By Guest Blogger Emily O’Donnell from Wakefield Denali
My boyfriend, Zach White, and I having been using “Weekend Walks in Rhode Island: 40 Trails for Hiking, Birding & Nature Viewing, Fourth Edition” by Ken Weber to explore Rhode Island. Each walk has a little description of how to get to the trailhead and what the trail is like, map and all. We add our own notes about the trail, for example, if certain trail markers aren’t there or if landmarks have changed. (Most of the time landmarks mentioned in the book are either gone or extremely vague)
This trail, Zach and I have done about 3 times in different variations. One of the longer variations is about 8-8 ½ miles that follows the shore then turns into a big look back to the beach. We parked right at the Beach Pond beach in the paved parking lot and start on the blue/yellow trail. According to the book, this is the most strenuous hike and rightfully so. There are a lot of ups and downs and part of the trail skirts along the edge of some mossy rocky ledges. It is also one of the longest hike in the book, 8 ½ miles. The stretches of trail near the shore are wonderful any time of year, just make sure you have layers in the winter. I believe there is a shooting range in the area because every once and a while you hear faint gun shots. We’ve done this trail on the hottest day in the summer and snowshoed it last month.
At one point in the trail there’s a fork were you can loop back or continue on. There’s a little mailbox at the fork full of notebooks that people have signed. We continued down the Pachaug Trail, which does cross into CT. Mountain Laurel crops up everywhere throughout the trail but there is a lovely little grove of it that the trail cuts through. There are tons of streams too, some seem to run underground. We filled our water filter bag with some nice fresh cold spring water for lunch later. As I mentioned earlier, the trail follows stony ledges covered in moss which can be tricky at times. The fallen trees didn’t help either. We ended up stopping at a large flat rock on the shore of the pond close to the boat ramp. Here, we ran into a couple that said they spotted a pair of Bald Eagles around the bend. Unfortunately we didn’t see or hear them but it was really wonderful to know that they were in the area. We ate and warmed up in the sun during lunch for about an hour then packed up and headed out.
The t rail comes up to the boat ramp and the large parking lot which is ALWAYS full of people in the summer. The trail picks back up on the edge of the parking lot and cuts through a lovely quite piney-beech forest. There is a little swamp-like section in here that is very pretty in the spring but very buggy in the summer. There is also another section where you follow stony ledges that again proved difficult, especially with all the large trees down. After a while you take a right and end up walking on a dirt/mud road usually full of large puddles. This continues on for about 2 miles or so. If you go when it is wet out, watch out for Jeeps going mudding! You follow the white tail back into the woods and loop back around to the start taking you right back to the main road. You can either cross the road and do the other trail, Hemlock, across the street or walk down the street a little bit back to the parking lot.