Saturday, April 21, 2012

Tillinghast Pond

Yesterday was our first visit to Tillinghast Pond Management Area in West Greenwich RI.  It is a 1900 acre preserve that has been created over the last 5 years by a joint effort of the RIDEM, the Town of West Greenwich and the Nature Conservancy.  It's only 30 minutes from our house and we've been meaning to go there since we first heard about it a couple of years ago.  After this visit all I have to say is "what took us so long?!"

The preserve is located off Plain Meetinghouse Rd in West Greenwich (map in the link above) and has three connected loop trails that together provide about 7 total miles of hiking potential.  On this visit we did everything except the .3 mile segment to the east of the pond and the .4 mile segment to the west.  We'll definitely be back here many times and will get those on a future trip.  The three loops each have a very different character and it's certainly worth exploring them all.

We started at the main parking area on the south shore of the pond and started the day with the Flintlock Loop.  This trail goes through the site of an early 1800's farmstead complete with a family cemetery, remains of the farm foundation and fruit trees and wildflowers that surely once surrounded the farm.

Nat exploring history in the family cemetery

Antique hues seem appropriate here

I wonder what Julia's story was

1825 must have been a very hard year


Common Cinguefoil

Apple blossoms

Apple tree next to the old farmhouse


I had been hoping for some spring wildflowers here, but was totally unprepared for the amazing display around the trails.  I'm sure that there are plenty of other spots in Rhode Island and southern New England when you can see Bluets and Cinquefoil, but this was the first time we'd found them.  These are some of my favorites when we're in the mountains and it was wonderful to find them so close to home.  There were plenty of additional surprises waiting for us later as well.

At the north end of the Flintlock Loop there is a split in the trail with a small loop that goes through a glacial "boulder garden" to the south and to something described on the sign as a viewpoint to the north.  We chose the north side and never found the supposed view.  Hmmm.  Boulder garden will be the option next time.

We came to the junction of the Pond Loop and headed north along the shore of the pond.  We soon came to a pretty spot on the shore with a bench (there are a number placed along the trails at strategic spots) and sat and enjoyed our lunch.  The temperatures had gotten quite warm and the cool breeze off the water felt wonderful.

The view across Tillinghast Pond from our lunch spot

Looking across the pond to the north shore and viewing platform

The area north of the pond has bog bridges, however the dry spring has made them quite unnecessary.  The trail here skirts hay fields that are leased to neighboring farms.  People that we met on the trail told us that this is a wonderful spot to come for sunset, with the sun going down over the trees beyond the fields.  They had pictures on their phone from one evening last week that were just stunning.  We'll be back soon to see for ourselves.

Bog bridges

Wood Anemone

Wood Anemone (five petals?)

North shore of the pond

Hay fields with the reported sunset views

Viewing platform on north shore of the pond

Further along the north shore of the pond we skirted another hay field that was rimmed with virtual gardens of wildflowers!  What a beautiful spot.

Gardens of Bluets and Cinquefoil

Common Cinquefoil


A field of flowers

This guy seemed to be very interested in the color of Nat's shirt

Wild Strawberry

Wild Cranberry ???

Blueberry blossoms

At the junction of the Coney Brook Loop trail we chose to skip the west shore of the pond (this time) and crossed the road to follow the Coney Brook Loop.  This loop leads through open fields and along another old farm, down into the woods along Coney Brook and then through an open area that is actively being logged (in partnership with the conservancy).  This trail has been open for less than a year and is still being established.  It is beautiful now and will only improve with time.

Blazes along the road at the crossing to Coney Brook Loop

Skunk Cabbages

Across the fields to the area now being logged

Pretty sturdy base for a railing!

White Violets on the edge of Coney Brook

The only other time I've seen this is along the shore of Lakes of the Clouds!

The typical soft, pine needled trails.  Such a nice walk!

Blueberry blossoms.  There will be berries everywhere here in a couple of months!

Arriving back at the Pond Loop junction and our starting point the wind had dropped, the pond was glassy and cotton candy clouds dotted the sky to paint a water color image to end the day.  This was truly a day to remind us that we don't always need to spend half a day driving to spend some beautiful time in the woods!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pawtuckaway Spring Blooms

We had a wonderful weekend this weekend hanging out with good friends and making our first visit to Pawtuckaway State Park to catch some early spring wildflowers.  We spent Saturday afternoon at the pre-Awards party at Kevin and Judy's.  It was a fun time and was great to see many old friends and make some new ones.  After an afternoon of celebration it was time to move on to the main event - the AMC 4000 Footer Awards.  It's just amazing how popular hiking the 4000 footers has become over the years.  There were over 500 new award applicants this year and it seemed like most of them were there Saturday night.  It was great seeing many of our friends receive awards!  It was also a joy to see so many families go up together to get their scrolls.  What a wonderful way to bring up your kids in the outdoors and spend family time together!  Perhaps next year we'll have a new reason to return...

Saturday night we crashed at Kevin and Judy's (thanks SO much for the hospitality guys!).  Sunday turned out to be just a beautiful summer day.  Only problem is this is just the 3rd week of spring.  We joked that it was a really nice day for August - except this is the other 'A' month.  We wanted to take advantage of the early spring blooms and Kevin suggested that we head to Pawtuckaway.  This was our first visit there are we'll definitely return.  Emma has unfortunately been dealing with an injured leg (which is hopefully going to be fixed very soon) so she and Judy hung out in the lowlands while Kevin, Nat and I took a hike.  It took a bit of convincing from Judy to keep Emma from following us up North Mountain (which she actually did for about half way).  Hard to keep that girl down!  We did a nice loop over North and through the boulder fields with several stops for views from the ledges and even more to check out the wildflowers.  It was a great day and a great weekend overall.  Thanks again Kevin and Judy for the wonderful hospitality and healing thoughts to Emma for a quick recovery.  We'll be thinking about you all today.

Beautiful morning on Powwow Pond

Swamp dog




Kevin moving in for the shot

Now that's a serious woodpecker!

Nat enjoys the sun on the ledges

Red Trilium



Emerging Bloodroot

Bloodroot garden


Reptile hunter!


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