Published August 10. 2011 4:00AM Updated August 11. 2011 12:12PM
Town: North Stonington
Directions: Take I-95N to Exit 92. Left off exit ramp to get on Route 2. A right on Milltown Road will take you around under the Route 2 overpass to get on Wintechog Hill Road. The unmarked trail head will be on your right about a quarter-mile up the road.
Where to Park: A dirt shoulder at the entrance to the trail is wide enough to accommodate three or four cars.
Description: Of all the hikes in this region, this is probably one of the most interesting. Note that the entrance isn't marked with a sign. Once you walk up the first short hill, though, you'll find a sign marking the "start of Lantern Hill Trail Loop." You can take the steeper trail straight up or opt for a 30-minute hike along the rim of the hill, which gradually takes you to the 491-foot summit.
It's a narrow path – white quartz cliffs to one side, sharp drop-off to the other – so pay attention to your footing. The loop trail is marked with little metal tags that depict an arrow with a feather. Other trails marked with blue paint are part of the longer Narragansett Trail system.
Hikers can access an alternative route to the summit via the rear parking lot of Two Trees Inn at Foxwoods, 240 Indiantown Road, Ledyard, that travels over a well-groomed, well-marked gravel path and across a wooden footbridge before diverging to a narrower, rougher, blue-blazed trail.
A branch of that same trail also can be reached from Lantern Hill Road, just south of Two Trees. Look for the blue blazes on a telephone pole.
The view up top is, despite the very teal presence of nearby Foxwoods Resort Casino, still one of the nicest around. Some claim you can see clear off to Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as well as to Fishers Island and Block Island. I couldn't see that far on my recent visit there, but it was a cloudy day, and really, how different does Rhode Island look from North Stonington or Ledyard?
There are a couple of different trails heading up to the overlook and back down. Take note of which trail you're on; blindly following the blue trail down will spit you out the back of the North Stonington transfer station off Wintechog Hill Raod.
An extensive network of trails and logging roads branches out at various points near the main routes leading to Lantern Hill, so adventurous hikers can explore much farther than just the summit. In fact, the path heading toward the transfer station is the southwestern terminus of the Narragansett Trail, which follows a circuitous route of more than 25 miles all the way to Narragansett, R.I.
Regulations: None posted.
Natural Features: White quartz cliffs make this a popular spot for rock climbers.
Things to Note: Lantern Hill was once the site of a silica mine that opened in the 19th century and operated for the next 100 or so years. The Westerly Morris Men have made an annual tradition of celebrating the first sunrise of spring atop the hill.
Owned by: Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation
More information: http://www.mdc.net/~dbrier/yawgoog/trails/narragansett.html