Walkabout Trail: Wander through the bush
By guest bloggers the Rice family
The remnants of T.S. Andrea quickly passed through Rhode Island last Saturday leaving the afternoon much nicer than we first expected. So we headed out to the George Washington Camping Area off Rt. 44 in Chepachet, our favorite place to go hiking & camping.
*If you go just to hike the trail or fish, you’ll have to pay a $2 per car fee.*
Set beside Bowdish Lake, the campground is part of the 4000 acre George Washington Management Area that features 45 car campsites, 2 Adirondack style shelters, 5 backpack (hike to) platform sites and the Walkabout Trail.
The Walkabout trail was cut in 1965 by 300 Australian crew members of the H.M.A.S. “Perth” while they waited for the delivery of three U.S. built destroyers. The trail is very well blazed and consists of a main 8 mile loop (Orange) with connecting trails breaking it up into a 2 mile (Blue) or 6 mile (Red) loops. The North South Trail also runs through this area.
We set out to hike the 2 mile blue loop and started from the trail head located at the beach. Here there is a large carved sign mapping out the trail, there are also paper maps for hikers with the complete ‘Walkabout Trail’ story on the reverse side.
We followed the trail along side of the Bowdish Lake for a half mile. Here the trail offers a few nice fishing & picnic spots. Because of the recent heavy rain, the lakes water level was higher than we’ve ever seen. Water runoff from the campground sent a steady stream running down the trail. We did a lot of rock hopping in the beginning, but once the trail began to turn away from the lake it dried out fast.
The trail soon passes by one of the shelter campsites, here is where the Orange(8) & Red(6) mile loops break away to the left from the Blue(2) mile loop that returns you to the campground. Continue on the Orange & Red and they will take you to Wilbur Pond –another nice picnic spot– and pass through Rhododendron bush’s. Around this area the Red(6) mile connector breaks away from the Orange(8) looping you back towards the campground. Continue on the Orange(8) and you’ll soon be headed towards a Hemlock grove and into neighboring Pulaski Memorial State Park, through a wildlife marsh and again reconnect with the Red blaze and into an area of White Cedars.
Here the trail can become very wet and muddy as it passes through a lush marsh area we’ve dubbed ‘Fairy Land‘. The trail section through Fairy Land is embedded with small logs –mostly rotted– making it a bit easier to keep your feet dry, but one wrong step could engulf your shoe! Once you’ve navigated your way through this marsh, the trail will head up a steep hill where at the top the Orange & Red reconnect again with the Blue blaze.
Once your back on the Orange, Red & Blue blaze again, it won’t be long before you re-enter the camping area close to where the trail began, but not without one last water crossing. There should have been a sign here “Bridge is out” since it only spanned about halfway!
Wildlife we spotted included a frog, baby geese and a Turtle!
If your going to hike the full 8 miles allow yourself at least 4 hours of time, bring plenty of water, snacks and camera. Also be sure to watch for ticks they are out right now!