Sunday, November 29, 2009

Long and Ell Ponds - Hopkinton RI - 11-29-09

Poor Rhode Island isn't much of a hiking state. To be fair, for those of us who love hiking in the mountains it’s hard to find great hikes in RI or much of southern NE in general - but this is definitely our favorite in RI.

Long and Ell Ponds are jointly owned/protected by the Nature Conservancy and the RI Audubon Society. They are in the midst of a surprising number of trails on the RI/CT border that are part of the Yawgoog Trails. There is a wonderful site with trail maps, descriptions, history and much more here:

The main trails around Long and Ell ponds are part of the Narragansett Trail. There are three access points - one off North Rd (a dirt road with parking for 2-3 cars at the west end of Long Pond, a large parking area at the east end of long pond on Canonchett Rd and one on Stubtown Rd at the eastern terminus of the Naragansett Trail. We’ve used all three and used the Stubtown Rd access for the first time yesterday. We liked the extra mile or so each way that it provided on the Narragansett trail with some nice brook crossings and interesting (if not somewhat slippery) ledges.

The weather was beautiful for a late November day with sunshine and temps in the mid-50s. This trail is great in the spring when the Rhododendrons and Mountain Laurels that line nearly the entire route are blooming as well as in fall foliage season. It turned out to be really nice with all the leaves down now and the extra lake views along the way.

It’s really hard to believe that this hike is in Rhode Island. The trail is a nearly endless series of ups and downs - some quite steep with minor scrambling involved - and very rocky (lots of large glacial bounders). It’s a lot like the trails in Blue Hills Reservation south of Boston and is the only place I’ve hiked in RI where I could swear that I’m in northern NE (with a conspicuous lack of summits). For much of the hike the trail follows the south shore of Long Pond on the ledges high above. After dipping down to shore level in the bogs filled with Rhododendrons and back up to the ledges it finishes around the western end of the pond on a beautiful set of ledges that require a fun scramble. The ledges are covered with beautiful scrub pines and overlook the length of the lake. This is always our lunch/snack and soaking in the sun and views spot.

Not far past the ledges is the northwestern parking area and trail head. Continuing past this area you go across the border into CT and many other trail options around a bunch of other lakes and ponds in the area. We turned around at this point both due to time and the fact that there was a huge tree that had fallen right down the middle of the path. It turned out that it fell on Saturday in the middle of a hike that friends of ours were taking. It was standing when they passed it at the beginning and down when they returned. Happily nobody was around when it fell. The other nice part about this hike is that even though it’s an out-and-back the character is totally different in each direction and we thoroughly enjoyed the second half return trip.

We were jealous yesterday knowing that many of our friends were out hiking in the snowy mountains in NH, but this made for a great substitute (at least for now). Hopefully we’ll be in those snowy mountains soon…
Full album here:…ondHike112909#

The Granite Sidewalk

This can’t be Rhode Island

Pines on the Long Pond ledges

Long Pond from the ledges

Rhododendron lined paths

Glad nobody was on the path when this fell!

Reflections at the end of a great hike

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