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 exercise more quickly morphed into a hiking addiction. Below are some running totals.

  MILES TIME CALORIES
December 2016 5.94 3h 57m 640
Year-to-Date 393.49 204h 24m 36807
Dec. Avg. 41.19 19h 24m 3912

Knuckup Hill

Posted By on November 27, 2016

Knuckup Hill

2 miles; Wrentham, MA

This was a PCHC hike, and more of a social gathering than a real hike, although there was a hill, and the view was fantastic. It’s always great to get together with friends, and these are friends I made on the dreaded “social media.” Rather than isolating, I find social media a great way to connect with like-minded people. It’s easy! “Like” a few pages about things you love. Get involved in the conversation. If you like hiking, and I presume you do since you’re here, check out the Providence County Hiking Club on Facebook. If it seems like something you’d like to get involved with, send me a message (see sidebar on the left), and I’ll see what I can do to hook you up.

The Gang

The Gang

Here’s the gang, minus the guy behind the camera (and the guy behind the PCHC, in fact). Note the Warner Trail blaze just over my friend Marjorie’s head.

Hemlocks

Hemlocks

Now, about the hike. This spot is in Wrentham, Massachusetts, not far from the Wrentham State Forest (another “Hike I’d Like to Do” perhaps?). You access it from the parking lot of the Wrentham Senior Center, and most interestingly to me, it includes a short section of the 30-mile Warner Trail, which runs from Cumberland, Rhode Island, to Sharon, Mass. Stay tuned, as there are plans afoot to complete this whole trail.

Old Ski Slope

Old Ski Slope

And speaking of Diamond Hill, this property, like that one, is also the site of an old ski run. Here’s the slope.

Ski Mechanism

Ski Mechanism

Here is a shot of the old, uh, lift? Tow thing? I know zilch about skiing, as I have never had slabs of wood of any kind strapped to my feet for sliding on snow. And trust me, it’s not on my bucket list. This is the top of Knuckup Hill, which is about 410 feet.

The View

The View

And oh, goody! Another completely useless long-distance shot of something invisible on the far horizon! I’m sure that’s just what you all come to this blog to see, ammirite? But seriously, yes, you can see the Boston Skyline from here. Honest.

Trout Pond

Trout Pond

After coming back down from the summit of the hill, we picked up an old fire road to get back to the parking area, which passes by this lovely little pond called Trout Pond. No idea whether it actually has trout in it or not.

My Track (click for details)

My Track (click for details)

Here is my track, and yes, I forgot to turn on my gps app for about the first 2/10s of a mile. But from the north side of the Senior Center lot, look across the drive for the Warner Trail marker:

Warner Trail Marker

Warner Trail Marker

For more info on the Warner Trail, see the website. For info about Knuckup Hill, see my friend Marjorie’s book, Easy Walks in Massachusetts, or this nice pdf file put out by the town of Wrentham (Knuckup Hill is on page 26.) Trailhead: 42.052657, -71.326859; 400 Taunton St., Wrentham, MA.

Barrett Preserve

Posted By on November 23, 2016

Barrett Preserve

1.42 miles, Ledyard, CT

I decided to do two shorter walks today on properties that were on my “Hikes I’d Like to Do” list. The first was on this Avalonia Land Trust preserve.

Avalonia, I love you. I love your properties, and I love what you do. But really? Creating “rabbit-tat” on this little tiny preserve entirely surrounded by houses?

Signage

Signage

I mean, I know the New England Cottontail Rabbit is endangered. I get it.

Destruction

Destruction

But this kind of destruction is just… depressing.

Bounded by Suburbia

Bounded by Suburbia

And it’s not as if this particular small property is part of a larger wildlife corridor. It’s in the middle of suburbia.

Which is Which?

One of the rabbits above is an Eastern Cottontail. The other is a New England Cottontail. I’d be surprised if even they could tell the difference

Perhaps the New England Cottontail, which is distinguishable from its evolutionarily more successful cousin, the Eastern Cottontail only through DNA testing, is just, I don’t know, maybe sucky at being a rabbit? And New England hasn’t always looked like it does now. It was once densely forested, and there wasn’t anyone clear cutting to provide it habitat then.

I guess this makes me a bad environmentalist, or perhaps just a cranky one, I don’t know. But I don’t understand the purpose of creating such a mess on such a small suburban preserve.

