New Coventry Trail honors the memory of a deceased educator
- Getting there: Take Route 117 West through central Coventry and turn left onto Stone Gate Drive. Turn right and continue to the end of Bramblebush Road at a kiosk.
- Parking: Available for multiple cars at the trailhead.
- Dogs: admitted but kept on a leash.
- Difficulty: The blue-blaze trail is easy. The yellow and white trails are moderate to difficult.
COVENTRY – The opening of a new trail is cause for celebration for the volunteers who built it, the donors and officials who have preserved the land, and the hikers who are enjoying another walk in the woods.
Last month, the Coventry Land Trust opened a new short trail that crosses a heavily forested hill and connects to an existing network of trails in the Beaudoin Conservation Area.
The path winds through old farmland, crosses Quidnick Creek, and passes giant boulders left over from the Ice Age. There is also quite a bit of history. A side trail leads to a former mill site after crossing a cycle path built on an elevated railway bed.
I missed the trail dedication, which drew 50 supporters to the new 95 acres Janice L. Sullivan Conservation Area, named after a teacher and principal of a public school in Coventry died in 2017 after nine years of fighting cancer. His brother, Fred Schick, donated the property in his memory.
Earlier this month, however, I explored the new reserve on a clear, warm early fall morning. I enjoyed the hike.
Plans to convert an open field into a garden and meadow of native plants
I started off on my own from the trailhead in the Bramblebush neighborhood on a wide chipped wood and blazing blue path that went up a long incline. A hut just off the trail near the top of the hill is long gone. There are also a few sparsely forested fields that may have been pastures for farmers in the past.
The trail travels about a quarter of a mile before passing the site of an unfinished homestead that was removed after the property was acquired. The land trust plans to develop the open field into a native plant garden and meadow. The path leads to Ledge Road, where an information booth marks the entrance to the 175-acre Beaudoin area, named after a previous owner, and continues like the blue trail.
The trail descends slightly and passes under a quiet forest of oaks, pines and beeches and near large outcrops and rocks. Right next to the road are several vertical percolation test pipes installed when the land was to be developed into a housing development.
As I walked without seeing another soul and lost myself in thought, I enjoyed the solitude but was surprised to hear a loud crackle. I looked up and realized the sound was coming from a tall tree branch, swaying in the wind, rubbing against the trunk of an oak tree.
The blue light trail leads to an intersection, where I turned left onto the yellow light trail and went down a gentle incline. I noticed small boards placed on rocks in the middle of the path that may have been placed there to warn hikers about bumps, or possibly as jumps for cyclists.
After about a half mile I passed several double wide stone walls that ran near a white blaze trail that opened to the right. They were once part of Cyrus Comstock’s farm, where he lived with his wife, Elizabeth, in the 1800s and raised cattle.
In 1853, Comstock, a colonel in the Kent County Brigade, sold three acres of his land for an easement, which cut off his property, to the Hartford, Providence and Fishkill Railroad to run tracks west into Connecticut. The line was built in 1856 and part of it was abandoned in 1968.
An unmarked path leads to the remains of the Comstock farm
I walked south to the end of the yellow trail at the platform now called Coventry Greenway, Washington Secondary Bike Path, or Trestle Trail. Several cyclists and dog walkers rode the paved path.
On the other side of the trail, after an opening in a wooden fence, is an unmarked path that descends an embankment into the other part of the Comstock property, which the Land Trust has preserved as part of the area Neylon Conservation Area of 81 acres. I crossed a tree branch bridge over fast flowing Quidnick Creek, a trout stream that flows between Quidnick Reservoir and Coventry Center Pond.
I also found a long earthen dam on the creek that once held back a pond where Comstock may have watered his cattle. A channel, now overgrown, was dug from the creek to near a large 6 foot stone foundation that could have been a barn or a mill. After circling the remains, I retraced my steps through the bike path and along the yellow-blaze trail to the white-blaze trail. This time I took him west.
Rock jump on a winding path
The narrow trail became rocky and winding up and down before jumping into a muddy section and feeding tributary to Quidnick Creek. Mushrooms of all kinds grew along the wet path.
After the stream, the trail climbs through some felled trees. Watch out for the white flames so you don’t lose the trail as it climbs small hills and through a field of boulders. The path continues for approximately three-quarters of a mile before reaching an old motorable road at the west end of the property.
If you turn left you will return to the bike path. I turned right, however, and walked between fields on the left and woods on the right. The path continues to a parking lot at Williams Crossing Road, but didn’t go that far and turned east on a blazing, rugged yellow trail. There was a swampy area to the south and numerous glacial boulders to the north.
The trail went through a rift in a stone wall and an area that may have been cultivated years ago. The path then widens and crosses the blue path.
I turned left and followed it through Ledge Road back to where I started.
In all, I did about 4.5 miles in two hours.
As I was leaving, I met a local resident who was walking his dog and told me he was happy the area had been saved from being turned into a housing estate. He also noted that he saw all types of hikers, young and old, hitting the easy, moderate, and more difficult trails.
Make your choice. Wherever you go, remember the Rhode Islanders who continue to work to preserve some of the state’s most interesting parts.
Trail tip: how to read traffic lights
Many public paths are marked with rectangular flames painted on the trees. Because public reserves often have many trails, each path is marked in a different color.
The flames are placed just above eye level so that the hiker, while walking, can look up and take the trail.
There is no universal standard for marked trails, but the photo in this key shows the most common markings.
If you are going to …
Access: Take Route 117 West through central Coventry and turn left onto Stone Gate Drive. Turn right and continue to the end of Bramblebush Road at a kiosk.
Car park: Available for multiple cars at the trailhead.
Dogs: Authorized, but must be kept on a leash.
Difficulty: The blue-blaze trail is easy. The yellow and white trails are moderate to difficult.
John Kostrzewa, former associate / business editor at Providence Journal, welcomes emails to email@example.com.