The Story of the Yawgoog Trails

Unofficial

Tippecansett Trail, Yawgoog to Beach Pond and Back

Total distance: 10.4 miles (16.8 kilometers)
Total hiking time: approximately 4 to 6 hours


One way to use the yellow-blazed Tippecansett Trail would be to hike the trail from its terminus at the state border at Camp Yawgoog Road through Beach Pond and return the same way. If this option is chosen, please see the description for the Tippecansett Trail ("Tippecansett South") to Beach Pond.



Totally Tippecansett: The Full Tippecansett Trail

Total distance: 10.4 miles (16.8 kilometers)
Total hiking time: approximately 4 to 6 hours

IMPORTANT NOTE: The portion of the trail on the property of the South County Rod & Gun Club is closed at least temporarily; the Club is considering expansion of its firing range.

The full Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) Tippecansett Trail runs from Stepstone Falls in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, to the state border on Camp Yawgoog Road; the trail appears to have been completed around 1941 (Leonard, "Sunday, March 9"). The portion from the Falls to Beach pond is often referred to as "Tippecansett North" and the portion from Beach Pond to Yawgoog as "Tippecansett South." "Tippecansett" is a Narragansett term meaning "at the great clearing" (Huden p. 251).

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 north of Route 138 during hunting season. The Rhode Island hunting season starts on the second Saturday in September and runs through the end of February. Orange is also required in Rhode Island from the third Saturday in April through May 31. In Connecticut, the hunting season starts on September 1 and runs through the end of February. Hunting is prohibited in Camp Yawgoog.

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 right onto Route 165 (Ten Rod Road) and head east 4.25 miles (6.8 kilometers), passing Beach Pond at the state border, and turn left onto Escoheag Hill Road. After travelling north about 2.4 miles (3.9 kilometers), turn right (northeast) onto Falls River Road, a dirt road. The Stepstone Falls parking area is about 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) away at a small concrete bridge. The portion of Falls River Road leading from Escoheag Hill Road may be closed in winter or after very heavy rain.

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 (Nooseneck Hill Road). Travel south for 1.25 miles (2 kilometers) and turn right onto Route 165 (Ten Rod Road). Proceed west for 5.3 miles (8.5 kilometers) and turn right onto Escoheag Road. After travelling north about 2.4 miles (3.9 kilometers), turn right (northeast) onto Falls River Road, a dirt road. The Stepstone Falls parking area is about 0.6 mile (1 kilometer) away at a small concrete bridge. The portion of Falls River Road leading from Escoheag Hill Road may be closed in winter or after very heavy rain.

Note: The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) requires handlers to keep horses away from water bodies. Under Park and Management Area Rules and Regulations, Section 17, "Miscellaneous Regulations," Regulation 17.3 (p. 19) states, "Horses, bicycles or motorcycles are prohibited in streams, rivers or bodies of water except at designated crossings (trails and roads.)" Horse feces may contain the parasites giardia and cryptosporidium; infected horses may not display symptoms (Lloyd pp. 508-509). Please report violations to the RIDEM Division of Law Enforcement.

The AMC Tippecansett Trail starts at beautiful Stepstone Falls (sometimes referred to as Steppingstone Falls or Stepping Stone Falls) on the Falls River. Rectangular stone slabs can be seen here, indicating that the site was a former quarry; the natural horizontal and vertical fractures in the rock made quarrying easier (Quinn, p. 48). The falls area was a filming location for the 2012 movie Moonrise Kingdom.

(image)
Stepstone Falls
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 36.736', W 71° 45.611' (Datum: WGS84)

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Close-up of one of the cascades
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 36.736', W 71° 45.611' (Datum: WGS84)

Video of Stepstone Falls by David R. Brierley

(image)
Quarried stone slabs
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 36.736', W 71° 45.611' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

The yellow blazes of the Tippecansett and Ben Utter Trails leave the parking area and share this first stretch with the blue blazes of a bypass of the North South Trail, called the Washout Trail. The white blazes of the River Trail are found on the other side of the concrete bridge. The bypass is multi-use, while the River Trail is for hikers only, due to its proximity to the river. Hikers should also beware of unmarked paths that exist in the Stepstone Falls area.

