Archive for the ‘ ~NORTH SMITHFIELD RI~ ’ Category

Wunnashowatuckqut – North Smithfield/Blackstone

  • Wunnashowatuckqut
  • East Harkness Road, North Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead:  42° 0’24.59″N, 71°33’37.07″W
  • Last Time Hiked: February 12, 2022
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.6 miles
  • Moderate due to navigation, difficult at times with some hills.

Wunnashowatuckqut… What? It is Nipmuc for “where the river splits”. The Nipmuc were present on this land where the Blackstone River and Branch River meet just south of the Blackstone Gorge. And speaking of the gorge, you will get an entirely different perspective of the gorge on this hike along the lesser known trails along its western bank. For this hike, led by members of the North Smithfield Heritage Association, we followed trails through State owned properties. Being a warm day in February, the ground was frozen and quite icy in areas. The trails do become somewhat difficult in spots where you may be required to do a near climb on some of the uphill sections. The trails may also become quite muddy in spring weather. There is also no official blaze system or trail map, however, this loop can be completed following the orange marks provided by a local. With all that being said, I would not venture out onto this property without at least GPS or a general sense of direction. The other option is to follow the North Smithfield Heritage Association on Facebook and wait until they lead another hike on this property. Also be sure to wear orange as it is State property. Nonetheless, this hike is a good one, offering quite a bit to see. Starting from the bend in the road on East Harkness Road and Martha Road by utility pole 61, follow the paper street on East Harkness Road. It looks like a driveway (the one with the power lines), as it is in a sense. Soon you will see a house to the left. Continue straight and slightly uphill to continue following the paper street. It now becomes more of a cart path as it climbs slightly uphill into the former James Harkness Farm. Along this stretch you will be behind houses to the left. There will be an occasional spur trail to the left. Ignore these as they lead to private properties. Soon you will come to a trail intersection with a trail to the right. Ignore the turn and continue straight. The trail to the right is your return trail. Ahead you will notice the first of the orange marks. The trail crests the hill and starts its descent to the river. Along the way you will soon be flanked by a stone wall to the left. We saw at least a half dozen deer here. As the trail descends it is deeply rutted in areas. Be careful of your steps here. Near the bottom of the hill the trail narrows. Keep an eye out for the orange marks. You will cross another stone wall. This is the State Line and you are now entering Blackstone, Massachusetts and still descending down the hill. The narrow trail comes to a wider path. Veer slightly right here and follow the orange marks. The trail now levels and winds a bit. At the next intersection a trail to the left leads to private property and is posted. Stay right here and you will cross another stone wall. You will soon come to a large open area with a make shift fire pit near its middle. There are several spur trails leaving this open area. Stay just to the left of the pit and follow the main trail downhill. At the next split stay to the left. Still following the orange blazes you will come to another split. To the left is posted private property. Stay to the right here and the trail follows the shore of an inlet of the Blackstone River. This is a good spot to observe birds. Also there is evidence of beaver activity here. Continuing along this trail you will come to a wider trail ahead. Turn left here and in a few steps you will be on “The Other Side” on the famed Rolling Dam at Blackstone Gorge. The perspective here is quite interesting. For as many times as I have been to Blackstone Gorge, I had never step foot on the other side. This is a good spot for a break. The rest of the hike is uphill. Continue along the main trail for a few hundred feet. Turn left onto a narrower trail, once again following the orange marks. This trail climbs slightly and along the river passing mountain laurel and schist outcrops. As it winds slightly up and down hill you will get glimpses of the river and gorge below (maybe except when leaves are on the trees). You are now back in North Smithfield, Rhode Island. The trail then turns away from the river and increasingly climbs uphill. From here on out be sure to follow the orange marks and make sure your GPS is on. Soon a trail comes in from the right. Ignore it and continue straight ahead and uphill until you come to the next intersection. Take a breather! The worse of the uphill climb is now behind you. Stay right here and look for the orange mark on the tree. The trail bends slightly to the south and you will pass some boulders on the right. Slow down and pay attention here. You are looking for a right turn onto a very narrow trail that is almost non-existent. It is however marked with the orange marks (and at the time of this hike, flagging). Be sure to follow the orange marks as it is easy to drift off the trail. Here the trail climbs again slightly uphill. It soon widens a bit as it winds westward. This trail will eventually come to the trail you entered the property on. There you will turn left and retrace your steps back to the street.

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Rolling Dam from the “Other Side”

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The dam and rapids in the gorge as seen from the trail along the river.

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Orange Marks… be sure to look for the next one!!

Booth Pond – North Smithfield/Woonsocket

  • Booth Pond Conservation Area
  • Dowling Village Boulevard, North Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°58’44.15″N, 71°30’21.44″W
  • Last Time Hiked: July 10, 2021
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.8 miles
  • Fairly easy, some significant elevation.

