Archive for June, 2017

Jenks Park – Central Falls

 

The largest park in the city of Central Falls offers a little less than a half mile of walking paths and a playground. The park adjacent to City Hall also has significant history and a tower that offers views of the surrounding area. The property is where Native Americans, up upon Dexter’s Ledge, first spotted a company of colonist soldiers during the King Phillips War in 1676. An ensuing battle took place nearby on the banks of the Blackstone River. During the battle a group of soldiers were taken prisoner and killed at Nine Men’s Misery in nearby Cumberland. The land that the park currently sits on was donated in 1890 and in 1904 Cogswell Tower was built upon Dexter’s Ledge. The tower is 70 feet tall and is the highest point in Central Falls. From the tower you see west to the Lincoln Highlands and south to Downtown Providence. Inside the tower is a winding wooden stairway that brings you to a platform just under the clock. Below the tower is one of Rhode Islands best kept secrets. In a vaulted chamber there is a grotto that sits under the tower. The walls are the sides of Dexter’s Ledge and the brick ceiling serves as the base of the tower. Tours are offered occasionally by the City of Central Falls.

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Cogswell Tower at Jenks Park

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Pic-Wil Nature Preserve- Barrington

  • Pic-Wil (Picerelli-Wilson) Nature Preserve
  • Barrington, RI
  • Trailhead: Undisclosed
  • Last Time Hiked: June 25, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.8 miles
  • Easy.

 

Mr. Ray Marr of the Barrington Land Conservation Trust and an avid lover of purple martins gave a public tour today of this property in Barrington. The Pic-Wil Nature Preserve, named after the former land owners Picerelli and Wilson, became a Barrington Land Conservation Trust property in 1987. The property was once the home to a bottling factory known as Deep Rock Water Company. Today, the property has three large meadows,  a small forest and a salt marsh on the upper reaches of Narragansett Bay. This property is a haven for birds. In fact it is known for its purple martins as they nest and resort here in the late spring and into the summer. The purple martin is a type of swallow, and here at Pic-Wil they reside in one of several gourd rack nests. At the time of this hike there were 53 nesting purple martins and over 100 in total. There are several bird boxes here as well as there is an attempt to attract the Eastern Bluebird. House wrens, hawks, and ospreys were also spotted here. The property has been home to deer, coyote, fox, weasels, squirrels, chipmunks, and rabbits as well. The small network of trails here lead you through the fields, the forest, and into the salt marsh. There is an active bee hive here on the property as part of a local pollination project. From the property you can see the Conimicut Lighthouse and across the bay to Warwick, North Kingstown, and Prudence Island. The property is not open to the public except when guided tours are offered. The tours are usually posted on their website or Facebook page. For more information contact the Barrington Land Conservation Trust.

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Summer Meadow (Note the gourd rack nest)

Portsmouth Loop Trail – Portsmouth

  • Portsmouth Loop Trail – Sakonnet Greenway
  • Linden Lane, Portsmouth, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°33’17.74″N, 71°15’3.36″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 22, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.9 miles
  • Easy.

 

The Portsmouth Loop Trail is part of the Sakonnet Greenway trail network. The loop itself follows the perimeter of a large field and a brushy area just off of Sandy Point Avenue. There is no parking allowed on this road however so you must park at the northern most end of the Greenway on Linden Lane and then follow the Greenway to the loop. There are a couple of posts that indicate where the trail is but is helpful to bring a copy of the map. Along the loop trail were several types of birds and several rabbits. The field is wide open and the area can tend to be a bit windy, which is nice on a hot summer day.

 

Trail map can be found at: Portsmouth Loop Trail.

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Field Along The Portsmouth Loop Trail.

Shining Rock – Northbridge

  • Shining Rock – Richard T. Larkin Conservation Area
  • School Street, Northbridge, MA
  • Trailhead: 42° 9’0.54″N, 71°38’27.29″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 16, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.3 miles
  • Moderate uphill hike.

 

A fellow hiker, and birder, led this hike for a small group up to Shining Rock in the Richard T. Larkin Conservation Area. The trail-head is just north of the house across the street from the parking area. Parking is available directly across the street from 373 School Street. The trail immediately starts to climb upward along a rocky dirt path under a canopy of beech, pines, oaks, and maples. Along this path on the left is an area that has been quarried. The drill holes are quite evident along the obvious man-made cuts. The trail splits ahead and we stayed to the right. The trail is slightly washed out in areas and could be challenging during rain events. At the next intersection we turned right passing a small cave on the left before coming to another split. Here we stayed to the right descending quickly down a few rocks before climbing back up to the trails end at the Shining Rock overlook. From here you have a sweeping view of the Blackstone River Valley below. The local teens have used the rock as an artistic canvass with some rather respectable graffiti, mostly being that of environmental concerns like “Save the Bees”. Be sure not to get too close to the edge as the rock towers over the pine forest below. From here we followed a trail westerly along the ridge of the rock downhill until we reached the trail we came in on. From here we retraced our steps back to the car. Along this hike we heard the songs of an indigo bunting, as well as oven birds, an osprey, a red belly woodpecker. The birds we saw up close were robins, a tanager. An eagle and its eaglets were observed in the distance from the overlook.

