Pachaug and Tippecansett

Both Pachaug and Tippecansett are real words.   In southeastern New England, there’s a lot of words like this.  It reminds me of a time in Providence when some obvious tourists asked me the names of the rivers.  “The Mohassuck and the Woonasquatucket”, I said, to which they replied, “Oh, come on!”.

This was one of those days where you are shiny with sweat, and only the continued motion of your body provides enough airflow to keep cool.   Stopping for a pee or a drink gets uncomfortably hot.  I think it hit about 90 degrees.  And there were bugs.

The trail starts just past Beach Pond in Arcadia Park in RI.   At one point you could swim in the pond, but it’s since been closed due to high bacteria counts.  As the RI side of the pond is in an undeveloped state park, and the CT side of the pond is lined with cottages, we’re looking at you, Connecticut.   As in, stop pooping in the pond.  This area of RI is rocky and ledgy, with lots of little ups and downs, and steep, however short, cliffs.   I’d been to this trail before in a normal year, and the “hemlock groves” were true to form – mucky, mosquito-infested swamps.   Since we’ve had two weeks of no rain and 80+ degree weather, it was tolerable.

You can find this and many other trails in Ken Weber’s excellent book, Walks and Rambles in RI.   I recommend doing the path in reverse, so that right before you back to the car, you can make use of some nice rocky areas where you can jump in the water.   There’s no swimming, so do it at your own risk.

Moving through the woods and steadily away from the sound of cars and weekend motorcylists on RI-165, the trail goes up and over some moderately steep ledges, although being RI, nothing is more than 50 or 100 feet at a time.   The path then hugs the eastern side of Beach Pond.

If you follow the path in the book, bear left and take the blue trail.   The heat, angle of sun, bugs, and dry forest instantly brought back memories of hiking through Norcal in 2018.   Good times.  I even sang a little for the full experience.

Eventually you cross into CT.   Sign in please.   The trail meanders a bit but eventually you reach the boat ramp and parking area for the pond on the CT side.   This took FAR longer than I had planned, either I’m REALLY slow and out of shape (I am), or the mileage is off (probably), or I fell victim to what I call Hiker Time Dilation Syndrome.   We normally have so much input and unnecessary noise coming at us that our brains are in constant alert mode.   The act of simply walking through woods for 15 minutes can seem to take forever, because “nothing is happening”.   And that’s exactly the point.

Now you start to really get into it.  In a good way.   Lots of ledges separated by hemlock groves.   As I mentioned above, in a normal summer these are impassable, mosquito-filled swamps.   Perhaps an over-exaggeration, but in the Northeast, hemlock = bad.   However today, despite the humidity, it’s been so hot and dry that things were more civil.

After what the book claims is “5 miles” the trail intersects a trashed out ATV/mud-truck road.   The scource of RI woodlands, these muddy tracks, often lined with beer cans, crisscross the management areas.   The trail hooks left and goes ever on, but the path back to the car is to follow the road.   It seems even ATV guys don’t want to get wet.

Watch for a fork after a short bit – your feet will keep you going straight for another half mile until you hit a dead end, in the middle of nowhere, on private property.

The proper road moves along now heading generally south, past a few side trails and interesting things to explore.

unlabelled cemetery
unlabelled but unforgotten cemetery

Around the time you start to hear the road, the path becomes less muddy and less beat.   At a sign, hook right and you’re back on the track you started on.   The paths criss-cross a few other ones, some herd paths to the water, but navigate by eye and ear and you will either come out to an old picnic area on the road about 100 yds from the parking area, or you’ll hit the parking area.

Across from the proper Beach Pond parking lot there’s a “boating and hiking” parking lot, with the obligatory “No Swimming” sign.   I waded down the boat ramp and the water was warm and shallow – not super refreshing like jumping off rocks, but at least a good place to wash up before heading home.


One Comment

  1. Gretchen E Maurer says:

    very informative and enjoyable from the comfort of my recliner LOL

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