A hidden gem behind a bustling shopping area preserved from further development. Starting by a kiosk at the Dowling Village Apartments follow the access trail through a power line easement and into the woods. For this hike we turned left at the first intersection onto the Booth Pond Trail and followed it to the southern shore of the pond. Here you will find evidence of beaver activity and their handy work of tree trimming. Continuing along the trail we then turned left at the next major intersection onto the Border Trail. This trail straddles the town line with Woonsocket. The trail bears to the right when it reaches the pond again. From here we continued pass the “Seasonal Passage”. This area is quite unique as the trail dips substantially below the water level of the pond. A wall of logs and branches of a beaver dam holds the pond back. There is a rocky outcrop just after the dip that looks over the northern end of the pond. This is a good spot to take in the views. From here we continued ahead to a multiple trail intersection. Here we turned to the right onto the Pitch Pine Trail. This trail looks as if was an old cart path as it climbs steadily uphill most of its length. We ignored the trails to the left and then on the right on the way up the hill until we found the trail that turns to the right and goes through the Pitch Pine Grove. At the end of that trail we then turned right onto the Border Trail for a bit and then left onto the Vista Trail back into North Smithfield. We soon passed a trail to the right that we would later exit on. soon we turned left onto a trail to the left that continued to climb uphill a bit until it reached the power lines. We turned right here and followed the trail to the overlook. From the overlook we followed the Vista Trail north and then turned left (trail we passed earlier) and scaled downhill passing some impressive ledges. We then turned left onto the Booth Pond Trail and retraced our steps back to the entrance. There are no blazed trails here (yet) however maps are available at the kiosk. There are many more trails here to explore if you are looking to look around a little further.

Map can be found at: Booth Pond

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Visitor to Booth Pond

Gold Farm & Forest – North Smithfield

  • Gold Farm & Forest
  • North Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead:  Private Property, Undisclosed
  • Last Time Hiked: April 4, 2020
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.5 miles
  • Fairly easy, some elevation.

 

This property in North Smithfield is currently private, however, it is likely going to be donated to the Town of North Smithfield in the future. The current owner, Mr. Gold, has allowed access to the property for a brief time. Taking the opportunity to do so, I went out to explore the stunningly spectacular property. The trails here are not blazed, however they are mostly named and there is a sign at just about every intersection (Some very comical). Using GPS wouldn’t hurt, but following the main trails will pretty much assure that you will not get lost. For this hike I did about two and a half of the six miles here making a point to find my way to the far end of the property to the shores of Tarklin Pond. Along the way I stumbled upon many, many highlights. A stone bridge crossing a brook by some interesting stonework, possibly the remains of an old structure. The stone walls here are fascinating showcasing craftsmanship from yesteryear. There is a large field on the property as well. Researching the property and old aerial photography, it appears there may have been an orchard here at one time. Exploring deeper into the property, the trails wind up and down hills through a canopy of oaks, pines, and a sporadic beech tree. The trail that I had decided to use followed a ridge line quite substantially high above a valley below. I had reached the shores of the pond and found a picnic table to sit at. I spent quite a bit of time here taking in the beauty of nature. For the remainder of the hike I zigzagged my way to an railroad bed that would lead me back to the entrance. This railroad bed was part of the line that the Woonasquatucket Bike Path, Stillwater Trail, and the Burriville Bike Path uses. Keep an eye on this property in the future. When it does open to the public, it will be well worth checking out!

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Stone Bridge

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Rest Area

Centennial Park – North Smithfield

  • Centennial Park
  • Main Street, North Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°59’57.02″N, 71°34’53.21″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 1, 2016
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.3 miles
  • Easy with slight elevation.

 

Part of the Blackstone River Valley National Historic Park, Centennial Park offers a tour of yesteryear. The small park is behind the North Smithfield Library on Main Street in the heart of historic Slatersville. This village is the first planned mill village in the United States. The short single out and back trail first leads you down to the shore of the Slatersville Reservoir where you can view two of the three dams at the park. The dams here were built in the mid nineteenth century. Continuing along the trail the Branch River is below to your right and a manmade canal is to the left. This canal is where most of the western mill complex was. The large stone structure across the canal is one of two buildings remaining of the original mill complex. This structure is the picker house. The other remaining structure is the building now used by the library. The trail ends at the next dam just before a stone bridge. This is where the canal dumps back into the Branch River. From here retrace your steps back to the parking area. Also, if you care to wander around, check out the village. There is a ton of history here.

 

Historic map can be found at: Centennial Park

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Slatersville Reservoir

Rocky Hill – North Smithfield

  • Rocky Hill Conservation Area
  • Rocky Hill Road, North Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°56’51.33″N, 71°31’39.63″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 16, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.7 miles
  • Fairly easy will some elevation.

 

Although short in distance, this trail offers quite a bit. The trail head is opposite number 382 Rocky Hill Road and is marked with a sign. The yellow blazed trail passes stone walls and crosses small streams. After climbing over the steepest hill on the property the trail then crosses another stream and splits. The remainder of the trail is a loop that leads back to this point. After doing the loop retrace your steps back to the road. I saw several types of birds here and a few chipmunks. At the time of this hike the leaves were all but off of the trees and covering the rocky trail. Watch your footing.

