Lantern Hill – Narragansett Trail Southwest Terminus
Connecticut Blue Blaze Trail
Unknown acres in North Stonington, CT
Parking: Small pull off near 215 Wintechog Hill Rd, North Stonington, CT
From the trailhead off Wintechog Rd I knew this would be a good hike by the tree designated for “take a walking stick / leave a walking stick”. This is a popular section of trail as most overlooks close to roads are.
The trail ascends in a wet gully for about a half mile heading up to the ridgeline. There are other trails here but the Narragasett Trail takes the best route to the ledges the comprise the overlook. No single point is the view. The earliest views will be west towards Foxwoods, which is a demanding presence in what would otherwise have few signs of civilization.
Crossing through scrubby pines to the other side has a view east of the next ridge. The trail then steeply descends off the hill between cuts in the rock. The trail forks with the left option continuing the Narrangasett Trail and the right option heading to the former quarry now inactive and owned by the Mashantucket Pequots. There is a second more expansive overlook here where the quarry is a bit of scar on the land. It would have been great to have seen it before (though apparently, that began in 1870).
Continuing on the blue blaze trail dumps you into the North Stonington Transfer Station. Sparse markings make this bit difficult to follow, but the trail continues left and up the transfer station’s driveway to cross Wintechog Rd.
From here it is a couple hundred feet of road walk to where the trail resumes on the other side. The trail appears to have been recently rerouted to the edge of a clearcut. After passing through a screen of mountain laurel on the far side you should be able to spot old blazes. The trail then heads off amidst the trees until reaching a stone wall and another clear cut field. There is one last blaze as you turn into the field and from there you are sandwiched between an electric fence (I found out the hard way) and the stonewall. A narrow footpath is tough to follow through overgrown thorny brush. It seems more game path than footpath, but if you persist for over a half mile you reach the opposite side and reenter the woods.
The trail then appears to descend downhill through the forest and is easy enough to follow, or so you think. After following that clear path, sans blazes, I ended up under some old power lines only to retrace my steps to where I went wrong. The trail actually turns hard right in the woods near the stonewall, but a tree has fallen right on the path and I don’t think anyone has taken the trail in a long time. So while I highly recommend the Narrangansett and trails around Lantern Hill, I highly discourage the section east of Wintechog Rd.
From an 1895 history of New London,
Near the eastern boundary of the township, toward the present town of North Stonington, is an elevation that from the earliest settlement has been called Lantern Hill. The name is said to be derived from a large naked rock not far from the summit, which, seen from a distance, in a certain position, or at a certain hour of the day, shines like a light. The Indians had probably named it from this peculiarity, and the English adopted the idea.
I would highly recommend a reading of The Story of the Yawgoog Trails as there are some great tidbits of history there like prophet who worshiped the sun there, the man who had dynamite explode in his pocket, and the history of mining in the area.
Caulkins, Frances Manwaring (1895). History of New London, Connecticut: From the First Survey of the Coast in 1612, to 1860. New London: Utley. p. 97.
David R. Brierley – The Story of the Yawgoog Trails
Peter Marteka – A View to the Sea and History