I had heard of a new section of railtrail at Coldspring Park, off Harris Avenue in Woonsocket, but last we looked, it was not obvious where the trail might be. When we stopped by today, it was easy to find the trail, and quite easy to walk alongside the river for about a half mile, all the way to the Massachusetts line.
The Blackstone River Bikeway has been in existence from Woonsocket south to Lincoln for a number of years. North of Woonsocket, the completed Bikeway travels from Blackstone to Uxbridge. But the two trails presently do not connect, except by traveling through congested city traffic in downtown Woonsocket.
While this new section of railtrail still does not link the two longer trails, it is a big step to bringing the trails together, getting closer to making the north-south connection that is still in the works.
The trail offers river views for the entire way, along with an attractive bridge over the Blackstone River just south of the MA border.
As we walked, we startled a group of turkey vultures,
perhaps fifty or more of the big birds, which rose up from a nearby industrial building and began circling over the river.
Nearing the bridge, we spotted a great blue heron settle into the top branches of a tree next to the river. The rain was keeping lots of us hunkered down, but while we walked the rain let up and the sun did its best to peek out from behind the clouds.
We reached the end of the new trail in its present configuration, but as we looked just beyond the trail, we spotted a steep embankment just north of us. A quick check on our phone with Google earth confirmed that the SNETT trail was just ahead of us–that east-west railtrail that will someday intersect with the north-south Blackstone River bikeway. The two trails are now in sight of each other!
A lot of work remains for the connections between the trails to become a reality, but it has been talked about for years. It is exciting to realize that this newest section of railtrail, while not everything we are hoping for, is bringing the dreams of many one step closer to becoming a reality.
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then