The Story of the Yawgoog Trails

Unofficial

Mount Misery

Total distance: 10.4 miles (16.7 kilometers)
Total hiking time: approximately 4 to 6 hours


Don't let the name fool you! This route follows a portion of the Nehantic Trail from Mount Misery to Green Fall Pond in the Pachaug State Forest in Voluntown, Connecticut; it then follows the Narragansett Trail to the Connecticut/Rhode Island border and ends at Yawgoog's T. Dawson Brown Gateway. A good time for this hike is in mid-October when the foliage begins to turn color.

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 Connecticut during the state's hunting season. The hunting season starts on September 1 and runs through the end of February. Hunting is prohibited in Yawgoog.

Note: The portion of the trail running southeast from the combined Routes 138 and 165 to the crossing with the enduro motorcycle trail is on private property. Hunting, fishing, geocaching, horses and vehicles are prohibited on that section.

Driving Directions from Yawgoog: Turn left at the intersection of Route 138 (Spring Street) and Camp Yawgoog Road and proceed west about 5.5 miles (8.8 kilometers) to the junction with Route 165 in Connecticut. Turn left (west) onto the combined Routes 138 and 165 (Beach Pond Road) and proceed for just over 1 mile (1.7 kilometers) and turn right (north) onto scenic Route 49; just before reaching the intersection, Routes 138/165 cross the Nehantic Trail. Continue driving 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) and turn left (west) into the Pachaug State Forest; the Nehantic Trail follows Route 49 to this point. Follow the paved Park Road/Headquarters Road, under posted speed, for 0.7 mile (1.1 kilometers), avoiding the right turn to the headquarters building. Bear left (northwest) at the 3-way intersection onto Cutoff Road, which becomes a dirt road after crossing Mt. Misery Brook. Two more 3-way intersections follow in short order; bear right (northwest) at both, avoiding the campground. About 0.2 mile (0.4 kilometer) after leaving the camping area, turn left (south) onto Firetower Road and turn left (northeast) after another 0.5 mile (0.9 kilometer). Parking is available at the loop at the base of Mount Misery.

Driving Directions from Interstate 95: Take Exit 5A in Rhode Island to Route 102 (Victory Highway) and head east about 0.6 mile (1 kilometer); veer right onto Route 3. Travel south for 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) and turn right onto Route 165 (Ten Rod Road). Proceed west for 10.6 miles (17 kilometers) on Route 165, past Beach Pond into Connecticut; along the way Route 138 (Spring Street) merges with Route 165. Turn right (north) onto scenic Route 49; just before reaching the intersection, Routes 138/165 cross the Nehantic Trail. Continue driving 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) and turn left (west) into the Pachaug State Forest; the Nehantic Trail follows Route 49 to this point. Follow the paved Park Road/Headquarters Road, under posted speed, for 0.7 mile (1.1 kilometers), avoiding the right turn to the headquarters building. Bear left (northwest) at the 3-way intersection onto Cutoff Road, which becomes a dirt road after crossing Mt. Misery Brook. Two more 3-way intersections follow in short order; bear right (northwest) at both, avoiding the camping area. About 0.2 mile (0.4 kilometer) after leaving the camping area, turn left (south) onto Firetower Road and turn left (northeast) after another 0.5 mile (0.9 kilometer). Parking is available at the loop at the base of Mount Misery.

From the loop, the blue blazes of the Nehantic Trail immediately climb the hill, but beware of unmarked paths in the area. The Nehantic Trail overlaps the Pachaug Trail during the first part of this hike; both routes are maintained by the Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA). After a short steep climb a fine view can be seen from Mount Misery, also known as Misery Hill. The hill, like Hell Hollow to the north, got its name because the land in the area is poor for farming -- creating misery for those who tried to settle here (Phillips p. 49; "Moving 30 Families" p. 24). A fire tower once stood on this hill (Heermance p. 265).

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Panoramic view from Mount Misery
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.341, W 71° 52.369' (Datum: WGS84)
Larger image

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Panoramic view from Mount Misery in autumn
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.341', W 71° 52.369' (Datum: WGS84)
Larger image
Google Map

The trail descends the hill, climbs again, then descends to eventually turn right (southeast) onto Cutoff Road. The trail/road soon passes by a short (0.2-mile/0.4-kilometer) wheelchair-accessible path and boardwalk to the left, north, in the Rhododendron Sanctuary, which winds among large ferns to an observation deck on Mount Misery Brook. The path was created by the CFPA and the Norwich Free Academy's Outing Club in 1998 (CFPA p. 212). Native rhododendron tend to bloom in mid-July, about a month after cultivated rhododendron bloom.

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Rhododendron Sanctuary
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.729', W 71° 52.073' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

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Native rhododendron bloom (Rhododendron maximum)
Image by David R. Brierley

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View of Mount Misery Brook from the observation deck
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.821', W 71° 52.077' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

Back at the road, the trail crosses Mount Misery Brook and veers left (northeast) to cross the picnic area; drinking water and waterless latrines are available here. Permits are required for camping and campfires in the State Forest. It is important to note that the picnic areas, campsites, dams and other features throughout the Pachaug State Forest were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps' Camp Lonergan; the camp was named after Connecticut Representative and Senator Augustine Lonergan. Winch and Schreeder write, "One of the first C. C. C. camps in Connecticut was established on the Forest in 1933. It was also the last to close (1941)" (p. 5). A plaque and a monument in the picnic area, where the camp was located, commemorate the Corps. This section is now known as the Herman Haupt Chapman Management Area; Chapman was Harriman Professor of Forest Management at Yale University and President of the Society of American Foresters in the early 20th century.