You can find out more about the Barrett Preserve on the Avalonia website.

Mamacoke Island

Posted By on November 23, 2016

Mamacoke Island

1.89 miles; New London, CT

Today’s two hikes could not have been more different. One was a chore, the other a revelation. This is the kind of hike you can take your non-hiking friends on and they will love it. Also there are more trails here that need exploring, so I will be back.

Mamacoke Island is an island in the Thames River which belongs to Connecticut College, and is part of the Conn College Arboretum. It is kept as a “natural area,” and only has one blazed hiking trail which circumnavigates the island.

Railroad Tracks—use caution!

Railroad Tracks—use caution!

You access the island by first crossing through a field, and then, yes, across railroad tracks. Now this isn’t Amtrak, so it’s not electrified, but still, it’s an active railroad line. Use extreme caution.

Marsh

Marsh

Once across the tracks, you then cross over to the island on a—I was almost going to call it a salt marsh, but I don’t know if that’s exactly what it is… The Thames River is probably brackish at this point, at least, so maybe. And I don’t know if it was low tide when I came through, or if it is wetter during high tide. Sorry I’m not being very helpful here. I’d say to be on the safe side, try to plan your visit for low tide.

Rock Outcrops

Rock Outcrops

You can see from the above photo that the island has a huge rock outcropping in its center. The white-blazed trail winds around and partly over this outcropping.

View of the far shore

View of the far shore

After I got home I realized that this was the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Base I was taking a photo of. Probably illegal. As you can see, the trail gets right down to the shoreline at one point.

View of the Goldstar Bridge

View of the Goldstar Bridge

Further along the trail, the view got more legal. This is a view of the distant the Goldstar Bridge between Groton and New London. I’ve walked across that bridge.

Three Leaves

Three Leaves

This little arrangement of 3 reddish brown oak leaves just struck me as weirdly significant. Don’t know why.

Return through the field

Return through the field

The trail around the island is very short, under a mile. But as I said, there are more trails on this property that go all the way up to Mohegan Ave. Parkway (Route 32). I need to plan to revisit this place soon.

Mamacoke Track

Mamacoke Track (click to view more details about this track)

You can find out more about Mamacoke Island and the Connecticut College Arboretum at their website: www.conncoll.edu/the-arboretum/. Trailhead: 41.386594, -72.100509; 52 Benham Ave., Quaker Hill, CT. There is a small dirt pull-off here with parking for maybe 5 or 6 cars.

Nipmuck Trail and the 50-Foot Cliff

Posted By on November 22, 2016

Nipmuck Trail and the 50-Foot Cliff

5 miles; Mansfield, CT

I did a fair bit of driving today to get to some trails I’d never been on before, but actually ended up retracing a portion of a hike I did a little over 2 years ago. There was an amazing view from atop the “50-Foot Cliff.” Now I have to figure out how much of the Nipmuck Trail I’ve done—I could be close to completing another blue-blazed trail.

Silk Mill Remains

Silk Mill Remains

I parked on a roadside pull-off on Chaffeeville Road, directly across from an informational sign that marks the site of an old 1880s silk mill. There is a very impressive amount of old stonework through here, and the short white-blazed connecting trail leads right to the CFPA’s blue-blazed Nipmuck Trail.

Trail Junction

Trail Junction

Speaking of signs, this collection was located at the fork junction. The Nipmuck Trail has two branches which join together at this spot. This is some much-needed signage.

Fifty-Foot Cliff Overlook and Memorial Bench

Fifty-Foot Cliff Overlook and Memorial Bench

I have linked to a brochure for Mansfield’s Fifty Foot Cliff Preserve at the bottom of this post. The brochure tells us that the name, Fifty Foot Cliff, is more poetic than descriptive, as apparently this spot is more like a 100-foot cliff. There is a memorial granite bench here dedicated to Ishmael Rosas, a 20-year-old filmmaker, Eagle Scout, stand-up comic, and teacher, who died earlier this year.

From this spot, I followed the Nipmuck Trail down the cliff and southeast towards Mansfield Hollow State Park, where I crossed the 2 ironwork bridges that span the Fenton River. Which is the part I had done once before.

Iron Bridge over the Fenton River

Iron Bridge over the Fenton River

They are very cool bridges. The plaques say they are salvaged from an older bridge here in town.

