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
September 2016 65.28 32h 14m 5918
Year-to-Date 274.49 140h 21m 25321
Sept. Avg. 40.18 21h 21m 3730

Blackstone River and Canal Heritage Park

Posted By on September 13, 2016

Blackstone River and Canal Heritage Park

8 miles; Uxbridge and Northbridge, MA

Today’s adventure was kind of a 2-fer hike. The first part consisted of joining my friend Marjorie, author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts [second edition available now on Amazon] for a lovely 2-mile stroll along the west bank of the Blackstone River on a trail that is part of the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge. It’s always great to catch up with my hiking friends! And lovely to see the Blackstone River again. Hardest working river in America! (That’s its slogan. Seriously, this river has a slogan.)

The second part was a solo hike that took me from Riverbend Farm in Uxbridge up to Plummer’s Landing in Northbridge and back.

The Blackstone River

The Blackstone River

The water level is a little low, but this is a major river, and not about to run dry due to a little severe drought action. We had some nice views along this riverside trail up to the Goat Hill Lock and back.

Pin and Feather

Plug and Feather

It’s a little hard to see here, but this giant boulder that was trailside still sported a “plug-and-feather” rock splitting mechanism. You can find out more about this system on this Wikipedia page. See? You learn something new every day. I wonder why they gave up on this particular boulder.

Goat Hill Trail

Goat Hill Trail

After going back to the trailhead with Marjorie, I turned around and headed up an alternate trail that climbed Goat Hill. This is a pretty heavily mountain-biked area, and there are tons of trails all through here. The main trail is nominally blazed, but sometimes you just have to guess. I guessed right most of the time.

Goat Hill Lock

Goat Hill Lock

 

Goat Hill Lock, another view

Goat Hill Lock, another view

Both the riverside trail and the Goat Hill trail end up here, at the Goat Hill Lock. The riverside trail actually follows the towpath for the old Blackstone Canal, which paralleled the river from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Lincoln, Rhode Island. There are several canal locks still in place along here, and this is one of the nicer ones, with its arrow-straight granite block sides.

Goat Hill Indeed!

Goat Hill Indeed!

I followed the towpath trail from the Goat Hill lock up to Plummer’s Landing, and then came the not so pleasant part of the hike, the road-walking portion. The roads along here are really busy, and there’s not a lot of room on the shoulders for walking. I couldn’t wait to get off them and back into the woods. However, I did visit for a bit with these guys… the goats of Goat Hill, perhaps?

Bridge on Hartford Avenue in Uxbridge

Bridge on Hartford Avenue in Uxbridge

I just love all the stonework along this stretch of the river. There are some beautiful old bridges, this one among them.

You can find out more about the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park on this Massachusetts State website. It includes some info on the history of the Blackstone Canal, as well as a trail map, but honestly, they kind of screwed up the whole trail map thing, so I’m posting a more usable version here.

Erisman Woodlands/Babcock Ridge

Posted By on September 12, 2016

Erisman Woodlands/Babcock Ridge

6.6 miles (as hiked from home; 2.5 miles total trails), North Stonington, CT

I just wanted to get out without having to drive, so I took this opportunity to try out the new (to me) trail blazed on the Erisman Woodlands/Babcock Ridge Preserves that are within walking distance from home and I loved it. You can now do a very nice figure-8 loop for about 2-1/2 miles here, and come out back on the Reutemann Road trailhead, avoiding another mile or so on the road. Nice, though I’m not sure my 4 miles of road-walking justified even 2-1/2 miles in the woods.

No Water

No Water

I’m afraid I’m rather a broken record lately, but again, the nice little bridge at the bottom of the hill on Erisman Woodlands was basically bridging dirt, not water.

Best. Signage. Ever.

Best. Signage. Ever.

For a little 2-1/2 mile long trail system, there are a zillion signs. I AM NOT COMPLAINING HERE. I can only wish all preserves were so well marked. Get lost here and you’ve really got some reading comprehension problems, is all I’m saying.

This hike is actually 2 Avalonia Land Conservancy preserves that abut each other, and the climb back up from the bottom of the little [currently dry] brook on Erisman Woodlands to the ridge of Babcock Ridge fame is a moderate climb, but not exactly the White Mountains. And once you get to the top of the ridge, it’s downright beautiful. This is my favorite part of the hike, and I got to see it twice… once on the way out and again on the way back.

They Read My Mind

They Read My Mind

Speaking of “the way back,” the climb back up to Babcock Ridge is a pretty steep one; much steeper than the climb from Erisman Woodlands. I was just contemplating the climb back up when I came upon this brilliant little sign! It’s still steep, don’t get me wrong, but does a little “hair-pinning,” making it an easier proposition.

You can find out more about these properties at the Avalonia Land Conservancy website.  There is a combined trail map on that page.

Great Cedars Conservation Park West

Posted By on September 10, 2016

Great Cedars Conservation Park West

1.25 miles; Old Saybrook, CT

This was a totally spontaneous stop on my way home from The Preserve—the structure below with the flags caught my eye.

Flag Festooned... Thing

Flag Festooned… Thing

I’d have gotten a close-up of the blue structure in there, but it was quite prominently posted “Private Property,” and I wasn’t about to test that. It looked like a shrine? An oven? Your guess is as good as mine.

According to the trail map, this trail system connects with another town property, but it was too hot and I just didn’t have the energy for any further exploration. Nice little spot, though.

Goose Pond

Goose Pond

As is the case everywhere I’ve been lately, there didn’t seem to be a lot of water in Goose Pond. But the invasive purple loosestrife looked gorgeous.

