NEMBA’s Burlingame

Posted By on June 8, 2019

NEMBA's Burlingame

7.7 miles; Charlestown, RI

This was a great exploratory hike with my pals Bob and Mel of some of the many NEMBA-created mountain bike trails in the northern part of Burlingame State Park. They are really lovely trails, and well marked. We also saw a mysterious structure at North Camp on Wachaug Pond [Ed. Note: mystery solved, to some extent… see update below].

You’re probably asking, “Auntie, what the heck is a NEMBA?” Good question. NEMBA is the New England Mountain Bike Association, and I’ma be lazy now and outsource the description to their own website:

We are a recreational trails advocacy organization with 27 chapters throughout New England and over 7,000 members. Our mission is to promote the best that mountain biking has to offer, steward the trail systems where we recreate and preserve open space. We are an educational 501 (c) 3 non-profit.

We lead nearly a thousand mountain bike rides a season, put on various skills clinics and trail building schools, and advocate for mountain biking and recreational trails. We put on hundreds of trail building and maintenance events in scores of parks in the region, and donate over 8,000 hours of volunteerism to local parks.

We work with key leaders and land managers to protect our sport and allow our members to give back to the trails and to the sport they love.

And um, yeah, so that’s NEMBA. They’ve done a lot of work in the northern end of Burlingame State Park (as opposed to the wildlife management area of the same name), by clearing and blazing and maintaining some gorgeous trails. And that was part of our exploration.

Tree Balls

Tree Balls

I met my friends at the old Bucky Beaver trailhead for the Vin Gormley Trail on Kings Factory Road in Charlestown, and couldn’t help myself when I saw these rather suggestive oak galls. I mean, you’re never too old to be immature, ammirite?

Cool Ramp on Sammy C's

Cool Ramp on Sammy C’s

We quickly headed off the Vin Gormley and onto Sammy C’s trail, which led us on a wonderful odyssey through ledges and dense forest which made us feel, at times, very far from Rhode Island. I really can’t emphasize enough how great these trails are. Good luck, though, finding a decent map. I was unsuccessful.

Excellent Signage

Excellent Signage

The signage is excellent, though. All these trails have names, and they’re all blazed. The School House Pond Trail (which does not, by the way, go to School House Pond) is an old blue-blazed trail that I tried to follow once like, 5 years ago, and at that time it was a mess, with lots of deadfall and missing blazes. Well no more!

Lunch Break at North Camp

Lunch Break at North Camp and a mystery…

So for our lunch break, we meandered back across the Vin Gormley, and down to the beach at North Camp. Where we discovered lots of clearing, and forbidding-looking “No Trespassing” signs and this structure. We didn’t even dare explore it, as the signs talked about multiple video cameras watching our every move! We kind of speculated that maybe the state is thinking about re-opening the old North Camp as a primitive, hike-in-hike-out campground, but the signs, while quite verbose about watching us and warning us, gave us no hints when it came to the purpose of all this stuff. Mysterious indeed!

[To resolve this mystery, all that was needed was time. This article appeared in the Westerly Sun on June 28th, written by my pal Cynthia Drummond, no less: ‘Demo campsite’ built for DEM raises alarms in Charlestown. Briefly, it was a demonstration area created by the company that manages the big Burlingame Campground and the actual administrator of the DEM, which oversees Burlingame, didn’t even know about it. It has since been removed.]

You can find out more about NEMBA from their website, linked above, and more about Burlingame State Park from this State of RI website. As always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.


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