Wahaneeta Preserve and Woody Hill WMA

Posted By on November 18, 2014

Wahaneeta Preserve and Woody Hill WMA

3.81 miles; westerly, ri

i decided to pay a visit to a new (to me, anyway) westerly land trust property, the wahaneeta preserve. this is an old girl scout camp, and still has some of the infrastructure remaining from that time, including some cool fireplaces and a lodge. and it looks as though the westerly land trust folks are putting in brand-new bathrooms! in fact, i ran into some folks who were just leaving after putting in a morning’s work on the property, and i’m glad i did, because one of the very nice gentlemen i met told me about another trail leading from the westerly land trust property onto woody hill wildlife management area.

old lodge

old lodge

but not to get ahead of myself, here is the old girl scout lodge. it looks like it’s being well maintained. i decided to follow the perimeter trail from here until i got to the spot that leads off onto woody hill. the wahaneeta preserve itself is really kind of small, so it would hardly have made a decent hike by itself.

nooner tree

nooner tree

this land trust property is very well maintained and blazed. as i followed the perimeter trail i came upon this really massive old tree, and thought it must have been a “nooner” tree; i.e., a spot for livestock pastured here to hang out to avoid the noon-day sun, so it was likely pretty old.

tree plaque

tree plaque

sure enough, as i rounded the tree, i saw this plaque which means it’s registered as a significant tree. nothing to indicate its age.

blue blazes

blue blazes

don’t know who is responsible for clearing and blazing this trail, but it’s a sweet one! woody hill is absolutely lousy with stone walls and old foundations. you come across a big complex of cellar holes almost as soon as you leave the land trust land and enter the management area.

old, uh, thing

old, uh, thing

there’s even the occasional old, uh, thingy left here and there. i have no idea what this was part of. an old stove maybe?

huge swath of club moss

huge swath of club moss

botanically speaking, woody hill is interesting too. that complex of old cellar holes i mentioned is in the midst of a big grove of red cedar. you usually don’t see so many or such old ones, as they’re a pretty transitory species which quickly get overwhelmed by their more robust cousins, white pines, and then the deciduous trees follow. cedars need a lot of sun, so they usually don’t survive very well in forests. and in another area there was one of the biggest areas of club moss i’ve ever seen in one place. and they were all “candling,” or sprouting new growth. pretty cool.

curly tree

curly tree

the blue dotted trail ended at an old dirt road, which i found out later is woody hill road. not really knowing where i was or what was around, i just kind of decided to follow woody hill road for a while. the fellow at the parking area told me that i’d be better off just backtracking on the blue dot trail, as there isn’t a clearly marked loop. but i wanted to see a bit more of woody hill, so i kept walking north. this old tree was pretty interesting!

eventually i made a left turn where there was obviously and old track or road, and came upon another vast old cellar hole, this time surrounded by a big grove of tamarack trees which were all shedding their needles. it was raining yellow needles! and the trail was soft with them. you can kind of see the tamaracks in the background of the above photo (the yellow trees). the left turn i took isn’t far from this curly tree.

fungus

fungus

as i walked along beside the old foundation on the track i’d turned off onto, i noticed that it seemed to be flagged with yellow tape. hm. i checked the gps, and it looked as though it was headed back towards the blue dot trail, so i decided to follow it, and sure enough, it hooked back up with the blue dots, making a nice little loop. i’m guessing there will be further blazing in the future through here.

all in all, i have to say that this little taste of woody hill just made me want to come back and explore some more. i don’t usually like to go places that don’t have good maps, but this property is just too cool, and i may break my rule and just wander about.

i have added this hike to the hikefinder, but i cheated on the map. i just kind of pasted in the westerly land trust map and added it the bit with the blue dot trail.

Comments

4 Responses to “Wahaneeta Preserve and Woody Hill WMA”

  1. Anubis Bard says:

    This is only a few miles from my house and I’m ashamed to say I’ve never been up there. I’ll have to change that!

  2. auntie says:

    that always happens! i’d been living in north stonington for over 10 years, and hiking for over 2 before i got around to visiting the preserves in my own town.

  3. auntie says:

    also, i think part of the problem with woody hill is that there is no good place to access it from. there’s no main parking lot or anything like that. all the gates seem to be right next to people’s driveways. the best place, i think, is probably wahaneeta preserve, ironically.

  4. […] eventually came to the blue-dot trail i posted about before. this early spring vignette of a downed blazed tree and princess pine kind of made me […]

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