Outhouse

Outhouse

This is another in my continuing series, “Hikes with Bathrooms,” but you’ll forgive me, I’m sure, if I don’t give you a complete report. It was right beside the trail, but for all that, not particularly inviting. Plenty of TP, though. Also, you can’t see the sign in this shot. Here, allow me to enlarge…

Sign

Sign

If you still can’t make it out, it says, “Hey Guys! Pee in the woods. Thanks.” No, I don’t know who posted it, but I can imagine why…

You can find out more about this preserve, and the entire Old Saybrook Trail system, at the website of the Old Saybrook Land Trust.

The Preserve

Posted By on September 10, 2016

The Preserve

4.25 miles; Old Saybrook, CT

I have had this spot on my list for a long time… ever since reading a Hartford Courant article about it. Finally got there and there was a trail closure, so I’m gonna keep it on my list, I guess. But it was still a very interesting walk. Lots of elevation changes, though nothing too strenuous.

Trail Closure

Trail Closure

This sign was the first thing I saw as I entered the trail system. It was unfortunate, because some of the most promising highlights appeared to be on this trail. That’s why I’m keeping this on my “Hikes I’d Like to Do” map.

Fungus Shot!

Fungus Shot!

It’s been such a dry summer that there haven’t been many Fungus Shot opportunities. But I did find this simply adorable little ‘shroom on an old piece of stick.

Fern Shadows

Fern Shadows

Also got to see another obsession of mine: fern shadows. I love the patterns they make on things.

Shrine

Shrine

At one spot along the trail I came across what looked at first like a teepee of sticks, but was soon revealed to be a shrine? Maybe? To someone named Suellen? There were lots of little bits of things scattered around… painted rocks, little woven thingies, small dolls, marbles, beads…. it was kind of cool.

Oysters, I think

Oysters, I think

Again with the fungus, this time, I think they’re oysters.

You can find out more information about The Preserve from this DEEP webpage or this extensive site which includes a blog.

Machimoodus State Park

Posted By on September 4, 2016

Machimoodus State Park

3.5 miles; East Haddam, CT

Area I’ve never hiked in before? Check. Views of the Salmon River? Check. Mysterious noises dating back centuries? Check, check, and check! I was in.

This just started as a google maps perusal. I keep a custom google map of places I’d like to hike, named, uh, “Places I’d Like to Hike.” And I noticed there was a large area that had no icons in it anywhere, so I zoomed in and noticed a state park I’d never heard of, so I looked it up and that led to this link to the “Damned Connecticut” website. Here’s an exerpt:

Actually, the name “Moodus” comes from the local Native Americans who called the area “Machimoodus” long before settlers came to Connecticut, which roughly translated means “place of bad noises.” They believed the sounds were caused by the god Hobomoko, who apparently was a restless, violent and exceptionally noisy entity.

Quickly, to the bottom-line, no, I didn’t hear any of the noises, and I even climbed “Mount” Tom, such as it was. Still, it was a great hike.

Pond

Pond

There’s a lovely little pond at the entry to the park, with mown lawns and picnic tables. There are two sets of trails, one which heads back to the east towards Johnson Millpond and the Moodus River, and the other on the western part with named trails, Upper Vista and Lower Vista. The first part was a little unclear; there are no blazes and I think I ended up on private property at one point.

Signage

Signage

The “vista” trails were easier to follow, and more travelled. I did the Lower Vista and the Upper Vista trails. Not a whole lot of “vista” this time of year, to be honest, at least from the summit of Mount Tom. Too many leaves in the way. (And no mysterious noises either, alas.)

Sign of Impending Autumn

Sign of Impending Autumn

It was still pretty hot, but hey, it’s September. This Virginia Creeper knows cold is coming…

Connecticut River

Salmon River

This is the other overlook on the Upper Vista trail. You’re looking at Salmon Cove on the Salmon River. The Salmon River is a tributary of the Connecticut River, and the confluence of the two rivers is just south of here.

Overall, this is a very pleasant hike. Some decent elevation changes, some very nice overlooks, and one thing I didn’t get a chance to explore: Sunrise State Park, which is adjacent to Machimoodus. It’s a former resort park that the state purchased in 2009, and it now functions as a kayak park. This stretch of the Salmon River is known for its great kayaking. Maybe next visit?

You can find out more about Machimoodus State Park and view a trail map on the CT DEEP website.

Narragansett Trail, Green Fall Gorge

Posted By on August 23, 2016

Narragansett Trail, Green Fall Gorge

4.2 miles; Voluntown, CT

I went back today to one of my favorite local places. There’s not much water in the river, so the crossing, which can be hairy at times, was pretty tame. Otherwise it was an uneventful hike.

Moody and Beautiful

Moody and Beautiful

This stretch of the blue-blazed Narragansett Trail through the gorge is always an experience. It’s moody and beautiful and doesn’t seem like it’s even in southern New England.

Easy Crossing

Easy Crossing

Crossing the Green Fall River on this trail can be an adventure. I’ve done it when the water was raging through here, and when the rocks were covered in ice. Today it was a walk in the park, so to speak.

Peg Mill Shelter

Peg Mill Shelter

I took a very brief detour off the trail to visit the Peg Mill backpacking shelter. It’s very tidy and organized. There’s even a broom inside.

Everything You'd Need

Everything You’d Need

And hanging on the outside wall of the shelter is everything you’d need to cook a nice dinner!

My map of the entire Narragansett Trail is here. The section I hiked today was from Sand Hill Road to the State Line and back on Green Fall Road.