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Plants & Their Places: Pauchaug State Forest/Wyassup Lake

April 30, 2016 @ 9:00 am - 12:00 pm


Anemone americana (blunt-lobed hepatica), photo DMcGrady

Anemone americana (blunt-lobed hepatica), photo DMcGrady

This hike is the first of four in our series, Plants & Their Places with Doug McGrady.  The Pachaug State Forest is a massive 27,000 acres that runs along the Rhode Island border. The portion north and west of Wyassup Lake includes a series of hills, ridges and wetlands. The bedrock of quartzite produces a soil that is slightly sweeter than is typical of the rest of southeastern Connecticut (and Rhode Island).

The hike has two parts with the second part optional.
• Part one is a one-way hike of 2.7 miles lasting about 3 hours. We’ll meet on Wyassup Lake Rd, leave some cars there and carpool south to a trailhead on Ryder Rd.
• Part two is a 1.5 mile loop north of Wyassup Lake lasting 1-2 hours.
Please note the times listed for this event includes only the first part of the hike.

We’ll start by following the Narragansett Trail northward along the south ridge of Cossaduck Hill. Along this ridge we’ll pass through a hickory-hop hornbeam forest. Its sparse understory and Carex lawn give this sunny slope a pleasant feel. Heading downhill, we’ll cross Yawbucs Brook as it flows through a dark, hemlock ravine,broad and lush with ferns and mosses. After passing a beaver pond and its surrounding meadows, we’ll come to a park-like grove of sugar maples underlain with Christmas ferns, blue cohosh, and hepatica. We’ll continue northward ending up at our first parking lot on Wyassup Lake Rd. At this point, if you’ve had enough, you can get a ride back to the trailhead. Otherwise we’ll continue on to part two of the hike.

The second part is a loop starting at the parking lot on Wyassup Lake Rd, northward, to a series of steep ridges. While the ridges are dramatic, we’ll spend our time exploring the flatlands between them, where rich, fertile soil has built up and flowing streams keep it watered. Here among the sugar maple, tulip and ash trees you can find herb Robert, red elderberry, maidenhair spleenwort, blunt-lobed grapefern, cut-leaved grapefern, and more cohosh.

Note that the species mentioned are only those that stood out during winter scouting trips. Expectations are high for a beautiful display of spring wildflowers.

Doug McGrady is a long-time member of the Rhode Island Wild Plant Society, an experienced walk leader, and former board member.  A data network engineer by trade, he devotes his spare time to exploring the wilds of New England, seeking and documenting populations of rare plants.

Bring a drink and food, and wear your comfortable hiking shoes. Long pants, and long sleeves recommended. Most of our time will be on well-used trails with a couple small hills.

Botrychium oneidense (blunt-lobed grapefern), photo DMcGrady

 There is no registration for this walk. Come, learn and enjoy.

Join our mailing list Plants & Their Places with Doug McGrady so we can notified you about updates or rain cancellations to the walks in this series.

We also ask that you consider giving a donation of $5:00 to $10.00. 


From the west:
• In North Stonington, from Route 2 (Norwich-Westerly Rd), turn east onto Ryder Rd.
• Go 1.6 miles and turn left (northwest) onto Wyassup Rd.
• Go 2.1 miles and turn left (northwest) onto Wyassup Lake Rd.
• Go almost .7 miles and turn right into the boat ramp parking lot. This parking lot is on the west shore of the lake.

From the east:
• In North Stonington, from Route 49 (Pendleton Hill Rd), turn west onto Wyassup Rd.
• Go 2.7 miles and turn right (northwest) onto Wyassup Lake Rd.
• Go almost .7 miles and turn right into the boat ramp parking lot. This parking lot is on the west shore of the lake.



April 30, 2016
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
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