The Walking Posts

The posts labeled with the little “Truckin’ ” man are from my Walking Journal, which I've been keeping since January 1, 2012. What began as a simple New Year's Resolution to move more quickly morphed into a hiking addiction. Below are some running totals.

  MILES TIME CALORIES
September 2014 29.45 13h 53m 2660
Year-to-Date 305.42 166h 39m 33997
September 2013 .5 0h 30m 40
September 2012 36.18 15h 37m 3504

Burlingame, Vin Gormley Trail

Posted By on September 20, 2014

Burlingame, Vin Gormley Trail

8.08 miles, 2.6 mph; charlestown, ri

since i so handily knocked off over 8 miles last weekend, i figured it was time to give the vin gormley trail another shot. first time since i broke my ankle last summer that i’ve done the whole trail. i did it backwards from the way i usually walk it, with the 1-mile road walk at the end this time. never again! ugh, that repetitive motion and hard surface is so tiring right at the end of a long hike. but i did move pretty quickly, getting through the 8+ miles in 3-1/4 hours. i’m kind of in training for a long prudence island hike in october, so i’m looking for higher mileage hikes. vin gormley sure qualified!

map

map

this is the only map you’re going to find for the vin gormley trail online, at least until i get mine done. it’s posted on a big sign where the trail re-enters the woods from the campground.

the first 3/4 miles of this hike, going clockwise and starting at the beach parking lot off prosser trail in charlestown, is along a gravel road through a neighborhood of pond-side houses. after that point, it enters the kimball wildlife refuge and the woods for a very short stretch. but at just slightly under a mile, you cross a dirt road and enter the burlingame campground. the first time i hiked this i didn’t expect to come across playground equipment, and turned back thinking i’d gotten lost somehow. but no, you go from the wildlife refuge to the campground play area.

the next half mile or so you’re on paved campground roads. i’ve never come through here in the summertime when the campground is fully occupied, but even now, there were still some folks camping, and it was a little weird.

vin gormley AND north-south trail blazes

vin gormley AND north-south trail blazes

not very far past the point where you re-enter the woods from the campground, you come to the intersection of the vin gormley and the north-south trail, were it comes up from blue shutters beach in charlestown. you will follow the combination of yellow and blue blazes for over the next 3 miles.

this is the stretch of the trail where there are extensive boardwalks, some as new as this very month, and of course the covered bridge, which i “covered” in an earlier post. and more boardwalks. somewhere, too, along this stretch is the halfway mark.

fox grapes

fox grapes

after almost 4-1/2 miles, you come to another 1/4-mile stretch of road-walking, this time along buckeye brook road. it was here, along the side of the road and at the edge of the brook, that i saw these fox grapes. it was all very melancholy and autumnal looking, with the reddish blueberry foliage and the ripe grapes… and, yes, i did sample a grape, but only one. mmmm…. fox grapes!

once you re-enter the woods from buckeye brook road, you’re entering major mountain bike territory. there are lots of crossing trails, and you need to keep and eye out for the blue and yellow blazes. and yes, technically, the vin gormley trail is hikers-only; it’s even posted as such on the sign at the campground. but in reality, at least this section is a huge mountain biking destination. you will also need to keep an ear tuned for approaching bikes.

rock climbing

rock climbing

aside from its length, the vin gormley isn’t an especially strenuous hike—it’s basically flat. this is the only place on the trail where you’re required to do a teensy bit of rock climbing. it’s just past the point where the north-south trail diverges from the vin gormley. also, you’re very much in the wildlife management section of burlingame, and there is hunting allowed in here, so WEAR YOUR BLAZE ORANGE! at least during hunting season. it’s not a particularly stylish choice for general hiking, though to each his/her own, i guess.

indian cucumber root

indian cucumber root

for the next almost 2 miles, you’re still in the woods. it’s probably the prettiest section of the vin gormley, and again, i’d recommend doing it first, rather than the way i did it. once you’re past the 5-1/2 mile mark or so, it all starts to blend together.

trailhead mascot

trailhead mascot

you emerge from the woods for the last time at about the 7-mile mark at a little parking area on kings factory road. you will see this decrepit little beaver? maybe? stuck to a tree. i actually found this little guy by the side of the road while doing the 1-mile road-walking portion of this hike on an earlier trip and stuck him up on the tree on a protruding nail. i’m always amazed that he’s still there every time i come back. say hi for me if you go visit him.

as i said, the last (walking this clockwise) mile of this hike is on roads, and it’s just no fun to do at the end. get it out of the way first, and enjoy the rest of the hike.

i will revise this hike in the hikefinder, once i get some time to make a nice map.

