Posts Tagged ‘ Blackstone River Valley National Historic Park ’

Pleasant Valley Parkway – Providence

  • Pleasant Valley Parkway
  • Pleasant Valley Parkway, Providence, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°50’8.42″N, 71°26’5.41″W
  • Last Time Hiked: August 20, 2022
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.4 miles
  • Easy.

                                                                            

 

A lesser know version of the Blackstone Boulevard (and slightly shorter), Pleasant Valley Parkway offers a stroll along a combination of paved paths, gravel paths, and some street walking. The linear park wedged between the two roads of Pleasant Valley Parkway runs from behind Roger Williams Hospital to Academy Avenue. A drainage swale/stream runs down the center of the park with a couple pedestrian bridges that cross it. There is also a variety of trees within the park that you would not normally come upon in other spots of the city. The walk out and back is just under a mile and a half.

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Walking Path at Pleasant Valley Parkway

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!!

Goat Hill Lock – Uxbridge/Northbridge

  • Goat Hill Lock
  • Hartford Avenue East, Uxbridge, MA
  • Trailhead:  42° 5’50.94″N, 71°37’25.35″W
  • Last Time Hiked: December 21, 2021
  • Approximate distance hiked: 2.4 miles
  • Moderate, significant elevation.

Goat Hill itself can get the blood flowing as some of the trail is quite steep. The trail that runs along the bottom of the hill along the river is much easier and fairly level. For this hike, I did a loop that included climbing up and over the hill making for a moderate hike. From a small parking area along the side and across the busy road, make your way across a large open lawn to the kiosk. Beyond the kiosk and a couple hundred feet into the woods look to turn left and start the climb up the hill. The trail is blazed blue and the ascent is steady. In the winter months you will have a view of the Blackstone River to the right. On the left you will start to notice boulders up upon the hill. Soon you will see an unmarked trail to the left. Ignore it and continue ahead following the blue blazed trail. The trail plateaus briefly. There are scattered boulders throughout this area. The trail the continues uphill and becomes increasingly steeper. There are a few more spur trails in this area. Some have signs such as “PK&C”, “Bone Spur”, and “Greenway”. There appears to be a significant trail system upon the hill, but they are not shown on the trail map. Explore at your own risk. For this hike continue to follow the blue blazes. The trail crests over the top of the hill and starts a steady descent flanked by an impressive stone wall on the left. Take your time a watch your footing here as the descent can be a bit difficult. At the bottom of the hill turn right and follow the blue blazes to the next intersection. Along this stretch is a seasonal babbling brook on the left for a bit. At the next intersection turn left and down a short but steep section of trail then continue ahead to a small wooden bridge. This is the Goat Hill Lock. It once was part of the 1828 Blackstone Canal. This is a good spot for a break. From here return to the last intersection and turn left. The trail is blazed blue, fairly level, and follows the foot of the hill back to the kiosk at the entrance. Along the way you will have views of the river on the left as well as Rice City Pond. To the right there will be areas of bull briar, a haven for songbirds, and a rather significant boulder. You should wear orange here as hunting is allowed.

Trail Map: Goat Hill Lock.

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Bridge at The Lock

Pierce Riverwalk – Central Falls

  • Pierce Riverwalk – Blackstone River Bikeway
  • High Street, Central Falls, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°53’40.95″N, 71°23’0.18″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 19, 2021
  • Approximate distance hiked: 0.6 miles
  • Easy, paved bike path.

A new section of the Blackstone River Bikeway has arrived in Central Falls. The short three thirds of a mile path takes the existing route off of the streets of Central Falls and along the Blackstone River for a bit. It also reopens the long closed Pierce Riverwalk and Park. The path, from High Street to Cortland Street, offers views of the Blackstone River and sits on land once the home to a fierce battle between Native Americans and Colonists.

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The Riverwalk Along The Blackstone River

Market Square – Woonsocket

  • Market Square – Blackstone River Bikeway
  • Market Square, Woonsocket, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°59’59.80″N, 71°31’1.79″W
  • Last Time Hiked: November 17, 2021
  • Approximate distance hiked: 1.2 miles
  • Easy, paved bike path.

