Posts Tagged ‘ Wildlife ’

Wildcat Rock – Tiverton

  • Wildcat Rock
  • Lafayette Road, Tiverton, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°35’43.25″N, 71°11’19.02″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 21, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.6 miles
  • Fairly easy with some elevation.

 

In the northern reaches of Weetamoo Woods are trails that are less traveled. The trails here are not blazed but for this hike are easy enough to follow. Starting from Weetamoo Woods Lafayette Road parking area continue to follow Lafayette Road pass the gate. The road is paved to the top of the hill. Nature and time has reclaimed some of the pavement though. At the top of the hill is an open field to the left and to the right is the Yellow Trail to Weetamoo Woods. From here continue straight ahead. The road narrows a bit and becomes gravel and grass from this point forward. To your right you will pass the Indian Trail and soon a split to the left. Ignore both and continue straight ahead. At the six tenths of a mile mark the trail splits again. Stay to the right to start heading south. There will be a trail coming in from the left. Ignore that trail and continue ahead. The trail then bends significantly to the right. Ahead is another split. Stay to the left here and the trail soon comes to an outcrop. There is another trail split here. It is your choice as both form a small loop to the top of Wildcat Rock. At the top of the rock you will find yourself high above the forest floor though there is not much of a view as the trees still tower above the rock. The height of the rock is still quite impressive nonetheless. The view would be better when the leaves are off the trees, but the challenge to find the rock (trails not shown on map) is worth the short hike in itself. From the rock, retrace your steps back to the parking area.

 

Map can be found at: Wildcat Rock.

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Highest Point at Wildcat Rock.

 

Sycamore Landing – Lincoln

 

This small property wedged between the Blackstone River and the bike path is the home to The Blackstone River Watershed Council. Yesteryear it served as a dump for a nearby mill and later a scrap yard for automobiles. Over several years the volunteers have steadily cleaned up the site and made improvements to bring it back to a near natural state and to offer the land for passive recreation. A short network of trails have recently been blazed here as well. Though a short hike, it offers stunning and sweeping up close views of the Blackstone River. Starting from the parking area below the bike path parking lots walk toward the split rail fence. Just before the fence turn to the left and follow the path. You will soon see red blazes. The red blaze trail follows the shore of the river offering several spots to take in the great views. Along the way be on the look out for the massive and towering sycamore tree that gives this property its name. At the southern end of the property the red trail turns to the right and loops back to the north following a row of utility poles. Soon there will be a trail intersection. To the right is the blue blazed trail. Turn right here and follow this trail through the interior of the property. You will soon find yourself within a predominantly locust shaded meadow. The blue trail continues ahead to the left of the red building upon the hill. The trail then turns to the left into a grassy area behind the Watershed Council Building. After passing the building stay to the right to get to the parking area. Take your time here while visiting. You will see evidence of beaver activity or might catch a glimpse of deer or turkey. Geese and ducks were also observed here. For information about the Watershed Council and the Friends of The Blackstone click here!

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The Blackstone River

Grills Sanctuary – Hopkinton

  • Grills Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Chase Hill Road, Hopkinton, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°24’38.75″N, 71°45’48.49″W
  • Last Time Hiked: March 22, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.8 miles
  • Fairly easy, some elevation.

 

There are actually three separate “Grills” properties here on the Hopkinton-Westerly border. There is the Grills Preserve in Westerly, Grills Preserve in Hopkinton (also known as the Route 91 trailhead or Grills/How-Davey), and the Grills Sanctuary also in Hopkinton. This hike, starting from the Chase Hill Road trail head, is on the Grills Sanctuary. From the parking area, follow the white diamond blazed Tomaquag Trail as it first winds pass corn fields before entering the woods. The trail soon crosses over Wine Bottle Brook. Just after the brook the yellow square blazed East Loop will be on your left. Continue straight just a little further and turn right onto the orange rectangle blazed Cedar Swamp Trail. The pine needle covered trail passes under a canopy of tall trees before coming to the next intersection. Here turn right onto the yellow diamond blazed Peninsula Trail (note: this section of trail is not shown on the map) and follow it to a picnic area. Here turn right and cross the Tomaquag Brook via the bridge and boardwalk. You are now back on the white blazed Tomaquag Trail. At the end of the boardwalk the trail starts to climb and descend and again climb following ridgelines and a valley. Near the top of the second climb you can see much of the landscape around and below you. Though technically a viewing area, it might be tough to see very far when leaves are on the trees. If you were to continue ahead you would soon find yourself in the Westerly Grills. For this hike retrace your steps back to the bridge and boardwalk. After crossing the bridge stay to your right, pass the picnic area and bear to your right staying on the yellow diamond blazed Peninsula Trail. Ahead the trail makes a hard left as it reaches the river. Check out the spur trail to the right to view the Pawcatuck River before continuing along the trail. From here continue to follow the yellow blazes as the trail follows the river. It will soon come to the white blazed trail once again. Turn right here and follow the white blazes until you reach the yellow square blazed East Loop on the right. Following the yellow blazes will have you exploring the eastern reaches of the property. The loop traverses through low lying shrubs and a small grove of massive pines before returning to the white blazed trail for the last time. Turn right here and retrace your steps back to the parking area.

