The Story of the Yawgoog Trails

Unofficial

Blue Trail

Total distance: 1.26 miles (2.03 kilometers)
Total hiking time: approximately 30 minutes


Caution: Hikers should be very careful, by wearing at least 400 square inches (2,580 square centimeters) of blaze orange material, such as a vest, when hiking the Blue Trail during Connecticut's deer hunting season (September through February). Hunting is prohibited in Camp Yawgoog.

What is known as Yawgoog's Blue Trail is also part of the Narragansett and Tippecansett trails. In Rhode Island the Narragansett is marked with yellow and, in Connecticut, with blue. The Blue Trail begins at the Rhode Island/Connecticut boundary on Camp Yawgoog Road, almost 0.75 mile (1.2 kilometers) west of the Sandy Beach dining hall; walk single-file on the left side of the road. While on the road to the state line, travelers will pass the beginning of the Yellow Trail on the left (south) and the road to Hidden Lake on the right (north). Yellow markers can be seen on the trees along the road from the intersection to the beginning of the Blue Trail; these signify the last Rhode Island leg of the Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) Narragansett Trail and should not be confused with Yawgoog's Yellow Trail. The first portion of this trail will be marked in both blue and yellow.

At the state line (notice the boundary stone with "RI" and "CT" carved into it), the trail leads due north, following the boundary almost exactly. To the left (west), is Connecticut's Pachaug State Forest (managed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) and, to the right (east), is Yawgoog in Rhode Island.

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Rhode Island / Connecticut Boundary Marker
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.607', W 71° 47.527' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

A hike of roughly fifteen minutes will take explorers to the famous Dinosaur Caves and Cliffs. Just before the caves is a trail fork; the left branch leads to the entrance of the upper cave while the right branch descends to the swampy lower caves. After turning left at the fork, the trail scrambles up the enormous rock formation and arrives at the top of the cliffs. The wild and rocky terrain there seems appropriate for prehistoric monsters and, therefore, the name of Dinosaur Caves and Cliffs. A view of the treetops can be seen from here. The entrance to the upper cave is a narrow fracture in the rock; entry is prohibited for safety reasons.

Resuming near the entrance to the upper cave, the Blue Trail encounters a trail split. The Blue Trail bears right (east) and declines steeply to a fork at the base of the cliffs while a spur of the yellow-blazed Tippecansett Trail bypasses the steep but short drop by heading left (west); the spur soon rejoins the main trail. From the base of the cliffs the left the main Blue Trail and yellow-blazed Tippecansett Trail continue northward; to the right (south) a side-trail leads to the larger lower cave. This side-path used to connect with the previously mentioned fork just before the cliffs. The result was a path that would circle the base of the cliffs completely, joining the main trail at two places. Unfortunately, water and swamp have made this route impassable.

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Entrance to Upper Dinosaur Cave
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.963', W 71° 47.514' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

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Lower Dinosaur Cave
Image by David R. Brierley

Leaving Dinosaur Caves and Cliffs, the main Blue Trail continues north. It quickly reaches a short, somewhat overgrown path on the right (east) that ends at a narrow cave. This cave, unlike the upper cave at Dinosaur Caves, allows the explorer to climb through and exit from the bottom; if the bottom is too swampy it will be necessary to climb back through to the top. The explorer is likely to get very dirty, so entry is not recommended.

Just a few feet ahead on the trail is a juncture of the Narragansett (left/northwest) and Tippecansett (right/east) trails; the Narragansett Trail (marked in pastel blue) leads to Green Fall Pond. Yawgoog's Blue/Freeman Trail follows part of the Tippecansett Trail (marked in both yellow and dark blue) from the intersection. Yawgoog's Blue Trail originally ended at the intersection, but was officially extended through the Freeman Trail in the late 1990's, to create a loop back to camp.

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Border Junction
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 32.070', W 71° 47.513' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

After leaving the junction, the Blue/Freeman Trail descends a steep and rocky slope and crosses over a bog bridge. The trail then comes upon an enormous ledge; the seventh edition of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island Trail Guide calls it Dinosaur Rock (AMC p. 342), not to be confused with Dinosaur Caves and Cliffs. Reservation Superintendent Paul Forbes believes that a set of compass points has been carved somewhere into this ledge; it is a standing challenge for hikers to find this compass!

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Boulder on Dinosaur Rock
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 32.105', W 71° 47.479' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

As shown by painted arrows on the ledge, Yawgoog's Blue Trail and the AMC Tippecansett Trail separate. The Tippecansett heads left (north) to Rhode Island Route 138 (Spring Street/Rockville Road), while the Blue trail leads right (east) to camp. About 2 minutes after leaving Dinosaur Rock, the Blue Trail encounters a line of rocks on a ledge. This arrangement may have been a set of stepping stones to keep the moss on the ledge from being trampled. Old straight cuts can be seen on branches on the adjacent shrub, indicating it had been pruned to keep the rocks clear.

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Linear rocks
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 32.109', W 71° 47.348' (Datum: WGS84)

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Old straight cuts on branches on shrub beside linear rocks
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 32.109', W 71° 47.348' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

Just after leaving the linear rocks, the Blue Trail passes the Hill 431 Trail (created in 1992) on the left (northeast); the former bike trail climbs Hill 431, the highest point in the Reservation, and then connects with the Tippecansett Trail farther away. Non-campers should not continue any further south of the Blue Trail, as it leads to camp.

The Blue Trail runs along long series of ledges, called Seminary Ridge; this complements a ridge along Denison Hill Road called Cemetery Ridge. The 1976 version of The Story of the Yawgoog Trails asks, "Remember the Cemetery Ridge and Seminary Ridge of the Battle of Gettysburg?" (Williams and Tracy). The trail heads south, but then turns to the southeast and crosses an intermittent stream. Approximately 0.3 mile (0.5 kilometer) after leaving the former bike path, the trail crosses a stream and ends at a junction with the White Trail, which will be on the right (south). Sherwood Forest and its shelter are just ahead. The Sandy Beach dining hall can be reached by heading 0.5 mile (0.8 kilometer) southeast on the dirt road from Sherwood Forest. It should be noted that this last leg of the Blue Trail used to be part of the AMC Tippecansett Trail.
 

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