A new section of the Blackstone River Bikeway has arrived in central Woonsocket. The short six tenths of a mile section is all off road from Market Square easterly crossing Main Street to Truman Drive where it crosses then follows the road northerly to its end. After crossing under Court Street you will catch glimpses of the Blackstone River through the trees. At the end turn around and retrace your steps for a 1.2 mile walk.

Trail Map: Market Square.

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Blackstone River Bikeway Along Truman Drive

Moshassuck River Preserve – Lincoln

  • Moshassuck River Preserve/MacColl YMCA
  • Sherman Avenue, Lincoln, RI
  • Trailhead:  41°54’52.26″N, 71°26’32.76″W
  • Last Time Hiked: October 24, 2021
  • Approximate distance hiked: 3.0 miles
  • Moderate.

The newest of the publicly open Nature Conservancy properties, Moshassuck River Preserve catapults to the top of the list of trails in Rhode Island you must hike. The property offers two blazed loops, a historic cemetery, old stone dam, a ridgeline, boulder field, a vernal pool, several stream crossings, and the Moshassuck River itself. The trails traverse over the property known once Camp Conklin, a former Boy Scout property, and the abutting property of the MacColl YMCA. For this three mile hike start at the parking area at the bend in Sherman Avenue at the Fairlawn Golf Course. There is a sign here indicating the entrance to the hiking trails. First you will pass the open lawn of the golf course on the left before coming to a river crossing. This is your first glance of the Moshassuck. To the right is an old stone dam. The craftsmanship of the stone work is quite impressive. Next your will bear to the left. There will be a large boulder on the hill to the right. Make note of this boulder as you will need it later in the hike to find the access trail to the parking area. After bearing to the left you will notice the first of the blue blazes. Shortly on the left is the Hayden Memorial, placed here when this was a Boy Scout property. From here you will begin to slightly climb uphill. Turn left at the intersection with the yellow blazes and continue to climb uphill. Soon you will reach the top of a ridgeline with a great view of the forest below. Continuing ahead the rail goes downhill quickly first bending to the left and then to the right. You come to the first of several stream crossings here. This crossing is fairly easy as the placement of stones make for a good crossing. Just ahead on the left is a historic cemetery. The grave markers are small and scattered throughout the area. Next you will come to a significant stream crossing. The Nature Conservancy has plans to build stream and river crossings where needed, but for now choose your stones to make the crossing. The trail now winds through a boulder field before entering onto the YMCA property. The narrow trail comes to a dirt road. Continue straight ahead and follow the dirt road. It bends to the right over a culvert, narrows a bit and climbs uphill. Look for the turn to the right onto a narrow (yellow blazed) trail near the top of the hill. After making the turn the trail dips downhill through an area of boulders, crosses a bridge, then climbs uphill once again and comes to a stone wall. Follow the wall keeping it to your right ignoring side trails through the wall. The trail then bends to the right back onto Nature Conservancy property, descends to a muddy stream crossing. It was in this area we came upon a rather fearless deer. It was well aware of our presence but did not seem to fear us. The trail then climbs uphill passing more scattered boulders. Soon we passed the white blazed trail to the right and shortly after that turned left onto the blue blazed trail. The blue loop winds through the northern part of the property. First passing another small area of boulders the trail climbs up and down several small hills, crosses another small stream, and passes what appears to be a manmade well or spring on the left. The trail from here climbs significantly uphill to the highest reaches of the property before making a turn to the right and descending for quite a while. Keep an eye to the left for a vernal pool. Approaching the bottom of the hill you will come to a stone wall and private property to the left. With a slight turn to the right the Moshassuck River is now to your left. The trail then turns first to the right, then to the left, winding around private property, before rejoining the river briefly once again. A small bridge crossing is just ahead and then you will enter another small boulder field with the river on the left once again. This is a great spot to sit and listen to the water trickle by. The trail then climbs slightly uphill as the river winds away from the trail. Look for a large boulder on the left balancing on a significantly smaller stone. This is the boulder you observed when you entered the property. Just after the boulder turn left and follow the access trail pass the old stone dam back to the parking area.

Trail Map: Moshassuck River.

