The Story of the Yawgoog Trails

Green Fall Pond Area - Part II

By David R. Brierley


Back: Green Fall Pond Area - Part I


Heading toward the beach, the trail turns left (west) from the road and descends a rock ledge with a stream, the Green Fall River, trickling down it to the right; the trail then crosses the stream. Soon, another intersection of trails is reached at a view of Green Fall Pond, also called "Greenfall Reservoir" (Hughes and Allen p. 614). "Green Fall" is often misspelled as "Green Falls" -- with an "s"; the 1856 Map of Windham County and the US Geological Survey use "Green Fall." The trail to the left (southeast) is the Narragansett Trail and is marked in blue; it crosses the Green Fall River on a bridge heads to an earthen dam/levee. The trail to the right (northwest) is marked with red dots on blue rectangles; it is the Pachaug/Narragansett Crossover. The Crossover leads to a dirt road (Green Fall Pond Road) that serves the area around the beach; it also leads to the CFPA Pachaug Trail, which is part of The Beachgoer. The pond is the southeastern terminus of the Pachaug and Nehantic Trails.

After taking the right-hand trail, hikers should turn left at the road (southwest) and travel on the road, crossing the gate; the Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA) Pachaug Trail, marked in blue, arrives at this juncture from the north. This road passes by another trail, leaving from a small parking area, to the left (south) within a few yards; this trail can be taken on the way back. After passing by this trail, the road crosses two streams and passes by a campground of the Pachaug State Forest on the right, followed by a water pump (disabled in winter); waterless latrines, picnic tables and a beach are to the left. Permits are required for camping and campfires in the State Forest. The picnic areas, camping sites, earthen dam and even the road to the pond were built in the 1930s and early 1940s by the Civilian Conservation Corps' Camp Lonergan; the camp was named after Connecticut Representative and Senator Augustine Lonergan. A nice footbridge crosses a stream in the campground; it was designed and built in May 2001 as an Eagle Scout project by Brian Hedler of Troop 75 Preston, Connecticut.

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Green Fall Pond, near swimming area
Coordinates: N 41° 32.202', W 71° 48.599' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

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Hedler Bridge
Coordinates: N 41° 32.227', W 71° 48.635' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

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Panoramic view of Green Fall Pond from the swimming area
Coordinates: N 41° 32.135', W 71° 48.596' (Datum: WGS84)
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Panoramic view of Green Fall Pond in autumn
Coordinates: N 41° 32.135', W 71° 48.596' (Datum: WGS84)
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Google Map

Caution: 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.

When leaving the beach, hikers can go back to Camp Yawgoog the way they came, by taking the second trail (blue/red) on the right (south) from the dirt road; however, the suggested return route begins with the first trail on the right, mentioned earlier. This trail, marked with blue rectangles and orange dots (Green Fall Pond Trail), parallels the eastern shore of the pond and arrives at another juncture of trails; the left (northeast) branch ultimately returns to the mill site while the right (south) branch eventually meets with the first of two dams. Heading toward the dams, the trail is now marked with solid blue rectangles, indicating that it has rejoined the Narragansett Trail.

Before reaching the first dam, the Narragansett Trail crosses the Green Fall River on a bridge, built by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association.

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Bridge over Green Fall River, on the pond's east side
Coordinates: N 41° 32.012', W 71° 48.387' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

After crossing the bridge, a split is reached. The Narragansett climbs up to the left (east). An unmarked path veers right (west), avoiding the climb and running along the edge of the pond. The Narragansett Trail climbs up the slope to meet another side path on the left (east) that connects to the dirt road mentioned earlier. (Following the road left/northeast leads to the intersection first encountered after leaving the shelter near the mill site. Following the road right/southwest leads to a dam/levee, mentioned below.) Leaving the side path and dirt road behind, the Narragansett Trail heads right (southwest) to rejoin the unmarked path that follows the shore.