Hunts Mill

Posted By on September 16, 2014

Hunts Mill

1.7 miles, 1 mph; east providence, ri

this was a lovely little after-work hike with the folks from the providence county hiking club. this is an interesting property with its history and the trails that hug the shore of the 10-mile river. i’m just gonna be really lazy here and outsource the bulk of the information about this place to my friend’s [award-winning] blog, trails and walks in ri.

fire training tower

fire training tower

this is a short, easy trail that heads out from the site of the historical society and passes by an old fire department training tower, before coming to the ten-mile river.

ten mile river

ten mile river

this is one of the places the trail goes to the river bank. the water is very low right now, and there’s a nasty green algae bloom. but i’m told it’s normally a very pretty river.

carving

carving

i’m guessing this fellow ‘cap’ was fond of it. so fond that, 103 years ago, he carved into the soft brownstone-looking rock at the riverside. there are other carvings here, too, but this is the most legible.

dam and fish ladder

dam and fish ladder

there is a dam here, because, duh, it was originally a mill site. but there has been a very nice fish ladder installed in the past few years. i recommend, if you’re interested in the ten-mile river, that you visit the website of the ten-mile river watershed council.

turner reservoir

turner reservoir

after we finished up at hunts mill, a few of us wandered across the road to visit the turner reservoir. there will be another hike here shortly. stop by and check out the providence county hiking club on facebook. they have some interesting hikes scheduled and they’re a nice group of folks.

i have not added this hike to the hikefinder, because it needs a map, and i’m too busy right now to create one. i will update this post when there is a usable hiking map.

Pachaug SF, Hell Hollow Loop

Posted By on September 14, 2014

Pachaug SF, Hell Hollow Loop

8.6 miles, 2.3 mph; voluntown, ct

you may have noticed that my posting has not been as frequent as in the past. that’s because i am now working during the week, and can’t normally get out to hike. because of that, i’ve tried to do more mileage during the weekends. this hike was perhaps a bit of overkill, but i made it fine, probably because i’ve switched to a standing desk at work, so my legs are getting stronger even when i’m not hiking.

i also looked back on my previous hell hollow posts and noticed that i’ve rather evolved as a blogger and a hiker, and thought this part of the pachaug required a revisit.

the trail, at least at first

the trail, at least at first

this hike started from a parking area in the evocatively-named hell hollow part of the pachaug. it’s next to hell hollow pond, on hell hollow road. i picked up the blue-blazed pachaug trail from here and headed north, to the intersection with the yellow-blazed pachaug-quinebaug crossover trail, which i followed to its intersection with flat rock road.

old farm implements

old farm implements

someone made a little pile of rusted old bits of farm implements along here, attesting to the pachaug’s history as farmland.

lockes meadow pond "view"

lockes meadow pond “view”

i decided to make a further loop north from flat rock road to visit a pond i’ve never seen, called locke’s meadow pond. don’t know why i bothered, as because of the thick vegetation, there were virtually no views of the pond from the trail despite the fact that the trail hugged the shore. at the north edge of the pond, the trail became so confused with all the crossing and intersecting atv and dirt bike trails that instead of looping around on a footpath that was on the great swamp press map, i retraced my steps for a spell, until i was able to find the unblazed path i was looking for. it’s a mountain bike trail, and once i found it,  it was fairly easy to follow… just keep an eye out for the chain marks on the rocks in the trail. it eventually intersected back with flat rock road, and fortunately i didn’t miss the best part.

flat rock of flat rock road

flat rock of flat rock road

the flat rock of the name—a very long stretch of this old road follows a big old granite outcropping.

flat rock road "overlook"

flat rock road “overlook”

there’s even an overlook of sorts, which is much better when there are no leaves on the trees.

quinebaug trail

quinebaug trail

the blue-blazed quinebaug trail follows flat rock road for a stretch until it makes a turn south. most of this 1-1/4 mile stretch of the quinebaug north of hell hollow road is rocky and eroded, which makes for some very hard hiking. as a reminder, the trails of the pachaug state forest are multi-use, which means mountain bikes, horses, dirt bikes, and atvs are all allowed on all the trails in the forest. the motorized vehicles in particular wreak havoc with the trail surfaces. in fact, i saw all but atv traffic on my hike (one of the horses i saw was wearing little booties over his hooves).

the quinebaug gets much nicer once it crosses hell hollow road and heads towards phillips pond. it closely parallels the forest road “trail 1.”

phillips pond

phillips pond

there is a very pretty little picnic area at phillips pond, and in fact this would make a nice alternate parking spot for this hike. not to mention that you would be much less tempted to cut the hike short and head back to your car via hell hollow road itself. this was, indeed, a powerful temptation. but i persevered.

from phillips pond, you can take the red/blue-blazed north fork of the phillips pond trail to intersect with the blue-blazed pachaug trail, or you can take the white-blazed south fork of the phillips pond trail, which also intersects the pachaug, but further south. i chose the northern fork.

hell hollow pond

hell hollow pond

after four hours, i finally got back to my car at hell hollow pond. honestly, this was a really fun hike, and i’d highly recommend it as long as you can take the mileage. there’s lots to see and many different trail environments to enjoy.

i have added this hike to the hikefinder, and linked to my own map.