The yellow and blue blazes cross an intermittent stream and soon reach a pavilion. The structure was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp Escoheag, which existed where the Legrand G. Reynolds Horsemen's Area is today on Escoheag Hill Road. Due to vandalism and neglect, much of the pavilion was removed in 2015; reconstruction of the pavilion was completed in 2017 by volunteers from the Appalachian Mountain Club. Camping in the pavilion is prohibited.

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Pavilion near Stepstone Falls
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 36.517', W 71° 45.580' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

(photograph)
1939 aerial view of Civilian Conservation Corps Camp
Escoheag, where the Legrand G. Reynolds Horsemen's
Area is today on Escoheag Hill Road (RIDPW 1313)

At the pavilion, the yellow trails diverge. The Ben Utter Trail leads left (southeast), behind the shelter, to descend to the river. The Tippecansett and blue-blazed Washout Trail turn right (southwest) rising to the paved Wickaboxet Road at an old pump house. The Washout Trail heads left (southeast) on the road, while the yellow-blazed Tippecansett Trail heads right (northwest). The trail reaches the end of the Wickaboxet Road loop and climbs Escoheag Hill on a footpath. "Escoheag" may have been derived from a Quinebaug expression meaning "fork of the river" or "source of the river" (Huden p. 66).

The footpath soon reaches Falls River Road (dirt) and turns left (southwest) to follow the road, climbing to the paved Escoheag Hill Road. The trail turns right (west), passes a parking area to the right (north), and follows the road to the summit of Escoheag Hill, where it meets a terminus of the Canonicus Trail. To the right (north) is a cemetery, called the Hazard Lot (Rhode Island Historical Cemetery: West Greenwich 5); inscriptions in the cemetery date back to 1815.

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Hazard Lot
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 36.470', W 71° 46.413' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

To the left (south) and beyond a gate, are the remnants of the Escoheag Fire Tower, which stood at 80 feet (24 meters) tall; aircraft are now used to monitor fires. Do not attempt to climb the tower as it is not maintained; the top of the tower, called a "cab," was burned away by vandals (Aron).

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Escoheag Fire Tower
The tower's cab has since been burned away by vandals.
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 36.432', W 71° 46.385' (Datum: WGS84)

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Faded Sign: Escoheag Fire Tower
Elevation 645 ft [197 meters]
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 36.432', W 71° 46.385' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

The trail used to reenter the forest at the tower, but by 2009 an unannounced relocation was made -- lengthening the trail by 1.2 miles (1.9 kilometers). The yellow-blazed Tippecansett Trail now overlaps a portion of the white-blazed Canonicus Trail. Look for both blazes on utility poles while descending west on Escoheag Hill Road. The route reaches the posted private property of the South County Rod & Gun Club at the corner of Escoheag Hill Road and Hazard Road. This corner is known as "Molasses Corner" (Town of West Greenwich) because a molasses factory used to be in the area around the nineteenth century; the southern portion of Hazard Road was known as "Molasses Hill Road" (RIHPC, p. 15).

The Tippecansett and Canonicus trails leave the paved road to cross a gate and follow a dirt road west. Be sure to stay on the road, as it is property of the South County Rod & Gun Club; private residences exist to the right (north). The former town road was known as "Cambells Mills Trail" and "Hope Valley-Escoheag Road" (Town of West Greenwich). The road eventually reenters the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area.

At a three-way intersection of dirt roads, the trail enters the Pachaug State Forest in Connecticut. A few feet left (south) of the intersection is a small triangular stone with traces of yellow paint at the top; it marks the state boundary.

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State boundary marker
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 36.449', W 71° 47.333' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

After bearing left (west) at the intersection, the road bends left (southwest) and two other roads/trails enter from the right (north). What was known as the "Bly Cemetery" used to exist somewhere in the area of the bend (Hale pp. 37, 58); but the cemetery appears to have been moved and most of the headstones are now in the Congdon-Hoxsie Cemetery in Exeter, Rhode Island, which will be seen shortly.

The white and yellow trail markers, as well as the red arrows of the enduro trail for motorbikes, follow Bitgood Road southwest; the road ends at another three-way intersection. It is here that the Tippecansett Trail parts company with the other trails. The white blazes of the Canonicus Trail and the red arrows of the enduro trail lead right (west) on the dirt Tippecansett Road. The yellow blazes of the Tippecansett Trail lead left (east) on Tippecansett Road. A large foundation exists in the woods just a few yards southwest of the intersection; other foundations exist in the area.

