The Story of the Yawgoog Trails

Unofficial

White Trail

Total distance: 1.80 miles (2.90 kilometers)
Total hiking time: approximately 1 hour


Note: The private picnic tables at Hidden Lake are for the use of the Scouting community. Hidden Lake is not a public picnic or camping area.

The White Trail begins at the Medicine Bow Amphitheatre, located off the northern end of the dining hall. The trail leads northward among campsites, including Minnikesu, home of the Counselor-In-Training Corps, and Baden Powell, home for provisional Scouts camping for extra weeks without their troops; Baden Powell was previously located where Campsite Neil Armstrong is now. The White Trail crosses a stone wall onto a plateau in Camp Sandy Beach; the waterfront and amphitheatre are to the left (west), and the Campcraft Center/New Frontier Program is to the right (east).

The plateau was the place where Chief Williams and "Gus" Anthony had a dangerous encounter with the great forest fire, as described in the 1976 edition of The Story of the Yawgoog Trails:

Chief Williams and Gus Anthony stood on this plateau on Sunday afternoon, May 3, 1930 amidst the blinding smoke and falling embers and heard the roar of the great forest fire that came sweeping down from the Beach Pond area six miles [10 kilometers] away. "The fire roared like an express train as the giant white pines exploded into flames like torches." Chief and Gus ran for their lives back down the trail toward Rathom Lodge (Williams and Tracy).

After passing by Campsite Neil Armstrong (named after the Eagle Scout and astronaut), the trail turns left (west) at an intersection in front of Campsite John Glenn (another Eagle Scout and astronaut, and a US Senator, too), then immediately turns right (northwest) again. The path soon passes by a concrete casing to the right (northeast); this casing, built by Paul W. Slade, houses a former spring. Hikers should not throw litter into the casing and should remove litter from it, instead.

After leaving the casing the trail gradually turns west until it crosses a paved road -- Anthony Road. To the left (south) the road passes by the former campsites of Bill Cody and Paul Siple, closed after the summer of 1998 to protect the water quality in Yawgoog Pond. (Paul Siple was an Eagle Scout who later became an Antarctic explorer and invented the "wind chill factor," now called the "wind chill index.") The road then leads to cabins on Rocky Point that house the senior staff; Rocky Point is a restricted area. To the right (north) the road connects to Camp Yawgoog Road. The road, like the Stockade, is named after H. Cushman "Gus" Anthony, who lived in one cabin when he was on staff. In the 1976 edition of The Story it is written, "Gus's famous Model 'T' Ford could be heard over at the main camp as it puffed its way along Anthony Road in the morning and its headlights could be seen through the trees on the journey home at night" (Williams and Tracy). Anthony Road is used year-round; parking is prohibited.

(image)
View of swim carnivals from former Campsite Paul Siple
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.430', W 71° 46.991' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

The hill that exists at the intersection of the trail and road is known as Desolation Hill, because it was the area in Yawgoog most severely damaged by the great fire. Approximately 12,000 white pine seedlings were planted here as part of a reforestation project in the spring of 1931.

The trail crosses the road and enters a grove of pine trees. The Old Sandy Beach Amphitheatre used to exists here, to the left (south); the old amphitheatre has been replaced by the newer one (previously called the Baden-Powell Amphitheatre) near the waterfront building.

The trail leads westward across an intermittent stream and then up a rock ledge. Shortly after that, on the left (south), hikers can descend into a small cave about 15 feet (4.5 meters) long; the cave is a lean-to formed by a large boulder resting against the ledge. This "Lean-To Cave" should not be confused with Indian Cave, described below.

(image)
Lean-To Cave
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.460', W 71° 47.092' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

The White Trail then passes by a side-trail that connects to the Atlas campsite, located in a grove of pine trees to the right (north). The main White Trail heads west and soon comes upon a four-way intersection. A second connector to the Atlas campsite leads right (north). The main trail climbs up a ledge directly ahead (west) to Smuggler's Cliffs. An unmarked path leads left (southwest) down to the swampy base of the cliffs and Indian Cave. (The author thanks Jim Moore for clarifying the location of Indian Cave!)

In the 1920's, two Scouts interested in Indian lore came upon Indian Cave while searching the area for old winter campsites used by local Native Americans. They began to dig and found some arrowheads and shells. Chief Williams inspected the cave and was convinced that it was a Native American site; in The Yawgoog Story Williams described the cave as "a hollow of what we now call Smugglers' Cliffs" (Williams and Anthony vol. 1 p. 1). The cave reminded him of the legend he wrote, The Testing of Wincheck, for the Wincheck Indians -- Yawgoog's junior honor society before the days of the Order of the Arrow (Williams and Tracy). The Wincheck Indians, founded in 1922, became the Wincheck Lodge in 1958, under the direction of Norman Wood, who had been National Secretary of the Order of the Arrow; the Ordeal mentioned in Williams's legend is still used.

(image)
Indian Cave
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.471', W 71° 47.177' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

Back at the four-way intersection, the main trail climbs a ledge immediately arrives at the well-known Smugglers' Cliffs. These cliffs, towering well above the trees growing below, were created when glaciers carved out the surrounding rock some 30,000 years ago. After following the cliffs the trail descends, to arrive at an intersection of paths. A short unmarked trail leads to the right (north) to Camp Yawgoog Road; the unmarked path to the left (south) heads to the base of the cliffs, Indian Cave and the swamp. The White Trail crosses a stream and heads west.

