Hiking the Airline Trail to the CT/MA/RI State Tri-Point • Jerimoth Hill, Rhode Island’s High Point • July 2, 2017 • Written by Curtis
For the four day weekend our friend Lars came down to Connecticut to go hiking. Unfortunately, Connecticut is generally lacking in high peaks. We had already hiked the highest point in the state and the region was 3 hours distant besides. So instead we opted to do some more geo-political hiking in the NE corner of the state.
The Airline Trail – Top 2: Hermit Cave
We followed I-395 North towards the corner and, after a bit of confusion, stopped at a trail head for the Airline Trail in East Thompson. The Airline Trail follows the track of the New Haven, Middletown, and Willimantic Railroad, a passenger railroad running from Central CT towards Boston. We were on the last half mile before the trail entered into Massachusetts and also near the site of the only train wreck to involve four engines.
About a half mile down the trail we encountered an old plank bridge that crossed the trail. On the North side of the bridge was a small man made cave locally known as ‘The Hermit Cave’. The origin of the cave is a bit mysterious, ranging from Indians, colonial settlers, and my personal favorite, pre-Colombian Celts.
A bit further down the trail we turned off from the rail line and started up hill. We passed by old granite MA-CT markers with dates from the early 1900’s and soon enough came to the Massachusetts – Connecticut – Rhode Island tri-state marker. While at the marker we made an observation that, despite the fact that it was July, the trees were still quite bare, and the leaves that had budded were the bright, vibrant green that we had seen at the beginning of spring. Another hiker with his family informed us that this is because of the gypsy moth. We had heard about it before, but this was the first time we had seen the effects. It’s amazing what an invasive species can do. This was actually one of the first things we noticed when driving down to New London for the first time — the trees along the interstates were quite bare as well.
We continued hiking on following the RI-MA border towards another railroad/road bed before cutting North. We passed by several cellar holes and stone walls before linking back up with the Airline trail and heading back to the car. Despite the fact that we had no vistas on this trail, we really enjoyed seeing the history and imagining what this area looked like back when the houses and farmlands stood here. Part of the trail we followed looked like it had been a historic road, as it was wide and lined with stone walls on either side.
From the North East corner we zig zagged our way South and East into Rhode Island towards the town of Foster, RI. Just West of that town is Jerimoth Hill, the highest point in Rhode Island. We parked along the side of the road and began our trek. It was a grueling climb of 6′ over .1 miles to the dizzying height of 812′. The trees blocked the view, but I’m sure there was one. We had seen pictures of this high point, and images showed there to be streamers and a trail register, but none of that was out today, and all we have to show for our accomplishment is a picture of us standing next to a small cairn in the woods. But a high point is a high point — this is Jess’ 12th, Curtis’ 10th, and Charlotte’s 8th!
We finished our triumphant highpointing with some well deserved sandwiches and ice cream at a local dairy on the way back.