Top Ten Hikes of 2014, Part 2

Posted By on December 31, 2014

Top Ten Hikes of 2014, Part 2

see part 1, here. and with no further ado, here is the rest of my best ofs.

number 5—canonchet preserve, hopkinton, ri



this is a brand-new set of trails that was added to the nature conservancy’s existing canonchet brook preserve. the fancy sign at the trailhead says it is part of the “dark skies borderlands trail system.” i believe this new section is actually the property of the hopkinton land trust. again, this hike has got it all. physical beauty, a bit of a challenge, and fantastic old ruins. the photo above is of a granite slab bridge over the canonchet brook just downstream from a mill spillway. whoever owns it, it’s a real winner. the trails are very well blazed and maintained. and as i said, you can continue off the hopkinton land trust property and onto the nature conservancy’s canonchet brook preserve. then, if you’re really ambitious, you can continue from there on to the eastern terminus of the narragansett trail, and hike that through the long pond/ell pond properties, then on to the boy scout’s camp yawgoog, and from there into connecticut, still on the narragansett trail, and then all the way to lantern hill in north stonington. you really could spend a full day hiking if you had a car spot, and hardly ever have to venture onto a paved road. trailhead, trail map

number 4—ri veteran’s cemetery & queen’s river preserve, exeter, ri

dad's grave

dad’s grave

in some ways, my dad is the reason i love nature so much. he was a naturalist, and a landscape painter, and i’ve been surrounded by his beautiful landscapes my whole life. so that makes this one is a little sad for me. i am a uri master gardener, and the master gardeners built and maintain a set of trails around the rhode island veteran’s cemetery property. i had never seen them, so i decided to make a day of it, and hike the master gardener trails, tack on a visit to the queen’s river preserve, which is quite nearby, and visit my dad’s grave on the 10th anniversary of his death. it was a very beautiful day in more ways than one and i was glad i did it. trailhead, trail map

number 3—tri-state trek, east thompson, ct

tri-state marker

tri-state marker

this is the most recent of my top ten, and the only other one besides weetamoo woods that i hiked as part of a group. i cobbled a couple of earlier hikes together to get this nifty 4-mile lollipop loop trail, and it’s a real winner. it includes an old railroad bed trail (actually, two old railroad bed trails!), the site of an historic train wreck, a beautifully-preserved root cellar (?), a cool geographic boundary marker, not one but two cross-state trails, gorgeous old cellar holes and three, count-’em three states. if you do only one of my top ten, i highly recommend you do this one. just be prepared for an arduous first mile or so. the rest is cake. trailheadtrail map

number 2—mattabesett trail/bluff head & lone pine trails, durham, ct

myer huber pond

myer huber pond

this is one very cool hike. central connecticut is home to what is known in geological circles as a massive “traprock ridge.” from the book Traprock Ridge: A Photographic Journey along a Geological Wonder by Eric Larson:

“The Traprock Ridge stretches from New Haven, on the Connecticut shoreline, northward along the Connecticut River Valley to the Massachusetts border. From there it follows the Pioneer Valley to the tri-state borders of New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

“The ‘Traprock Ridge’ is exposed rock outcroppings that consist of ‘Basalt’ or ‘Traprock;’ a hard rock that fractures easily.”

and interestingly, for students of rhode island history,

“The Traprock Ridge is often referred to by many as the ‘Metacomet Ridge’ or the ‘Metacomet Range.’ Metacomet is the name of the leader from the Native American Wampanoag Tribe. He took the European name ‘Philip’ and was later referred to as ‘King Philip’ by the colonists.”

anyway, due to some life circumstances, i ended up spending a good deal of time in central connecticut, and while i was there i hiked a number of sections of the cfpa’s blue-blazed mattabesett trail. this one was my absolute favorite. there were some great views from high atop the ridge, and fascinating trails through all kinds of woodlands. the mattabesett can be a pretty challenging trail, as i found out. i am pretty sure that whoever laid it out went out of their way to run it over and through some of the most rocky terrain possible. there were quite a few places where i was climbing on all fours, and doing a lot of swearing. but it was a fantastic experience. and by the way, the mattabesett trail is also part of the new england national scenic trailtrailheadtrail map

and now, the moment i know you’ve all been waiting for…

number 1—wickaboxet wildlife management area, west greenwich, ri

rattlesnake ledges

rattlesnake ledges

this hike really does have it all… gorgeous old cellar holes galore, historic cemeteries, overlooks, waterfalls, mysterious ant mounds, variations in terrain from pine forest to meadow, a bit of a challenge, well-blazed and maintained trails… it’s really my favorite place to hike. and you can hike anywhere from 4 miles to close to 10 miles, if you loop it in with the adjoining west greenwich land trust’s pratt conservation area and the nature conservancy’s tillinghast pond management area. there are at least 4 different trailheads for these combined properties, and i’ve hiked from them all. and now that there’s a bathroom at the tillinghast pond trailhead, that’s the one i recommend you start from. trailheadtrail map

and there you have it—my top ten hikes from 2014. thanks to each and every one of you who hikes with me, and maintains the trails, and contributes to the funds that make it all possible. and i hope i see you out on the trail in 2015. happy new year, all.


One Response to “Top Ten Hikes of 2014, Part 2”

  1. […] whew. this post is getting totally out of hand. i’m gonna break off here and continue later. best hikes of 2014, part 2, here. […]

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