After crossing the stream, the trail continues westward until it splits at a fork. The left (west) path is a side-trail that turns south and parallels Pickerel Cove, often passing over ledges that slope into the water; this side-trail offers several good fishing spots on a peninsula. The tip of the peninsula offers an excellent view! The cove that exists between this peninsula and Rocky Point used to be known as "Drysdale Cove." In the nineteenth century, according to deed records, Francis Drysdale owned part of the land that is now Yawgoog.

(image)
Panoramic view of Drysdale and Pickerel coves
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.342', W 71° 47.330' (Datum: WGS84)
Larger image

(image)
Northern tip of Submarine Island
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.342', W 71° 47.330' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

From the fork, the main trail (the right-hand branch of the fork) heads north and emerges onto Camp Yawgoog Road at the site of an old mill; the foundation is still clearly visible. The 1976 version of The Story of the Yawgoog Trails describes it as a mill that prepared cloth (a "fulling mill" [Williams and Tracy]). "Gus" Anthony believed it more likely that it was a saw mill (Anthony, letter, 13 Mar. 1991); an 1870 map labels it a saw mill ("Hopkinton, Washington County"). The mill got its power from Hidden Lake and its dam, which are on the opposite side of the road in the forest.

(image)
Mill site
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.550', W 71° 47.323' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

Continuing westward on the road for a few paces, the trail comes upon an intersection. To the left (south) the Yellow Trail begins, while Camp Yawgoog Road leads ahead (west) to the Connecticut border and the Blue Trail. The White Trail turns to the right (north) along an old road. The road is usually roped off to prevent vehicles from entering; however, hikers are free to continue toward Hidden Lake.

(image)
Indian pipes (Monotropa uniflora), which are wildflowers,
not fungi, near Hidden Lake
Image by David R. Brierley

Following the northern road, the White Trail comes upon Hidden Lake. Its name was the result of the fact that the pond's existence was not known until after the great forest fire of 1930. The pond was purchased as part of the Curtis Tract in 1935; back then, the pond only contained significant amounts of water during spring, since the stone dam leaked into the stream that used to feed the mill. Repairs were attempted by Slade's Gang (mentioned in the description of the Yellow Trail) just after the Tract was bought, but without success. In 1964 a layer of clay was dumped along the inside of the dam and it succeeded perfectly, adding twelve acres of water to the property.

The repair worked so perfectly that it became necessary to discourage Scouts from swimming there without supervision. A "No Swimming" sign was posted, but it did not work. Although the water is not polluted in the usual sense, it has a brown color from tannin from oak leaves; this gave someone the idea to dismantle the water pump and post new signs saying, "No Swimming - Water Polluted." After some false rumors about diseases, including typhoid fever, the Reservation took the signs down quickly (Williams and Anthony vol. 2 p. 29). Although the water is not polluted, it is not suitable for drinking. Swimming, wading and boating are prohibited there.

(image)
Hidden Lake in autumn
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.615', W 71° 47.329' (Datum: WGS84)

(image)
Hidden Lake in winter
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.615', W 71° 47.329' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

Video of the spillway at the Hidden Lake dam, by David R. Brierley

At the dam the trail splits into two branches, forming a loop around the pond. The branch on the left (north) is a side-trail that runs along the western shore of Hidden Lake. The other branch (east) is the main trail and it parallels the eastern shore of the pond. It passes through a scenic campsite area on a point of land that juts in a northwestern direction; this site is one of the Reservation's most beautiful places. Both routes meet each other again on the northern shore and each takes about the same amount of hiking time.

(image)
Autumn view from the southern shore of Hidden Lake
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.621', W 71° 47.625' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

(image)
Panoramic view of Hidden Lake from the campsite
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.657', W 71° 47.256' (Datum: WGS84)
Larger image
Google Map

(image)
Autumn view from the campsite
Image by David R. Brierley

(image)
Another autumn view from the campsite
Image by David R. Brierley

Continuing from the northern shore, where the side and main trails unite again, the White Trail heads north -- away from Hidden Lake. A short overgrown side-trail will be encountered on the right (east), crossing a stream and ending at a campfire site. This site was used as a ceremonial ground for leadership training programs.

The main trail soon crosses a stream. The stream, which also crosses the Blue Trail, was believed to have been a man-made trench that carried water from Grassy Pond to Hidden Lake to supply the mill mentioned earlier. This belief may have stemmed from S.S. Griswold's Historical Sketch of the Town of Hopkinton, which mentions such a "conduit" (p. 64); however, a 1921 reprint of an 1893 topographic map from the US Geological Survey clearly shows a "canal" diverting water from the stream that drains Grassy Pond to the eastern end of Wincheck Pond.

(map)
Map showing a canal connecting
Grassy Pond to Wincheck Pond

After climbing a gentle slope the White Trail arrives at a juncture with the Blue/Freeman Trail. The White Trail turns right (east) into an open patch of forest, called Sherwood Forest. This area is a former archery range named after the territory of the legendary archer Robin Hood. The Sherwood Forest Shelter is also there; near it is a path to the site of the former Fuller Cabin (mentioned later in the discussion of the Galkin Trail).

(image)
Sherwood Forest and Shelter
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.550', W 71° 47.323' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

The White Trail heads southeast across Sherwood Forest. Now a dirt road, the trail passes by the upper campsites of Camp Sandy Beach. After joining with the road (Galkin Trail) that leads to Anthony Acres, the trail ends at the Sandy Beach dining hall, which is also part of the Orange Trail.

The only 2 portions of the White Trail open to non-campers are the Hidden Lake loop and the side trail to Pickerel and Drysdale coves.
 

Trail-related Links

 

Facebook    Twitter    Instagram    YouTube    Pinterest