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Vista of Green Fall Pond, from the east
Coordinates: N 41° 31.900', W 71° 48.415' (Datum: WGS84)
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Google Map

The trail soon meets with the dirt road again at the end of a wide curving dam/levee with a stone wall to the left (southeast). This replacement dam was built from 1937 to 1940 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, using rock quarried nearby (Roche; "Test Holes Started"). The road continues southeast below the levee to meet Green Fall Road at Peg Mill Brook. The Narragansett Trail proceeds on top of the curved dam/levee.

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Green Fall Pond levee
Coordinates: N 41° 31.854', W 71° 48.353' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

After the dam/levee, the trail continues to follow the shoreline, climbing a hill covered with hemlock; from this hill hikers will notice that the water has a green color from the reflection of the surrounding hemlocks. This could be the reason the pond is called "Green Fall Pond." After it descends the hill, the path reaches the Green Fall Pond Dam, where swimming is prohibited. The solid blue blazes of the Narragansett Trail avoid the dam's causeway by turning southward to descend the eastern edge of the dam into a deep ravine; this is the way back to camp. (The orange and blue blazes mark the Green Fall Pond Trail, which crosses the causeway, leaving the ravine behind, then circles the pond.) Global Positioning System (GPS) users should be aware that signal reception may be limited in the ravine.

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View of Green Fall Pond from the dam
Coordinates: N 41° 31.704', W 71° 48.592' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

From the base of the dam, the stone facade can be seen towering well overhead. After rain or during early spring the spillway is full of falling water, making a truly beautiful sight. The trail follows the cool and beautiful ravine, crossing the Green Fall River once along the way. Hikers should be aware of the fact that the rocks are likely to be slippery after recent rains.

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Spillway of Green Fall Pond Dam
Coordinates: N 41° 31.704', W 71° 48.592' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map


Video of the spillway at Green Fall Pond

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Green Fall River ravine near the base of the dam

The Green Fall River may be following an inactive fault that is associated with the early formation of the Atlantic Ocean (Altamura, Tectonics of the Lantern Hill Fault p. 67); see the Lantern Hill section of the Narragansett Trail for more information.

A large stone cairn will be seen on the right (northwest); it appears that hikers have been adding stones to the top over the years.

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Green Fall River sluice cairn
Coordinates: N 41° 31.496', W 71° 48.587' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

One theory about the cairn's creation is that it was built by Naive Americans to mark the site as being significant for some reason; Native Americans in New England are known to have built cairns (Butler; Jett). A more likely explanation is that the structure is a support for a wooden sluice system that used to divert water from the Green Fall River to an unnamed stream that fed a small mill nearby. The stereograph below shows the sluice system circa 1875; the view is northward. Note the cairns being used as supports near the left edges of the images.

(stereograph)
Stereograph of wooden sluice on cairns in Green Fall River ravine, circa 1875
Caption: Greenfalls Views. Voluntown, Conn. M. Herbert Kenyon. Photographist.
Coordinates, based on rock formations: N 41° 31.515', W 71° 48.581' (Datum: WGS84)
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Modern view of Green Fall River ravine
Coordinates: N 41° 31.515', W 71° 48.581' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

The surviving cairn is not in the stereograph and little remains of the others, but the rock formations indicate the photographs were taken at a location just a few yards north of it. Off the trail, two or three smaller cairns can be found to the southwest of the large surviving one. These may have supported the sluice downward to a covered conduit (now filled in) under an old dirt road; the unnamed stream is on the other side of the road. Just downstream is the foundation of what appears to have been a small mill - a short distance west of the blue-blazed Narragansett Trail; the 1856 Map of Windham County depicts a shingle mill in the area. The unnamed stream flows into the Green Fall River just south of Green Fall Road.

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Smaller stone cairn
Coordinates: N 41° 31.490', W 71° 48.596' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

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Possible site of shingle mill, showing stone walls on both sides of a stream
Coordinates: N 41° 31.439', W 71° 48.578' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

Leaving the large cairn, the Narragansett Trail crosses an east-west trench that connects the two streams that run under Green Fall Road. The Connecticut portion of this dirt road is known as Green Fall Road; the Rhode Island portion is called Camp Yawgoog Road. Blue blazes of the CFPA Narragansett Trail continue away from camp along Green Fall Road to the right (southwest). Green Fall Road climbs uphill and eventually reaches Studio Farm.