 

Map can be found at: Grills Sanctuary.

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Tomaquag Bridge

Allens Pond East – Dartmouth

 

Allens Pond is a Masachusetts Audubon property along Buzzards Bay. The property offers 6 to 7 miles of trails. It is a diverse and beautiful property offering several types of features from beaches to fields to woodlands. With that being said, I have decided to break the property into three separate hikes to maximize visiting all of the trails without having an overwhelming hike distance. For the first hike, I started at the easterly trailhead along Allen Neck Road and followed the mowed path to a stone wall and gate. This is the beginning of the Woodland Loop. Continuing straight ahead I followed the path over some boardwalks that went over several small streams. The loop passes a few ledges and glacial outcrops as well. The trail soon comes to a dirt road. You may catch a glimpse of the cows in the field in front of you. Turn right here onto the road and immediately turn left after the stone wall and again immediately right onto the Boulder Trail. This will put you on a small loop path that will bring you by two massive boulders. At the next intersection turn right. You will soon come to another intersection. Here continue straight. The trail winds through thick shrubs and you will come to another significant boulder before coming to the end of the trail. Turn right now onto the Grassland Trail. It will descend slightly downhill before coming to a farm road. Turn left here and follow the road to the large open field. Stay to the left and follow the perimeter of the field. You will see a sign for the Quansett Trail. On your left here is a path that leads to a loop trail that follows the perimeter of a field. It will add a half mile to your hike if you so choose to do it. For this hike continue straight along the Quansett Trail. Look for a post on the left by a narrow trail. When you find it follow the narrow path to a scenic viewing area. From here you can view the salt marsh and Buzzards Bay beyond. From here retrace your steps back along the narrow path, turn right onto the Quansett Trail, continue around the field, following the Grassland Trail back to the Boulder Loop. Instead of turning left where you came in, continue straight briefly before taking the next left. Follow this trail back to farm road by the cows. Be sure to check out the stone wall on your right along the way as you are very likely to find frolicking chipmunks. Also look for a vernal pool on your left along this stretch. After turning right onto the farm road, pass the trail on the left (the one you came in on) and then veer to the left onto the next trail. This will lead you back into the woods and over another boardwalk before ending at the stonewall and gate by the entrance trail. Turn right here to get to the parking area.

 

Map can be found at: Allens Pond East.

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Woodland Loop Return by the Farm Road

Deadman’s Temperance – Fall River

  • Deadman’s Temperance
  • Indian Town Road, Fall River, MA
  • Trailhead:  41°42’31.81″N, 71° 3’54.38″W
  • Last Time Hiked: January 26, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.0 miles
  • Moderate due to navigation, some slight elevation.

 

This hike in the Watuppa Reservation can be a bit tricky if you are not paying attention to your surroundings at trail intersections, otherwise, it is a fairly easy and rather peaceful stroll along trails less used. Starting from the parking area along Indian Town Road near the intersection of Yellow Hill Road you will want to look for the trail head with the sign for the “Brightman Trail to Watuppa Reservation” (Due note there are two other trail heads here that you will ignore). Once you are on the narrow trail you will find yourself winding under a canopy of tall oaks and pines. This trail ends at the much wider Indian Turn Trail and there is a “KP9” trail marker here. Be sure to be aware of your surroundings here as you will be looking for this turn on the way back. Turn right and follow the much wider trail for about two tenths of a mile to a very wide open four way intersection (KP8). Along the way look for the gnomes! Turn right here and almost immediately veer to the right (KP16) onto the Hidden Trail. You will follow this trail to the next intersection (KP21). The original plan here was to continue straight along the aptly named Hidden Trail but that is almost impossible as the trail narrows substantially and all but vanishes. Unfortunately, that leads to a little bit of road walking, but it is a quiet road nonetheless. So here at KP21 turn right onto the Temperance Trail and follow it easterly until the next intersection (KP22). Veer left here onto Abrams Path passing a gate just before Yellow Hill Road. Turn left here and follow the paved road to the next gate (G109) on the left. This is Deadman’s Trail. It is wide and winds westerly and downhill passing towering pines and beech trees that hold their dead sun glistened leaves well into winter. There are a few boulders scattered among the forest floor. Another trail comes in from the right (KP19), continue ahead and downhill to the next intersection (KP18). Stay to the left here and almost immediately you will want to turn left again (KP17). You are now back on the narrower Temperance Trail. It climbs uphill slightly before coming to the Hidden Trail once again (KP21). From here you will turn right retracing your steps back to the parking area, turning left at KP16, left at KP8, and finally left at KP9.