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The View From Atop Shining Rock

Seekonk River – Providence

  • Seekonk River – Blackstone Valley Bike Path
  • Pitman Street, Providence, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°49’36.39″N, 71°23’0.49″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 13, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.2 miles
  • Easy.

 

The newest section of the Blackstone River Bike Path is just about ready to be opened. With that being said, I ventured out to take a sneak peak at it. The short section of bike path, six tenths of a mile one way, runs from Pitman Street opposite Witherby Park southerly to Gano Street by the end of the exit ramp from Interstate 195. This section of the bike path takes bicyclists off of the very busy Gano and Pitman Streets and puts them along the shore of the Seekonk River. Starting adjacent to the Salvation Army property the bike path winds very gently up and over a couple small hills passing behind the Wingate Residences and the Eastside Marketplace at Cold Spring Point. Soon you will get your first glimpse of the 1908 Crook Point Bascule Bridge. This structure was in operation and used by trains until the mid 1970’s. The bridge was then put into its famous upright position and abandoned. Some consider it an eyesore, others think of it as historic. Nonetheless, it is one of Providences most recognizable sights. The bike path then passes along Gano Park and its ball fields. There is an informational board along this stretch that explains the history of the park and nearby area. After being forced from his original settlement across the river, this is (actually nearby at Slate Rock) is where Roger Williams, the founder of Providence and Rhode Island, first step foot onto the shore in 1636. You can actually see the monument from this point by looking over the soccer field towards Gano Street. Looking out towards the river you can see the Washington Bridge that carries Interstate 195 over the Seekonk River. Across the river is the East Providence waterfront. You will also see two small islands, aptly named Twin Islands. Locals call them Cupcake Island and Pancake Island which they resemble respectively. The river is usually busy with canoes, kayaks, boats, and the Brown University crew teams. The bike path then passes the Gano Street boat ramp before turning to the right and ending at Gano Street. From here you can return back to Pitman Street for the 1.2 mile walk or you can follow the sharrows to India Point Park. With the grand opening soon, this bike path serves as a vital link to connect the waterfront of Providence from Blackstone Park to India Point and ultimately into downtown at Waterplace Park.

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Crook Point Bascule Bridge from the Bike Path.

Millville Lock/Triad Bridge – Millville

 

This walk follows the old railroad bed of the Boston and Hartford Railroad easterly to the Blackstone River from the parking area on the corner of Central and Hope Streets. Just recently this stretch has been paved and is now part of the newly opened Blackstone Greenway Bike Path. The old rail bed is flanked by trees and shrubs as it passes a residential neighborhood. At the sitting bench just beyond the mid way point of this walk is a set of wooden stairs that leads to the trail that winds down to the former Blackstone Canal along the river. Just to the left is a small footbridge that crosses Angelique Brook to the lock. The large stones that make the lock were put in place in the late 1820’s when the Blackstone Canal was being built. The lock served as a point where water levels could be controlled for the passage of barges along the canal. The Millville Lock is the most preserved along the stretch of the Blackstone River. Continuing back to the bike path and turning left you will soon come to a bridge that crosses the Blackstone River. After crossing the bridge turn around and take a good look around. To the left and slightly above is a towering concrete support of a bridge that was never built. That support, along with one behind your right shoulder and below in the river to your left were built to carry the Grand Trunk Rail over the Blackstone River. The president of that company died on the RMS Titanic in April of 1912. Though construction continued for several more years, plans for the railroad were scraped and the bridge was never built. Ahead, the bridge you just crossed, was the rail bridge that served as Boston and Hartford Railroads Southern New England Trunkline. Today it is used partly as the Blackstone River Greenway and also as a trail that runs from the state line at Thompson, Connecticut and runs easterly to Franklin. And finally, below and to the right you will see the Providence and Worcester Railroad bridge that crosses the river. That bridge is still in active use by trains. At one time in the early 20th century it was intended that three railroad bridges would cross the Blackstone River at the same spot, hence earning its name, Triad Bridge. At this point you are approximately a mile from the parking lot. For this walk return along the bike path back to your car, or you can add several more miles of walking by continuing east. The bike path continues about another mile and a half to its easterly terminus in Blackstone.

 

Trail map can be found at: Millville Lock

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Panoramic of the Triad Bridge

Feurer Park – North Kingstown

  • Feurer Park
  • LaFayette Road, North Kingstown, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°34’26.86″N, 71°29’26.91″W
  • Last Time Hiked: June 1, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.4 miles
  • Easy with a small hill.

 

While in the neighborhood (after visiting Ryan Park) and visiting every trail I can find in Rhode Island, I decided to stop by Feurer Park. Behind the ball field is a small network of nature trails that wind along and across the Annaquatucket River. The trails under the power lines and the property will end by the railroad tracks. Do not go onto or cross the tracks.

 

Trail map can be found at: Feurer Park

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Annaquatucket River