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Stone bridge over Green Fall River
Coordinates: N 41° 31.380', W 71° 48.538' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

By following the road left (east) adventurers can return to Yawgoog, after passing a parking area on the right (southeast); walk single-file on the left side of the road. On the way, Green Fall Road crosses Peg Mill Brook, near a gated road that leads back to the dam/levee. Two overgrown foundations exist northeast of the crossing of the two roads; one is a small stone-lined cellar hole while the other is a more complex arrangement of cut stones.

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Stone-lined cellar hole
Coordinates: N 41° 31.489', W 71° 48.302' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

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Foundation of cut stones
Coordinates: N 41° 31.507', W 71° 48.324' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map


Video of Peg Mill Brook at Green Fall Road

Heading to camp, Green Fall Road rises to meet Denison Hill Road (also known as Laurel Glen Road and Laurel Hill Road), which enters from the right (south). The Palmer-Newton Cemetery (Hale, Voluntown pp. 33, 58) is located on the hillside behind the fork -- to the southwest, which is why the hill is called Cemetery Ridge. It complements Seminary Ridge on the Freeman Trail (Williams and Tracy). The cemetery used to serve as the appropriate destination for what "Gus" Anthony called "Ghost story hikes" (Anthony, letter, 13 Mar. 1991); the stories were fictional, of course. The cemetery's inscriptions date back to 1812; during the nineteenth century, the area had several farms and a school (Map of Windham County, Connecticut; Blakeslee p. Schools 2).

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Palmer-Newton Cemetery
Coordinates: N 41° 31.290', W 71° 48.210' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

Denison Hill Road ultimately leads to the villages of Laurel Glen and Clarks Falls in North Stonington, Connecticut. While this area seems remote from modern life, consider that an area abutting Yawgoog, between Denison Hill Road and the state border, was briefly considered as a potential disposal site for low-level radioactive waste in the 1990s! (Carbone, "N. Stonington Dropped"; Carbone, "Nuclear Dump Sites Proposed"; Villarreal)

The Green Fall Pond area is located within the Connecticut town of Voluntown. According to the History of New London County, Connecticut, Voluntown got its name because volunteers who fought in the King Philip's War were given plots of land in the area in 1706 (Hurd p. 745). "Gus" Anthony writes that at least two of these parcels may exist on the eastern (left-handed) side of Denison Hill Road before the farmhouse is reached; these lots "were long and narrow and ran deep into the woods," with stones marking the Rhode Island/Connecticut boundary. These stones have the initials "IB" carved into them, which, according to Anthony, mean "Indian Boundary" (or perhaps "Interstate Boundary"); the land east of the stones -- what is now Yawgoog -- is said to have been open to the local Native Americans. At least two houses used to exist on these lots, but only the cellar holes remain. These houses were lighted by lamps fueled by acetylene gas produced from the mixing of calcium carbide and water. There were also fields in the area where reservation-wide "Scoutcraft Competition Hikes" used to be held. (Anthony, letter, 15 Feb. 1991; Anthony, letter, 13 Mar. 1991)

Continuing northeast on Green Fall Road from the intersection with Denison Hill Road, the hike finally returns to the start of the Blue Trail on the state line. Metcalf Lodge is farther east down the road.

Driving Directions to Green Fall Pond from Yawgoog: Turn left at the intersection of Route 138 (Spring Street) and Camp Yawgoog Road and proceed west 4.4 miles (7.1 kilometers). Turn left (southwest) onto the Green Fall Pond/Pachaug State Forest entrance on a dirt road (Green Fall Pond Road). At 0.8 mile (1.3 kilometers) an intersection is reached; the dirt Fish Road leads right (west) to Route 49 (Pendleton Hill Road) while the road to the pond (Green Fall Pond Road) is straight ahead (south). During weekends and holidays in summer, a parking fee is collected at the booth near the intersection. Green Fall Pond and its amenities are 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers) southeast of the intersection. A separate camping fee is collected for use of the campsites. Please note that the roads may be closed in winter.

Caution: 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.
 

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