At Trailhead 1 follow the trail south, first along a small stream which soon joins the river. Where the stream and river join are the stonework remnants of a mill (see Historical Feature below). At the point where the trail and river meet, a glance upstream reveals the bridge over Rt. 80, and the dam for the Hammonasset Reservoir. The river slows as it enters large pools bordered by ridges and ledges on both sides.
South of the pool the river narrows and drops over a short run of rapids into a large, flat pool and then broadens. The trail here rises over an outcrop and then drops once more to pass close to the river’s edge. The mossy cliff-faces to the east rise sharply here, as the trail nears another beautiful broad, flat pool below the rapids where kingfishers are often seen. The trail passes good examples of rock fractured and moved by nature.
The deep, cool, moist ravines favor northern tree species. Hemlock, yellow birch, beech and some sugar maple, as well as the oaks, black birch, red maple and ash are common. Here, as in many other areas along the trail, hemlocks have been seriously affected by the introduced hemlock wooly adelgid insect.
In the shallows along the pool’s west bank, and further along, on the east bank also, red osier dogwood and other wet site shrubs have established a dense thicket. The trail passes over glacier-smoothed boulders and continues south along the river, where soon, it enters a broad flood plain. Exposed roots, sand, and drifts of detritus attest to the high water table and to the frequent flooding here. A cascading stream enters the river from the east.