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Trail Along The Moshassuck River

Swan Point River Trail – Providence

Swan Point Cemetery is a well known walking site. Many do not realize that there is actually a three quarter of a mile trail here that runs along the Seekonk River. The trail starts at Swan Point (proper) at the end of River Road. This road is a locally named road part of the cemetery layout and not the River Road that is by Blackstone Park. From Swan Point, you can follow the trail north with the river to the right and a high hill to the left. The trail comes to another road at about two tenths of a mile. Continuing ahead the trail will pass a small grove of mountain laurel before it eventually ends at a cul-de-sac at Stony Point. The second section can be a bit muddy at times. From here retrace your steps back to Swan Point.

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Along The Swan Point River Trail

Sycamore Landing – Lincoln

 

This small property wedged between the Blackstone River and the bike path is the home to The Blackstone River Watershed Council. Yesteryear it served as a dump for a nearby mill and later a scrap yard for automobiles. Over several years the volunteers have steadily cleaned up the site and made improvements to bring it back to a near natural state and to offer the land for passive recreation. A short network of trails have recently been blazed here as well. Though a short hike, it offers stunning and sweeping up close views of the Blackstone River. Starting from the parking area below the bike path parking lots walk toward the split rail fence. Just before the fence turn to the left and follow the path. You will soon see red blazes. The red blaze trail follows the shore of the river offering several spots to take in the great views. Along the way be on the look out for the massive and towering sycamore tree that gives this property its name. At the southern end of the property the red trail turns to the right and loops back to the north following a row of utility poles. Soon there will be a trail intersection. To the right is the blue blazed trail. Turn right here and follow this trail through the interior of the property. You will soon find yourself within a predominantly locust shaded meadow. The blue trail continues ahead to the left of the red building upon the hill. The trail then turns to the left into a grassy area behind the Watershed Council Building. After passing the building stay to the right to get to the parking area. Take your time here while visiting. You will see evidence of beaver activity or might catch a glimpse of deer or turkey. Geese and ducks were also observed here. For information about the Watershed Council and the Friends of The Blackstone click here!

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The Blackstone River

Mercy Woods – Cumberland

 

The Town of Cumberland recently purchased 229 of the 243 acres of the Sisters of Mercy property for conservation and passive recreation. With the help of the Cumberland Land Trust, the Rhode Island Land Trust Council, and volunteers, Mercy Woods has become not only one of the newest trail systems, but handily one of the most beautiful in Rhode Island. The nearly six miles of trails are well blazed and mapped. For this hike, I led a group, following the Perimeter Walk, from the Sumner Brown Road parking area just off of Route 121. We crossed the road to follow the yellow blazed Mercy Loop. After crossing a field and passing a gate we were onto the trail. The trail winds pass the red blaze trail and turns to the east where it intersects with the blue blazed Ridge Trail. Look towards the right here just before the blue trail. Up on the hill is a pile of rocks, possibly a cairn or an impressive “balance artwork”. Following the blue blazes of the aptly named Ridge Trail for the next two miles leads you up and down some impressive hills, crossing a few streams, passing several stone walls, winding by large boulders and outcrops, along a ridge, and through a forest floor of ferns. The trail intersects with four red blazed trails (Stone Wall, Fisher, Fern, and Fiske) and crosses Sumner Brown Road. For this hike, we followed the blue blazes to their terminus at the Mercy Loop. The Warner Trail also joins the Ridge Trail for a bit. You will see a few white circle blazes along the way marking the long distance trail. When we reached the yellow blazes once again we turned left. Keep an eye out for the blazes as there are two trails to the left (one being not blazed). The remainder of the hike winds through the woods at the southern end of the property, passing through an open field, by power lines, then crosses Highland View Road before the final stretch that leads you back to the parking area.

 

Map can be found at: Mercy Woods.

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Along The Mercy Loop

Mumford Riverwalk – Northbridge

 

This riverwalk, about seven tenths of a mile one way, is a pathway that meanders between Linwood Avenue and the Mumford River at Linwood Pond. The trail is covered in pine needles as it winds up and over small hills along the waterfront. Birds are quite abundant here especially water foul. Parking is available about midway along the trail or at the north end opposite Lasell Field.

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Along the Mumford Riverwalk