Boxing Day Hike: Escoheag & Ben Utter Trails

Posted By on December 28, 2016

Boxing Day Hike: Escoheag & Ben Utter Trails

6.11 miles; Exeter, RI

Today was another “Take a Hike!” hike with Stephen Graham’s group. It was advertised as a hike on the Ben Utter Trail in Arcadia, but I thought Ben Utter was too short, so I parked at the Escoheag Trail trailhead and hiked in from there. Yes, I even went over “Auntie’s Bane.” At the end of Ben Utter, I started back on the road, but took an enticing-looking side trail, and it worked out great.

Escoheag Trail Trailhead

Escoheag Trail Trailhead

I started from the Escoheag Trail Trailhead off Escoheag Hill Road in Exeter. There is a little red cabin on the right as you head up Escoheag Hill Road from Route 165. And there is a little side road off the loop around the cabin called Ledge Trail. I parked at the end of this and headed into the woods.

Exeter Historical Cemetery #165

Exeter Historical Cemetery #165

Somewhere off to the side of the Escoheag Trail I noticed a shiny new “Historical Cemetery” sign, and wandered off to investigate. There really wasn’t much to see… the stones were plain granite slabs, and there weren’t too many of them at that. No nice stone wall enclosed the graveyard, either. It looked kind of forlorn. Even more than usual for an old cemetery.

Newly-Restored Picnic Pavilion

Newly-Restored Picnic Pavilion

At the end of the Escoheag Trail, you’re not more than 50 feet from the Ben Utter Trailhead, which is where I met my friends. Our leader took us up to see the newly-restored picnic pavilion at the Wickaboxet Camping area off the Tippecansett Trail, which, had he not, I would have requested, because it was restored with the help of friends of mine and I hadn’t seen it yet. It’s not quite done—signs indicate that there is still stonework to be done on the fireplaces, but what they have done is beautiful. Well done, Narragansett Chapter of the AMC!

Here is the main attraction of hiking the Ben Utter Trail… Stepstone Falls. It didn’t look anything like this the last time I was here. Glad to see so much water running over the rocks again.

Colby Cutoff Sign

Colby Cutoff Sign

Once we’d finished our “up and back” hike of the Ben Utter Trail, I still had to get back to my car. I nobly refused several offers of a ride… the whole point of hiking to this trailhead was exercise, ammirite? But I did decide to cut myself some slack and hike back on the gravel Plain Road, rather than re-negotiate the Escoheag Trail. I did notice a rather long northward loop in the road, though, which I was a little resentful at having to walk, so when I saw this sign I thought to myself, “Aha! Cutoff! That must mean it ‘cuts off’ that little loop!” So I took it, and it kind of sort of did.

Another Historical Cemetery

Another Historical Cemetery

Along my travels I saw another historical cemetery, and the contrast between this one and the last one could not have been more stark. This was very large, very tidy, and surrounded by an arrow-straight rock wall with nicely-carved monuments. Guess this is where the rich folks in the neighborhood ended up.

My Track (click for details)

My Track (click for details)

Here is my track for this hike. As usual, click to get the details and to download the gpx file. Trailhead: 41.588855, -71.757446; 230 Escoheag Hill Road, Exeter, RI.

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