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Description

Legend Wood / Wyassup Lake

Connecticut State Forest / Blue Blaze Trail

in North Stonington, CT

Parking:

Trail Map          Trails: 4.1 miles            Rating: ★★★☆☆


Combined entry here for both this section of the Narragansett Trail through the Legend Wood section of Pachaug State Forest and for the state owned boat launch for Wyassup Lake.  This area offers a great mix of rolling trail leading to a high ledge overlook, a backpacking shelter, Bear Cave, and a few old cellar holes.

Hiking

The main trail through this area is a four mile section of the blue blaze Narragansett Trail.  From the parking area at the Wyassup Boat Launch there is a blue/white connector trail across the road which leads up to the trail.  This section used to be a brief road walk but a reroute in late 2019 allows it to remain in the woods.

At 0.5 miles you’ll cross the first old woods road heading directly across to cross a small stream and some hilly terrain to the base of the ledges.  The trail steeply ascends a notch in the ledges.  The trail continues right at the top of the climb, but a small sign points left for the lean-to backpacking Legend Wood Shelter.  The shelter is a few hundred northwest along the saddle of the ridge.  It was rebuilt in October 2005 by Eagle Scout Steven Hedler.

  • Lean-to is free to use by filling out this application and mailing to:
    • DEEP Eastern District Headquarters
      209 Hebron Road,
      Marlborough, CT 06477
  • Or emailing to stacey.mclaughlin@ct.gov

Continuing on the Narragansett Trail quickly leads to the rocky High Ledge Overlook with views south over Wyassup Lake.  The trail head down off the ledge passing impressive cliffs and winding between old rock walls until reaching the gravel Legend Wood Rd about 1.5 miles later.

The road is used by ATVs, dirtbikes, and likely snowmobiles as part of some kind of enduro loop.  Leaving Legend Wood Rd the trail soon reaches Bullet Ledge an imposing outcrop shaped like its namesake.  Bear Cave (see history section below for the story) is around the far side along the trail and could be easy to pass.  The cave is actually quite large with a large initial chamber and a tight squeeze under a boulder into a small second chamber.

Past Bullet Ledge the trail is less used but is level for a good stretch.  You’ll reach a interesting junction of stonewalls flowing in different directions to create routes and good sized enclosures.  There are a couple cellar holes in this area, but I missed them.

A steep descent later will meet Myron Kinney Brook with clear water and lots of little cascades.   The trail follows the brook for awhile until rejoining Legend Wood Rd.

Next Section: 1.9 mile unblazed road walk Legend Wood Rd ➜ Johnson Rd ➜ Rt. 49. ➜ Tom Wheeler Rd ➜ Sand Hill Road

Previous Section: Cossaduck Bluffs

Letterbox Seedling Series

DEEP Official Link (Full information)

Clue:

Spend some time exploring this area.  It is known as High Ledge, and there are very interesting ledges, trails, and rock outcrops in the immediate area.  Notice the illegal campfire ring right off of the trail.  A fire in this spot could be very dangerous due to the large amount of dead trees and the potential for high winds at this location.

To find the letterbox, look on the High Ledge plateau for the sugar maple tree that forms a “Y”.  This tree may be a house to some animal and protects the boulder beneath it.  Your journey ends here, around the base of the rock, at the farthest point from the tree.

Boating

DEEP Boat Launch Page

I haven’t yet explored Wyassup Lake by boat.

The lake is 101 acres with a few islands on the eastern side.  Not much for comments in the way of fishing.

8 MPH limit, water-skiing permitted June 15 to the first Sunday after Labor Day. During this time speeds in excess of 8 MPH and water-skiing are allowed between 11 am and 6 pm. No towing of surf boards or water-skiers at any time between the islands and the east shore.

History:

In 1882, the legend of how the Bear Cave got its name was published in the History of New London County, Connecticut:

Not far from 1750, Maj. Israel Hewitt, who lived on Win-che-choog Hill [now called Wintechog Hill], in North Stonington, became a noted hunter, kept a kennel of bloodhounds, and for pastime and pleasure devoted much of his time in hunting these dangerous animals [wolves and bears]. One old bruin, who rendezvoused in an undiscovered cavern in the upper part of the town, became so destructive among the farmers’ herds in that vicinity that Maj. Hewitt was invited to hunt the rascal down and relieve them from so formidable a pest. So the old hunter, on horseback, in regal style, with servants, munitions of war, and a full corps of bloodhounds, started out in pursuit of the dreaded monster. The hounds soon came upon his foraging tracks, and with that heavenly, or at least unearthly, music that nothing but bloodhounds can chant, they followed with unerring certainty the old mugwump to his den. The practiced ear of the major assured him that the game was bagged. So riding up to the place he saw from the tremulous murmur of his dogs that they had a dangerous animal in hand. After examining the mouth of the cavern and in vain trying to induce the hounds to enter (which they could easily have done), he resolved to enter himself and force the old bruin to a fight in his own den.

The major closely examined his rifle to see if it was well loaded, then picking the flint and throwing off his hunter’s rig, he entered the cavern and cautiously crept along upon his hands and knees until he reached its lower chamber. By this time the darkness was all-pervading, except two headlights glaring at him from the farther end of the cavern, accompanied by a terrific growl, that told the hunter that his or old bruin’s time had come. But the major was equal to the occasion. He, raising his rifle and taking deliberate aim, add another glare to the infernal darkness which shook the cavern from its foundation to its summit. Slowly moving backwards, he reached the surface almost stifled with the sulphurous air of the den. Reloading his rifle and lighting a torch, he again descended into the cavern, and at the farther end he found old bruin with his headlights dim, beyond his growling and his howling, — he was dead. He removed the bear, and with the aid of an Indian servant took him on horseback and carried him home and dressed him, but none of the hounds would touch his meat. The site of this cavern, familiarly known as the “Bear’s Hole,” is situated some three miles north of the village of Milltown [now known as the village of North Stonington], and in former years was a famous resort for sight-seers and parties of young people. But a few invading red snakes having been seen guarding its portals, have sent it back to the silence and solitude that it enjoyed in the olden time. (Hurd p. 742)


Links:

The Story of the Yawgoog Trails – Connecticut Countryside II (2013)

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Last updated March 23rd, 2021

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