 

Map can be found at: Deadman’s Temperance.

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Along Deadman’s Trail

Cross Town Trail – Groton

  • Groton Cross Town Trail
  • Depot Road, Groton, CT
  • Trailhead:  41°20’8.29″N, 72° 1’58.54″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 2, 2019
  • Approximate distance hiked: 6.0 miles
  • Moderate with some hills and rugged areas. Navigation can be difficult in areas.

 

The town of Groton offers a trail that connects several properties while it traverses quite literally cross town. The trail, six miles in total one way, starts at Bluff Point State Park, winds through Haley Farm State Park, meanders through the Mortimer Wright Preserve and Merritt Family Forest before coming to a half mile of road walking, climbs through Beebe Pond Park and Moore Woodlands, and finally to Town’s End Preserve. Starting at the parking area for Bluff Point, the trail starts to the left by the composting toilets. Follow the main path ahead through areas of ledge, pass a gate and you will soon be parallel to the Amtrak tracks. To the right are some spectacular views of the upper reaches of Mumford Cove. The trail then veers slightly to the right and uphill. At the top of the hill turn left at the wooden steps and left again to cross the bridge. After crossing the bridge you have entered Haley Farm State Park. Just ahead is a gate to the right. Take the turn here, pass the gate and follow this trail. Following this trail will lead you to the main parking area for Haley Farm. Along the way you pass several small boulders and old farm stone walls before the trail turns into a stone dust path. A massive, and quite impressive stone wall will be to your left before coming to the open field just before the parking area. The trail continues to the left (north side of the parking area), however, though not technically part of the Cross Town Trail, it is well worth checking out while here. At the composting toilet is an opening at the wall. Follow the trail here and straight at the next intersection. The trail then turns to the left and back southerly. This small additional stretch is grass mowed through a field with an abundance of birds and thickets of berries and sumac. At the next intersection, continue pass the grass mowed trail to the left, pass the wood post with remains of a gate, and turn right following the trail slightly uphill flanked by a stone wall on the right. At the end of the stone wall there is a narrow trail on the right. Take this trail and follow it first through a cedar grove before passing a few stone walls. There is a trail split ahead just as a catch a glimpse of a pond. Stay to the right here and continue to follow the trail over a few boardwalks and pass Gibson Pond before exiting the State Park at Groton Long Point Road. It does not seem that blazes for the Cross Town Trail were allowed on State Property. At the time of this hike orange dots were observed at several points along the way. They were helpful, however it is very advisable to use GPS (particularly through State lands) in the event you may need to backtrack. Good news! The remainder of the trail is blazed blue through all of the remaining properties and there are trail maps at all the major intersections. Just be sure to keep an eye from blaze to blaze to assure you are on the right trail. Continuing ahead across Groton Long Point Road and slightly to the right you will come to the first blue blaze at Mortimer Wright Preserve. The trail winds up and down hill for the next couple miles passing beech groves, several stone walls, “frog crossings”, an esker and moraine, and streams as it passes the Wright Preserve and Merritt Family Forest. This stretch is absolutely beautiful and is well populated by deer, songbirds, and squirrels. The next half mile is road walking, crossing Fishtown Road, turning onto and following to the end of Rhonda Drive, right onto Farmstead Avenue, then right onto Judson Avenue. After Somersett Drive (on the left) start looking for the trailhead at Beebe Pond Park on the right. Follow the blue blazed trail once again through Beebe Pond Park and Moore Woodlands. This stretch can be a little rugged with rocky and root bound trails, so it is advisable to watch your step while walking and stop to take in the scenery. On the way out of the Beebe Pond Park is a massive stone wall to the right. It looks as it might have been part of a mill or dam. The trail then comes out to 850 Noank Road. This is a good spot for a second vehicle if you are going to car spot this hike. The Cross Town Trail then continues by turning left and following Noank Road for a couple hundred feet and the turning right at the gated Town Ends Preserve. The trail then ends about a tenth of mile into the preserve at Beebe Cove.

 

Map can be found at: Cross Town Trail.

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Mumford Cove at Bluff Point.

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Autumn at Merritt Family Forest

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

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