The Story of the Yawgoog Trails

Unofficial

Yellow Trail - Part II

Back: Yellow Trail - Part I


Fort Hilton was initially a trading post built by George Parkhurst in 1931; $1000 given to the Scouts in the will of Samuel Hilton of California was used for materials (Williams and Tracy). The Fort was located at this spot because it was the only area in Camp Yawgoog that was relatively soot-free after the fire! The outpost functioned as a supply station for hikers and campers where each Scout was given twenty-five cents credit each week; back then, that was enough to buy food for two good meals! (Williams and Anthony vol. 1 p. 27). Scouts could buy more with their own money and borrow camping equipment. A burro named "Saxaphone," given by Ralph Pewsey, carried supplies to the Fort. The trading post was operated for about ten years, until it became a camping shelter. After being heavily damaged by vandals, it was burned down by the Yawgoog Fire Department in 1972; however, some bricks and pieces of concrete remain at the hilltop. A short path leads southwestward from Hill 407 to the Green Trail; on the left (southern) side of this trail, a few yards from the top of the hill, is a small clearing that could have been the location of Saxaphone's corral.

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Fort Hilton
(Narragansett Council p. 34)
Coordinates: N 41° 30.711', W 71° 47.305' (Datum: WGS84)

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Yawgoog staffers Ray Westcott and Saxaphone in 1932
("Composite Camper" p. 1; Yawgoog Alumni Assn. p. 37)

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Site of Fort Hilton
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 30.711', W 71° 47.305' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

Somewhere in the vegetation near the top of Hill 407 is a boulder known as Bare Rock. Old maps ("1931 Map"; Westcott) indicate that it is near a stone wall on the right (south) side of the trail/road, before the trail veers slightly right. After descending the hill, the trail heads eastward on the grassy road and soon encounters a small stone fireplace to the left (north); the fireplace may have been part of the lumber camp that existed in the area. About 165 paces from the fireplace the side-trail joins the main trail at an intersection at Cooning Orchard.

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Overgrown fireplace near Cooning Orchard
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 30.758', W 71° 47.215' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

"Cooning Orchard" is a local name passed down to the Reservation by the local residents. It is not known if an orchard was ever there, but the stone walls do suggest past habitation. It is said that a part of an old rifle was also found in the Orchard, serving as further evidence of human activity. This section is free of overgrowth because it is used as a campground (Williams and Tracy); campers should be careful to preserve the walls by not using the stones.

The Orchard is an intersection of many trails. If the hiker faces east -- toward the dirt road and away from the site of Fort Hilton -- the trails are situated as follows.

  1. Directly ahead is the Lumber Road, which is part of the main Yellow Trail and is a direct route back to camp.

  2. To the right (southeast) is a short path that connects with the Red Trail; it is also part of the AMC's Narragansett Trail and, therefore, has yellow paint marks. Travelers should be extremely careful not to confuse the Reservation's Yellow Trail with the AMC's trail (both are on Yawgoog property); the AMC's route leads away from the Reservation proper to North Road and Long and Ell ponds. (North Road is also called Hopkinton-Rockville Road, Long Bridge Road, Old Rockville Road, Rockville Road, and West Rockville Road.)

  3. Directly behind (west) is the last stretch of the Lumber Road, ending at Fort Hilton on Hill 407. This western stretch is part of a side-trail associated with the Yellow Trail.

  4. Off the road on the left (northwest) the main Yellow Trail heads back to Blueberry Swamp.

  5. Also on the left, but heading to the northeast, is another side-trail -- the Aline Buxton Trail.

By looking carefully at the markers and noting directions hikers should be able to successfully negotiate their way among the five trails that meet there. Signage is needed in Cooning Orchard, especially signs pointing the way for the AMC Narragansett Trail.

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Cooning Orchard, as seen from the Red Trail connector
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 30.763', W 71° 47.147' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

The main Yellow Trail follows the dirt Lumber Road and passes by Ghost Pond on the left, eventually meeting the other end of the Aline Buxton Trail. Chief Williams and some of his friends found the Pond after the forest fire of 1930; in The Yawgoog Story he writes:

Suddenly, through the black woods, my companions and I saw an oasis of bright green. Making our way through charred thickets, we found a little pond with marshy, verdant edges and leafy shrubbery, surrounded by glacier-smoothed ledges. At once, we named it "Ghost Pond" because it had startled us so. (Williams and Anthony vol. 1 p. 26)

It was formed when the glacier plucked a large mass of rock between two fractures, along which the water seeps out. The pond, a "vernal pool," holds some water in early spring and briefly after heavy rain. The appearing and disappearing nature of the water is also appropriate to the pond's name.