(postcard)
Postcard of Camp Lonergan gateway, circa 1937
Caption: 179th Co. C.C.C. Voluntown Conn.

(postcard)
Postcard of Camp Lonergan, circa 1937
Caption: 179th Co. C.C.C. Voluntown. Conn.

Plaque saying: To Honor The Men Of Camp Lonergan, Company 179, Established 1933, Civilian Conservation Corps, 1933 - 1942, Created By President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Renewing The Country's Natural Resources And Challenging The Human Spirit Of A Nation In Depression
Plaque commemorating the Civilian Conservation Corps
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.605', W 71° 51.919' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

Stone monument with inscription: To Honor The Men OF C.C.C. Co. 179, 1933 - 1942, And To The Men Who Served In W.W. II, Donated By William I. Carlson
Stone monument to the Civilian Conservation
Corps and World War II veterans
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.654', W 71° 51.885' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

The blue trail blazes cross the "Doug's Place" picnic area, heading northeast, into the forest. The Pachaug and Nehantic Trails, which have shared the same route since the start of the hike, soon split apart. The Pachaug Trail turns to the left (north) while this hike veers right (southeast) on the Nehantic Trail. The path becomes an overgrown road which crosses the paved Park Road/Headquarters Road at a small parking area. The trail soon arrives at an observation deck overlooking Beachdale Pond; a small picnic spot and parking area are here, as well.

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Panoramic view of Beachdale Pond
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.075', W 71° 51.435' (Datum: WGS84)
Larger image

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Panoramic view of Beachdale Pond in autumn
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.075', W 71° 51.435' (Datum: WGS84)

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View of Beachdale Pond in winter
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.075', W 71° 51.435' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

The trail leaves the observation deck, heading east to carefully cross Route 49 (Ekonk Hill Road); turn right (south) and walk in single-file on the left side of the road, facing oncoming traffic. Another parking area and observation deck are here, but the best views are from the bridge over the Pachaug River.

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Autumn view of Pachaug River, from the eastern side of the Route 49 bridge
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.051', W 71° 51.321' (Datum: WGS84)

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Autumn view of Pachaug River, from the
western side of the Route 49 bridge
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.051', W 71° 51.321' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

After crossing the bridge, walk south on Route 49 for about 0.4 mile (0.7 kilometer) and turn left (east) onto the blue-blazed path into the forest. Cautiously cross the Shetucket Turnpike and re-enter the woods on a dirt road. Look carefully to the right (south), as the trail soon leaves the dirt road. Very carefully cross Routes 138/165 (Beach Pond Road) onto the dirt Welles Road, a private access road.

Note: The next portion of the Nehantic Trail, running on Welles Road then into the forest to cross the enduro motorcycle trail is on private property. Hunting, fishing, geocaching, horses and vehicles are prohibited on this section. Please stay on the blue-blazed trail.

Walk on the private Welles Road for about 0.5 mile (0.8 kilometer) and turn right (south) to cross a wooden bridge over a stream, which is actually the curved, stone-lined spillway of a small earthen dam. Do not proceed any further on Welles Road, as it leads to a private residence.

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Curved, stone-lined spillway
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 34.223', W 71° 50.423' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

After running atop the low dam, the trail runs through the private forest. Along the way, the blue blazes make an abrupt turn to the right (east) at an intersection with an unmarked path; avoid the unmarked path, which veers left (north) to the private residence. The Nehantic Trail re-enters the Pachaug State Forest just before crossing the State Forest's enduro trail for registered motorcycles; motorcycles are only allowed on the enduro trail, which is marked with red arrows. Although motorcycles are prohibited on this portion of the Nehantic Trail, some motorcyclists are leaving the enduro trail and using the blue-blazed path to create new trails on the private land. Yellow and black signs marking the edge of the State Forest can be seen a few yards from the crossing of the enduro trail and the Nehantic Trail.

The blue blazes of the hiking path wind through the State Forest and eventually cross the dirt Fish Road. An 1856 map shows several residents with the surname "Fish" living along this road (Map of Windham County); the Fish family is believed to be the first European family to settle in Voluntown (Larned vol. 1 p. 242). Just after crossing the road, the Nehantic-Pachaug Crossover Trail (1.2 miles / 2 kilometers), marked with red-on-blue blazes, leads off to the left (east). It parallels Fish Road and proceeds to the nearby juncture with Green Fall Pond Road and the Laurel Loop Trail; it later connects with the Pachaug Trail.

From Fish Road the solid blue blazes of the Nehantic Trail head south then southeast to cross Green Fall Pond Road and then a stream by a rock formation. The Nehantic Trail ends at Green Fall Pond, which is also the southeastern terminus of the Pachaug Trail. Green Fall Pond offers a water pump (disabled in winter), waterless latrines, campsites, picnic areas, and a swimming area (no lifeguard). Permits are required for camping and campfires in the State Forest.

To continue on to Yawgoog, hikers should briefly follow the solid blue blazes of the Pachaug Trail on the dirt road around the northern side of the pond, toward the campsites. Look carefully to the right (south) for a path, starting from a small parking area and marked in orange-on-blue, that hugs the shore of the pond. Just before the orange-on-blue markings cross the Green Fall River (about 1.25 miles/2 kilometers after leaving the road), look for the solid blue blazes of the Narragansett Trail that head left (northeast) and away from the pond. Follow the solid blue markings to the shelter and old mill site on Peg Mill Brook, then on to the junction with the yellow-blazed Tippecansett Trail. From this junction, bear right (south) to follow the yellow and blue marks to Dinosaur Cliffs and Caves and then to Camp Yawgoog Road at the state border. After turning left (southeast) onto the road, the hike reaches its end at the T. Dawson Brown Gateway. Please see the Green Fall Pond area for more information.
 

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