Seed Head

Seed Head

Another seed head. I am fascinated by seed pods and seed heads at this time of year. I love to make arrangements from them, although sometimes, when the seeds release, it can get a little messy…

My Track

My Track (click for details)

As you can see from the above track, I cheated on the return leg and walked along Chaffeeville Road rather than climb back up the cliff, because that’s just how I roll. You can find out more about the Nipmuck Trail from the Ct Forest & Park Association’s website. I particularly recommend their interactive trail map. And here is the promised link to the Fifty Foot Cliff Preserve’s brochure. Trailhead: 41.795395, -72.208655, 501 Chaffeeville Road, Storrs, CT.

Fisherville Brook

Posted By on November 19, 2016

Fisherville Brook

3.1 miles; Exeter, RI

So today’s hike was a group hike. See? Not always out there tromping about alone. I really think this property is beautiful… I could wish it were larger, though. Still, perfect day in the woods with new friends.

Bright Yellow Ferns

Bright Yellow Ferns

There were lots of these ferns just lighting up sections of the woods. Don’t know if they’re New York Ferns or Hay-Scented Ferns.

Photo of the Photographer

Photo of the Photographer

I caught this far-distant portrait of our hike leader while he was shooting… something. This is on a part of the property that crosses a hayfield to an old cemetery.

Brave Little Rudbeckia

Brave Little Rudbeckia

These guys were at the base of the cemetery wall, still hanging in there.

Pond

Pond

The pond, whose name I can’t locate anyplace, is really just a dammed off part of Fisherville Brook. It was stunning today.

Meadowhawk

Meadowhawk

Speaking of still hanging in there, these Meadowhawk dragonflies were everywhere around the pond. They’re quite festive with their bright red thoraxes.

Light Through Goldenrod Seedhead

Light Through Goldenrod Seed Head

The light today was just gorgeous. It really was a lovely hike.

You can find out more about Audubon’s Fisherville Brook Preserve here. Trailhead: 41.590148, -71.570503, 99 Pardon Joslin Road, Exeter, RI. Note: Do not try to reach this parking area from Sunderland Road! Pardon Joslin Road is a gravel road, and pretty badly eroded on its eastern end. Approach from Widow Sweets Road.

Mount Misery Loop

Posted By on November 18, 2016

Mount Misery Loop

6.5 miles; Voluntown, CT

It’s been literally 4 1/2 years since I hiked this, and not much has changed about the hike, but a lot has changed about me. Then it was an epic journey. Today, just another great day in the woods. And I got to kinda sorta see the wind farm in western Coventry from the top of Mt. Misery.

CCC Camp Monument

CCC Camp Monument

I started my hike from the site of an old CCC Camp, Camp Lonergan. Both times. There’s not much left from the work of the CCC here, but there is a nice plaque.

Beautiful Blue Reflections

Beautiful Blue Reflections

I basically followed the Pachaug Trail from the CCC memorial, then took a turn west on some of the gravel Park roads. This little pond is just past the Frog Hollow Horse Camp. From here I took a couple of the yellow-diamond-blazed CT Horse Council routes.

Dry Reservoir

Dry Reservoir

Ultimately, I rendezvoused with the CFPA’s blue-blazed Nehantic Trail, and followed it south to the old dry reservoir and its intersection with the Pachaug Trail. There, the two trails share the route that goes over Mt. Misery. It was along the Nehantic that I met a guy with his small child on his shoulders. Neither he nor the kid had on a stitch of blaze orange, and he seemed surprised to discover that hunting was allowed in this part of the Pachaug State Forest. Indeed, I had earlier passed a hunter just off the Pachaug Trail. The Arcadia Wildlife Management Area in Rhode Island is very clearly marked as a hunting area at every single entrance, but I never saw any signage to similar effect in the Pachaug. Kind of an oversight, dontcha think, CT DEEP?

Wind Farm from Atop Mt. Misery. Honest.

Wind Farm from Atop Mt. Misery. Honest.

I know, I know, crappy photo. But if you kind of squint, you can sorta kinda see… oh, never mind. Just trust me, they’re there. Five big wind turbines in Western Coventry, RI.

Mt. Misery Track (click to view more details)

Mt. Misery Track (click to view more details)

This is a map of my hike. You can find out more about all the trails in this part of the Pachaug State forest here. Trailhead: 41.594450, -71.864846.