Explore New England’s Stone Walls on These 5 Hikes
Whether you believe Robert Frost’s famous line “good fences make good neighbors” or not, there’s no shortage of stone walls in New England!
If you’re looking to learn more about these historic stone walls, your first step would be to pick up Robert Thorson’s Exploring Stone Walls: A Field Guide to New England’s Stone Walls. Thorson, a professor of geosciences at the University of Connecticut and co-founder of the Stone Wall Initiative, has been studying these historic walls for years and found that thickest concentration of them was along the Connecticut coast to Portland, Maine, and inland about 100 miles. You’ll discover a wealth of information about the nature, history, geology, and construction of these iconic structures.
And if you’re just looking to just get out and explore them on your own, here are some of the most famous ones. We’ve included a few of these and picked a few others for your sightseeing adventures.
MENDING WALL AT FROST FARM | DERRY, N.H.
If you want to start at the source, head to Frost Farm to see what inspired this famous poem. The farm and its 13 acres are a historical site, including the family’s white clapboard homestead, attached barn, trails, woods, stone walls, and streams. There are also places on the trails that indicate poetic points of interest for the literary fans.
CRUDE WALL AT THE OLD MANSE | CONCORD, MA
Inspiring another literary work, this wall provided a source of inspiration for Ralph Waldo Emerson to publish Nature in 1836. Not only that, but the Crude Wall was also used a typical pasture fence and provided safety to soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Make sure to stop by to visit the Old Manse, the historic Georgian clapboard building where Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne both called home for a time. The Manse also overlooks North Bridge where the famous battle of April 1775 occurred.
FULLING MILL BROOK PRESERVE | CHILMARK, MA
If you find yourself on Martha’s Vineyard and are looking for more to explore than just the beaches, head to Chilmark for a hike (about 1.4 miles through the preserve) that traces the length of Fulling Mill Brook between Middle Road and South Road where most of the old stone walls are dry built. The preserve also includes remnants of house foundations, chimneys, and the remains of a dam that provided water for the mill.
CASEY FARM | SAUNDERSTOWN, R.I.
You’ll find three hundred acres lined with more than ten miles of sturdy dry-laid stone walls at this historic farm in Rhode Island. With a storied history, and recent renovations to the masonry, this is quite an interesting spot to get your stone wall fix. It’s also a great place to explore the extensive surrounding gardens.
HILL-STEAD MUSEUM | FARMINGTON, CT
If you’d like to combine some art viewing along with stone walls, this museum should be on your list! The museum’s collection of paintings by some of the most famous Impressionist artists rival artwork found in major museums. And the farmstead itself is defined by its iconic basalt stone walls—be sure to explore the property after the museum for a dose of art and nature.
Explore the trails throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic and pick up one of AMC’s Best Day Hikes books today!