Trail map can be found at: Rocky Hill

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Trail and Stone Walls

Blackstone River North – Woonsocket/North Smithfield/Lincoln

  • Blackstone River Bikeway – North
  • Davison Avenue, Woonsocket, RI
  • Trailhead: 42° 0’2.26″N, 71°29’54.91″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 6, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.1 miles
  • Easy.

I’ve decided to walk the Blackstone River Bikeway and take in the sights along the way. I’ve broken it up into three sections, all around 3 miles in length. The route I describe will be a one way route, therefore, if you are not doing a car spot you must double the distance listed. I also decided to start in Woonsocket and work my way south for this walk. Starting from the parking area on Davison Avenue, the bike path first follows an access road to the athletic complex. Soon we were passing a soccer field and then following the bike path that lies between the Blackstone River and the Providence & Worcester railroad tracks. Along the bike path there are mile markers. The distances listed are the miles to Providence. Interesting enough there are mile markers along the railroad as well. The “P” stands for Providence and the “W” stands for Worcester. We came across some ducks and swans in some of the inlets of the river. The trees were in spring bloom and the colors were reminiscence of autumn. Next we came to a granite marker with the names of the three towns that converge here. Soon we were passing under the highway bridge that carries Route 99 over the Blackstone. From under the bridge you can get a sense of how deep the valley is here by how high the bridge is. We then came to an area along the river that had a channel next to it. This is one of the sections of what is left of the Blackstone Canal. The canal was built in the 1820’s to connect Providence and Worcester. It would remain in operation until the late 1840’s. By then the railroad had become the primary means of transportation. Most of the canal today has been filled in or is covered in thick brush. The final highlight of this portion of the walk is the Manville Dam. It was built in 1868 and a few years later a mill was built at this site. The mill at the time was the largest textile mill in the United States. We then continued passing under Manville Hill Road and making our way to the parking lot off of New River Road. A couple weeks later we would continue our walk onto the next section of the bike path.

Trail map can be found at: Blackstone River North.

Manville Dam.

Manville Dam.

Fort Nature – North Smithfield

  • Fort Nature Refuge
  • Providence Pike, North Smithfield, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°57’39.16″N, 71°33’9.43″W
  • First Time Hiked: March 31, 2013
  • Last Time Hiked: March 8, 2015
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.75 miles
  • Easy with some slight elevation.

 

The temperature on Easter morning at 7:30 am was in the low 30’s. By the end of the hike at 10:00 am it was close to 55°. Spring is definitely here. And sound of wildlife is in abundance. Starting at a small parking area I followed the blue trail through some woods.  The blue trail loop splits not too far in. I decided to follow the path to the right.  I saw several birds along this stretch. A short distance up, a spur trail leads off to the right to go down to the pond. I was, again, apparently not quiet enough as I scared off some ducks before I reached the shore. Nonetheless, a great photo spot. Back to the blue trail, bypassing the white trail, to a fork. This is where the yellow trail begins. Beware though of the yellow trail.  It is the connector trail between the blue loop and the red loop and it is currently not marked very well.  I found myself doing a lot of back-tracking. The yellow trail went under a set of power lines, then back into a heavily wooded area. It then proceeded to go by a bench by the second pond, before heading around the edge of the pond. This is where it got a little tricky. The beavers have been hard at work here and part of the yellow trail was covered in water. There were many trees fell by them. I just went around the beaver dam after spotting a blaze on the other side of the water. I then came across a beaver lodge but I did not come across any these beavers.  I then proceeded to the end of the yellow trail onto the red loop trail which briefly borders the third pond. After the loop. I retraced my steps (again, with some back-tracking along the yellow trail) back to the parking area.

More info & trail map can be found at: Fort Nature

The Pond By The Yellow Trail

The Pond By The Yellow Trail

Blackstone Gorge – Blackstone/North Smithfield

  • Blackstone River Gorge – Blackstone River & Canal Heritage State Park
  • County Street, Blackstone, MA
  • Trailhead: 42° 0’54.97″N, 71°33’9.25″W
  • First Time Hiked: March 2, 2013
  • Last Time Hiked: October 2, 2021
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.75 mile
  • Easy with some slight elevation and optional climbing.

 

The gorge is mostly in Rhode Island although access is only from Massachusetts, and yes, it is in fact a gorge.  There is a dam here just before the gorge that made for a couple good pictures. A couple of swans seem to have claimed the area as theirs. The hike is relatively short, just over a mile at most, but the terrain can be a little tricky if you decide to climb any of the rocks. There is one spot that overlooks the gorge that is about 70 feet above the river. A beautiful spot to relax and take in the beauty of the surroundings. Do not get too close to the edge here. Overall, a nice little hike.

Trail map can be found at: Blackstone River Gorge

The Dam At Blackstone Gorge

The Dam At Blackstone Gorge