Green Fall Pond Area - Part I
Total distance: 4.43 miles (7.13 kilometers)
Total hiking time: approximately 1.5 to 2.5 hours
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 in the Pachaug State Forest (managed by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection) during Connecticut's hunting season. The hunting season starts on September 1 and runs through the end of February. Hunting is prohibited in Camp Yawgoog. Swimming at Green Fall Pond is only allowed at the designated area on the north side of the pond, near the campsites. Swimming is prohibited at all other locations around the pond.
This trail is part of the Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA) Narragansett Trail and is marked with pastel blue rectangles in Connecticut. It begins on Yawgoog's Blue Trail at the intersection of the Narragansett and Tippecansett trails, after leaving Dinosaur Cliffs and Caves. The hike occurs in Connecticut's Pachaug State Forest, named for the Pachaug River, which runs through it. "Pachaug" is a Mohegan word for "the fork or turning aside place" or "bend" -- a reference to the river's winding nature (Huden p. 161; Hughes and Allen pp. 748, 763).
Heading left (northwest) from the intersection, the trail comes upon a fork and stream, about 220 yards (201 meters) later. The left-hand (western) path crosses a bridge over the stream and leads to Green Fall Pond. Leading north from the fork, the right-hand path, the unmarked Green Fall Marsh Trail climbs large ledges that dip into the marsh (trail named in Williams and Tracy); the marsh was also known as "Burnt Swamp" (Map of Windham County; Hughes and Allen p. 614). Another unmarked path leads to the right (northeast) and ends at some caves. "The largest of these caves is 50 feet [(15 meters)] long running underground and is an adventure not to be missed." (Williams and Tracy) Hikers should be aware that black bears have returned to Connecticut and Rhode Island, so there is a possibility that caves could be inhabited. The Marsh Trail continues north a little bit longer and ends at a good place to observe wildlife, including deer, which come to the marsh to drink.
Larger cave near Green Fall Marsh
Green Fall Marsh
Returning to the fork, the main trail crosses the bridge and continues to go west; the bridge was built in 2014 by volunteers from the Center for Community Engagement at Eastern Connecticut State University. Shortly after leaving the bridge, the remains of a stone fireplace can be seen to the left (west) of the trail, in an oak grove. This fireplace is similar to those on the Yellow and Red trails. Exploration of the area might reveal the remains of a charcoal pit similar to the "Sawdust Pile" on the Green Trail. The trail crosses an intermittent stream shortly after leaving the fireplace.
Stone fireplace in winter
The trail eventually encounters the site of an old mill on Peg Mill Brook, a tributary of the Green Fall River. The mill's complex stone foundation features a 200-foot (61-meter), underground sluiceway, which runs from southwest to northeast. The tunnel was fed by a little pond confined by a small, simple, stone and earth dam; water still flows through the sluiceway after a heavy rain. The Williams and Tracy version of the trail guide names the location as the "old Thomas Mill site" (p. 6) and the brook as "Mill Brook." Hickox and Heyder refer to the mill as a "spool mill" (p. 17). The 1856 Map of Windham County labels the stream as "Saw Mill Brook." The author is seeking more information about the mill.
Southwestern end of sluice in winter
Video of the waterfall at the southwestern end of the sluice
Northeastern end of sluice in summer
Stone foundation of mill in winter
Possible stereograph of the mill on what is now called Peg Mill Brook, circa 1875
Caption: No'1 Modern Sawmill. Photographed & Published By M. Herbert Kenyon.
Ashaway, R. I. Greenfalls Views.
The trail passes over the remains of the dam and passes the unmarked path to the Peg Mill Shelter, built by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association in 2011. A plaque in the shelter indicates it was built in memory of Gini King, a "longtime trail supporter and avid hiker of Connecticut's trails." A reservation is needed from the Pachaug State Forest in order to camp in the shelter. A short footpath leads right (north) to the shelter from the old fireplace that served the former shelter.
Peg Mill/Gini King Shelter
The trail becomes a wide, grassy, fire-access road and reaches and intersection with a dirt road. Following the road left (south) will take hikers away from the public beach on Green Fall Pond to a curving dam/levee, discussed later. This road also heads right (north), intersecting with the Narragansett Trail on the left (west) within a few yards; this is the trail that leads to the beach.