Preston Nature Preserve

Posted By on September 13, 2014

Preston Nature Preserve

1.6 miles, 1.6 mph; preston, ct

i took a leisurely stroll around this avalonia land conservancy property with some friends. this is one beautiful and unusual property. it mostly consists of fields full of wildflowers: milkweed, goldenrod, queen anne’s lace, lots of other things we couldn’t identify.

one of the fields

one of the fields

this place must be a haven for birds and dragonflies, i would love to see it at dawn or dusk.

milkweed

milkweed

i don’t know but i imagine we’ve missed the monarch migration. too bad, as this would be a great place to see them. i’ve never seen so much milkweed in one place before.

Scleroderma citrinum or common earthball

Scleroderma citrinum or common earthball

we also saw a good number of these guys… common earth balls. not edible by any means, but interesting. it’s a puffball relative, but unlike puffballs, who disperse their spores through holes in the top, these guys just disintegrate. they’re very tough and very black inside, as you can see.

i have added this hike to the hikefinder, and have linked to the avalonia conservancy map. it’s a rather sketchy, hand-drawn affair, and i really couldn’t relate our track to it.

Tillinghast Pond

Posted By on September 7, 2014

Tillinghast Pond

5.5 miles, 2.4 mph; west greenwich, ri

this past sunday i took a brisk walk around the perimeter of this nature conservancy property, clockwise, which is backwards from the way i’ve walked it before. it was a very nice day and a very good walk.

sign

sign

when you walk the perimeter of this property clockwise, you take the white-blazed pond trail to the orange-blazed coney brook trail, which crosses plain road. the first part of the coney brook trail is through an area that has been logged fairly recently, and it’s full of baby white pines.

quartz cat

quartz cat

someone got creative with bits of quartz by the trailside. i think it’s a cat. use your imagination.

berries

berries

i thought the jewel-like beauty of these berries was arresting, but they also made me a little melancholy, because ripe berries on brown foliage signals the end of summer. sigh. no avoiding it, i guess.

steep!

steep!

one advantage of walking this trail clockwise is the very steep descent to coney brook itself. if i had hiked my usual direction, i’d have had to climb these stairs. just sayin’. not far beyond this point you have to re-cross plain road and pick up the white-blazed pond trail again. i followed the pond trail to the yellow-blazed flintlock trail, and then back to my car.

bayberries

bayberries

there are stretches of the pond trail where you skirt the edge of several fields, and beside the trail on one of the fields there was a massive stand of bayberry bushes. the berries of this aromatic shrub are coated with a very thin layer of wax. in colonial times, these berries were harvested to make candles. it takes 6-8 pounds of these (tiny) berries to make 1 pound of wax, and a pound of wax will get you 4 4-ounce candles. not especially cost-effective, but i’m guessing free wax was free wax in colonial times.

wickaboxet loop trail sign

wickaboxet loop trail sign

finally, at about halfway through the flintlock trail, you come to the wickaboxet loop trail intersection (see my post from last week). had i had more time, i’d have continued on to the wickaboxet loop trail and added another, say 3+ miles. but it was sunday, after all, and the first patriots game was at 1:00, so i cut my walk a bit short.

you can find tillinghast pond in the hikefinder.

Wickaboxet Loop Trail

Posted By on September 1, 2014

Wickaboxet Loop Trail

4.25 miles, 2.5 mph; west greenwich, ri

i started this wildlife management area trail from a different spot today than either of the other 2 times i’ve hiked it, and it cut the mileage way down. i guess the other two trail entrances, one from pratt conservation area and one from tillinghast pond, each add a couple miles, because somehow i thought this trail was longer. anyway, it was gross outside… hot and humid, and i was just as happy it was only 4-1/4 miles!

the trail, with signage

the trail, with signage

even though wickaboxet is a state wildlife management area, i think this trail is blazed and maintained by the nature conservancy, because the blue blazes are that same “rgb” blue that we saw yesterday on frances carter. and the signage is excellent. it would make sense, because the wickaboxet loop includes a section of nature conservancy trail which is on tillinghast management area, a nature conservancy property. what i’m trying to say here is that the two properties are adjacent.

and they really really don't want you to go straight here

and they really really don’t want you to go straight here

highlights are a little blown out on this shot, but the little white sign on the post has two arrows, pointing left and right. and there’s a huge barricade of logs.

the ant mounds

the ant mounds

i am told these ant mounds were built and are populated by allegheny mound ants, and that the tunnels can extend up to 3 feet deep, and neighboring mounds can be interconnected. also, i understand that the ants are very aggressive if their mounds and disturbed and they will bite. neat. i gave them a wide berth.

accidental self portrait

accidental self portrait

another accidental self portrait. i kind of liked it.

you can find this hike in the hikefinder under “wickaboxet loop trail from plain meetinghouse road.” the map is my own. i’ve hiked this trail now from three different trailheads: plain meetinghouse road (today’s hike), pratt conservation area, and tillinghast pond management area. see those individual blog posts for mileages.