in the trail here as well. Stay to the left and at the top of the hill turn to the left following the most defined trail. You will soon come to a “faint” trail intersection. Continue to follow the well defined trail here. A little further ahead is yet another trail intersection. Turn left here and stay to the left as the path widens into another well defined trail. The hardest part of the navigation is now behind you. If you have taken all the proper turns you will soon be following the top of a hill with a deep valley to your left. It was around this area we caught a glimpse of a deer leaping through the woods. At the next trail intersection we stayed to the right making our way to another intersection where we stayed to the left as the trail descends downhill towards  Hells Half Acre. You will notice that the forest floor is now covered with a dense growth of young pines. When you approach the next intersection stay to the left again. Here the trail loops near the intersection. The growth of the pine trees covers what cellar holes may be here. There is no evidence of the village whatsoever along the trail. But when the late October wind kicked up every so gently, we could here the laughter of young women, drunk men, and a tavern piano playing. The trail then winds to the north soon crossing a rickety old bridge that spans a small brook. The trail then comes to another intersection. Look over your left shoulder, there should be a sign that says “Buck Run”. At the intersection stay to the left. Ahead, and unfortunely, there is evidence of humans. There is a small section of trail that is littered with trash from yesteryear. The remainder of this trail offers stone walls and an occasional boulder. Continue straight passing a trail coming in from the right and a trail that is on the left. Soon you will come to a intersection of old dirt roads. Turn left here, onto Sweet Sawmill Road, a well defined trail that you will follow straight back to the parking area. The old dirt road soon becomes flanked by stone walls and passes open fields where pheasant hunters can be found. Continuing straight you will pass an old wooden “Regulations” sign and cross a small stream once again before ending the hike at the parking area. Big River is notoriously known for its web and mazes of unmarked trails. It is highly recommended to not only obtain a map of the property but use a GPS tracking device while hiking here. This hike is fairly easy with some hills, but navigation can be difficult and one could easily get lost here. Also, this area is used by hunters. Be sure to wear blaze orange during hunting season.

 

Map can be found at: Hell’s Half Acre (courtesy of Auntie Beak).

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Pine Grove by Hell’s Half Acre

 

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