The Flintlock Trail takes its name from a 19th century cart path that connected Plain Road to small farm, back in the woods. The trail... more » is blazed yellow, and accessed via the Pond Trail, from the south end of the parking lot.
Heading east from the trail junction, note the parallel tracks worn in the ground by a century of horse-and-wagon traffic. The old trail is even clearer where it passes through a gap in a stone wall, indicating that the land was once pastured. About a half mile down the trail, a historic cemetery tells the story of the Ellis family, who farmed the area before the Civil War.
Just past the cemetery, the trail winds through the old farmstead, which The Nature Conservancy partially opened up for songbird habitat in 2010. Previous owners of property lived here into the late 1980s, before it was abandoned. The trail turns left at a small farm pond, which was re-engineered as a family swimming hole in the 1970s.
Leaving the clearing, the trail passes through a grove of majestic white pines along a wide path covered with soft needles. A side trail offers a look at a larger, secluded pond, which beavers help maintain today. After a half-mile on this wide lane, the trail curves left into the woods, slipping past a red maple swamp.
Climbing out of the lowlands, the Flintlock Trail emerges into open woods, where slow-growing oaks are giving way to more vigorous white pines. At the top of a hill, hikers have a choice: check out more of the old pasture to the right or turn left and explore a boulder garden. Either way, this mile-long segment ends where Flintlock rejoins the Pond Trail. Continue straight ahead to complete a 3-mile loop, or turn right for a longer hike around Tillinghast Pond. less «