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Stone foundation at Tippecansett and Bitgood roads
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.879', W 71° 47.711' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

From the intersection the Tippecansett Trail/Road heads east then southeast and reaches the Rhode Island/Connecticut border on the West Greenwich/Exeter line; in Rhode Island the road is known as Old Voluntown Road. The land to the left (northeast) of the road is posted private property of the South County Rod & Gun Club while land to the right (southwest) of the road is part of the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area. Glimpses of Tippecansett Pond will be seen through the trees; the pond is owned by the Club -- swimming is prohibited and fishing is only allowed for club members. While this area seems remote and natural, ideas for development are never far away; a Providence Journal ("Professor's Proposal") article notes that, in the early 1990s, Professor William B. Sweeney of Bryant University proposed an international airport for the Tippecansett area.

The trail bends to the right (south) and soon meets the white-blazed Wildcat Spring Trail. This side path leads right (southwest) and is a 0.2-mile (0.3-kilometer) journey among cairns that descends to a spring that gurgles beneath the rocks; the water is unsafe for drinking. This excursion takes about 8 minutes, round-trip.

The yellow-blazed Tippecansett Trail leaves the Wildcat Spring Trail behind and follows Old Voluntown Road south. The road passes a dead-end dirt road on the left (east) and then climbs to the Congdon-Hoxsie Cemetery (Rhode Island Historical Cemetery: EX001), also on the left; inscriptions go back to 1849. The inscriptions at this cemetery match the transcriptions recorded by Charles R. Hale in 1933 for what he referred to as the "Bly Cemetery" (mentioned earlier) in Voluntown, Connecticut (pp. 37, 58); however, the headstones of Polly and Benjamin Bly are not present. Perhaps the remains and/or stones were relocated here from Voluntown after the early 1930s.

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Congdon-Hoxsie Cemetery
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.240', W 71° 46.958' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

The road/trail passes two more dirt roads to the left and then reaches a three-way intersection. To the left, Old Voluntown Road and the white-blazes AMC Deep Pond Trail (north branch) bend to the east. The yellow markings of the Tippecansett Trail veer right (southwest) on an old road and cross a gate.

The trail soon meets an intersection with the northern Pachaug-Tippecansett Crossover (0.5 mile / 0.7 kilometer). If hiking the entire Tippecansett Trail back and forth as a 20-mile hike, the Crossover may be a more scenic way to vary the route. The Crossover, marked in blue triangles, leads right (west) and meets a stone foundation on the right (north). The Crossover ends at the Connecticut Forest and Park Association (CFPA) Pachaug Trail, near another foundation (with what appears to be a chimney hole). The blue-blazed Pachaug Trail leads left (southeast) to the edge of Beach Pond and then rejoins the Tippecansett Trail. From the intersection near the foundation, the Pachaug Trail also leads right (west) to the northern side of Beach Pond in Connecticut.

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Stone foundation on the Crossover Trail, near the Tippecansett Trail juncture
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.050', W 71° 47.153' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

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Stone foundation on the Crossover Trail, at the Pachaug Trail juncture
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 35.044', W 71° 47.204' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

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Panoramic view of Beach Pond from its eastern side, on the Pachaug Trail
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 34.705', W 71° 47.124' (Datum: WGS84)
Larger image
Google Map

If the Crossover is not used, the yellow-blazed Tippecansett Trail proceeds left (south). Hikers should be aware of unmarked trails and dirt roads that can be found in the Beach Pond area. The Tippecansett Trail reaches a five-way intersection to meet the CFPA Pachaug Trail. A dirt road leads left (east) and right (southwest), the blue-blazed Pachaug Trail diverges to the immediate right (north). The Tippecansett and Pachaug trails combine to cross the road and proceed south. The trails reach the former swimming area at Beach Pond on Ten Rod Road (Route 165). The blue markings of the Pachaug Trail follow Route 165, called Beach Pond Road in Connecticut, right (west), to eventually end at Green Fall Pond (see the description for The Beachgoer, in reverse direction). The yellow markings of the Tippecansett Trail cross Ten Rod Road and head south to Camp Yawgoog. For the rest of the route to camp, please see the Yawgoog-Beach Pond portion of the Tippecansett Trail description (in reverse direction).
 

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