The Story of the Yawgoog Trails



Yawgoog Scout Reservation (Camp Yawgoog) is very fortunate to have an extensive network of hiking trails spreading throughout more than 1,800 acres (730 hectares) of its property. Some are easy to hike and are close to the campsites, while others feature cliffs and stretch out into miles. In fact, the network extends south into the 1000-acre (400-hectare) Rockville Wildlife Management Area, north into the 14,000-acre (5,700-hectare) Arcadia Wildlife Management Area and westward into the 24,000-acre (9,700-hectare) Pachaug State Forest in Connecticut. The trail network began with the Toad Rock Trail in 1919, followed by the openings of most of the others soon after the forest fire of 1930. This network has provided an enormous wealth of enjoyment for thousands of hikers, fishers, and campers over the decades since then.

Many people have deeply appreciated this wealth; Chief J. Harold Williams and Philip E. Tracy are two such people. J. Harold Williams served as Scout Executive of Narragansett Council from 1919 to 1962 and Director of Camp Yawgoog from 1919 to 1950; it was during this time that Williams became familiar with the history of the area. He was the primary creator of the trail system; he also was largely responsible for naming many landmarks, like Dinosaur Caves and Smugglers' Cliffs, adding an imaginative dimension to hiking. After more than forty years of experience with Yawgoog, he wrote the original Story of the Yawgoog Trails in 1961, shortly before his retirement the following year. Philip E. Tracy served as Reservation Director from 1971 to 1980; he and other staff wrote additional material for a version of The Story in 1976 to account for changes.

As times change, so do Yawgoog's trails; this is why a revised trail guide has been written. Care has been taken to ensure that new information was added without losing any of the old. This online version has five sections, the first section being a detailed description of the six main trails of camp. The second section lists the older, secondary names of trails while the third section deals with other trails and miscellaneous items. The fourth offers suggested hikes for the Hiking Merit Badge. The fifth part contains brief summaries of the trails to help with hike planning and for quick reference during hikes. Readers looking for a thorough history of the Reservation are encouraged to read The Yawgoog Story by J. Harold Williams and H. Cushman Anthony.

The Hiker of the Yawgoog Trails Award, mentioned in Appendix A, is available to those who hike all six major trails. To make your hike a safe one, please bring insect repellent and drinking water. It is recommended that hikers travel in small patrol-sized groups of at least four people. Please bring along a trash bag to, the words of Mr. Tracy, "Keep the trails clean as you hike so those that follow may enjoy the true beauty of this 'Adventureland of the East'" (Williams and Tracy). Finally, as Chief Williams wrote (Williams and Anthony vol. 1 p. 58):

Give a cheer when your hike leaves camp and another when you return - no matter how tired you may be.


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