Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Along U.S. Route 6

U.S. Route 6 runs from Bishop, California to Provincetown, Massachusetts, a distance of 3205 miles through 14 states. It is officially called the Grand Army of the Republic or the G.A.R. Highway. It used to go all the way to the pacific coast at Long Beach, but a section was decommissioned in 1964. Prior to this decommissioning, it was the longest transcontinental route, spanning 3652 miles. That title is now held by U.S. Route 20.
Route 6 has been a thread throughout our adult lives. Except in our childhoods, we've almost always lived along it: in Mattapoisett, Fairhaven, New Bedford, and North Dartmouth, Massachusetts and now in East Providence, Rhode Island. It has popped up on several western trips. We noticed it in Denver and, during a trip to Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, we saw its western end. See the sign at the California end.

The east end of U.S. Route 6 is marked with this sign, which needs to be revised.

Cape Cod National Seashore

Three short hikes (totaling about two miles) in Provincetown and Truro show glacial effects and feature miniature forests of low growing trees. These tiny forests surround small fresh water ponds and provide oases in the sand dunes. Mainly evident are pitch pine, beech, tupelo, and black and white oak. It's amazing that trees can grow at all in such a sandy soil. Recommended hikes are Beech Forest in Provincetown and, at Pilgrim Heights in Truro, Small's Swamp Trail and Pilgrim Spring Trail. Beech Forest is located in Provincelands which also features a seven mile bike trail.

Beech Forest trail

Freshwater oasis in the dunes

Meadow by the sea

Connecticut/Rhode Island Border

When it crosses from Rhode Island into Connecticut, Route 6 runs right past Old Furnace State Park in Killingly. This small gem features beautiful and interesting terrain. The woodland showcases large white pines, pitch pine, oak, maple, hickory and birch but, unfortunately, the hemlocks are dying because of infestation by a non-native insect, the hemlock woolly adelgid. Rocky outcrops and glacial erratics are evident all along a three mile trail. The highlight of the walk is the view from a 200 foot cliff over Half Hill Pond looking east into Rhode Island. The cliff is used by technical rock climbers.

Dead and dying hemlocks
Rock climbers below!
The view from the cliff
Glacial landscape
Post by Paul Courcy