Stewart Hill Preserve, Narragansett trails now connected

North Stonington — The Stewart Hill Preserve Trail, opened last summer, has been approved to connect with the state's Narragansett Trail, the Conservation Commission announced this month.

Cutting the short two-tenths of a mile spur was much easier than officials originally thought, Conservation Commission Chairman William Ricker said. Having mapped the closed connection between the trails by GPS, Ricker and a Voluntown forest ranger discovered a 150-year-old wagon trail that cut between the trails, and directly followed its path. 

"There were deep ruts because the wagons had cut through the soil ... it was well pronounced," Ricker said.

Conservation Commission members Arnold Vlieks and Michael Charnetski both assisted in cutting the trail.

The commission, which has been working since the beginning of the summer to connect the 2-mile loop off Wyassup Road, said the connection will give a greater number of people access to the parcel, which was given to the town following the dissolution of Arbor Acres development plans.

The spur is another step toward creating greenways in the east, west and central corridors in town for wildlife and hikers.

"It borders Pachaug State Forest and North Stonington Citizen Land Alliance property so it makes for a beautiful, beautiful wildlife area for animals," Ricker said.

So far on the property, he has counted beaver, red squirrel, barred owl, red shouldered and red-tailed hawk and signs of deer and turkeys.

The land also features red and white oak, black birch and shag-bark hickory, several different kinds of ferns and sedges, grass-like plants.

The Narragansett Trail goes from Wintechog Hill Road in town up by Wyassup Lake and through to Voluntown and Pachaug State Forest.

The Stewart Hill Preserve Trail is accessible to both hikers and horseback riders, who may park in a small gravel parking lot on the side of the road. None of the trails is open to dogs or motorbikes.

Ricker describes it as easy to moderate, gently sloping down toward Yawbucs Brook, with a few small outcroppings.

"It is North Stonington, after all," Ricker said.

n.lynch@theday.com

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