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Ghost Pond, as seen through trees off the Lumber Road
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 30.795', W 71° 47.086' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

A more scenic route than the Lumber Road is the Aline Buxton Trail. Aline Buxton was the wife of Colonel G. Edward Buxton, one of Scouting's founders, and a Scouting benefactor in her own right. Leaving Cooning Orchard and heading toward the northeast, this side-trail soon crosses a stream that drains Ghost Pond then approaches Altar Rock, the tallest of three glacial boulders; a view of Phillips Island can be seen from the top of this rock. From there, Divers' Ledge, a large rock formation on the southwestern tip of the island, can also be seen. Altar Rock sits upon an extremely long and steep ledge known as Devil's Slide; care should be taken there because the Slide is well named when it is wet or has ice. A campsite used to exist above the Slide, but it has become overgrown (Williams and Tracy). After leaving the Slide, the trail turns right (southeast) and joins the main Yellow Trail again. Non-campers should not continue any further north on the main Yellow Trail, as it leads to camp.

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Altar Rock
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 30.868', W 71° 47.101' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

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Devil's Slide
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 30.884', W 71° 47.097' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

Shortly after leaving the intersection of the main trail and Aline Buxton Trail, the main trail treads upon a long flat ledge in the road called Lucie's Carpet. Williams wrote in his history of Yawgoog that the ledge was "named by the local folk because it was said that a rather pixilated woman [from Rockville] used to make trips to the rock exposure to sweep it off" (Williams and Anthony vol. 1 p. 26).

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Lucie's Carpet
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 30.923', W 71° 46.946' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

The road soon descends about 60 feet (18 meters) and levels off near Campsite Donald C. Dewing. Mr. Dewing served as Scoutmaster of Troop 82 Providence from 1927 until his death in 1988. The campsite exists among many glacial boulders known as Giant's Chairs; in the early days of the Reservation Protestant services were conducted there (Williams and Tracy). The campsite also features an enormous ledge that slopes into the pond, which served as Yawgoog's first swimming area (Williams and Anthony vol. 1 p. 4). Campsite Donald C. Dewing was a filming location for part of a footchase sequence in the 2012 movie Moonrise Kingdom.

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Giant's Chairs in winter
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 30.989', W 71° 46.870' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

Now sharing the rest of the way with the Red Trail, the Yellow Trail crosses a spillway.

Video of the brook at Campsite Donald C. Dewing

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Rhododendron near the Yawgoog Pond dam in 2014
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.025', W 71° 46.854' (Datum: WGS84)
Google Map

The trail then passes behind the dam, built from circa 1848 to 1853 by the Rockville Manufacturing Company. The dam offers yet another great view of the pond, whose water level was raised 18 feet (5.5 meters) by the structure (Williams and Anthony vol. 1 p. 2). The dam was repaired in 2014-2015 with assistance from the Champlin Foundation; the wooden shed that contained the gate control was removed and a modern in-ground valve was installed. Water is carried from the dam in a trench known as The Portage. This trench supplied water to a mill that, according to the 1976 version of The Story of the Yawgoog Trails, used to exist in the woods on the right-hand (southern) side of the road (Williams and Tracy) -- although no evidence of a mill appears to exist there. The Chief may have been referring to S.S. Griswold's Historical Sketch of the Town of Hopkinton, which mentions a saw mill at that location (pp. 63-64); it is possible that the mill referred to is actually the mill between Yawgoog Pond and Hidden Lake (see the White Trail). The dam was a filming location for the sailing scene in Moonrise Kingdom. The Yawgoog Pond dam marks the end of the Cove Trail.

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Panoramic view of Yawgoog Pond from the dam
Image by David R. Brierley
Coordinates: N 41° 31.042', W 71° 46.822' (Datum: WGS84)
Larger image
Google Map

The trail continues eastward and passes by a beach used by the families of the Rangers and senior staff; at the water's edge is a large rock formation called Family Rock. The maps of 1941 and circa 1954 refer to the area as "Chief's Camp" because Chief Williams used to stay in a cabin that existed there (Williams and Anthony vol. 1 p. 6). At the Three Point dining hall the Yellow Trail ends while the Red Trail begins.

Note: Horses are prohibited in Camp Yawgoog. If horse riders, hoof prints or feces are observed on trails, please contact Narragansett Council. More information is available.
 

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