What a strange winter we have had in southern New England. Snow (expected) followed quickly by rain (not so nice) since the rain turned everything into heavy, ice-filled landscape. And then we received almost fourteen inches of snow overnight–a joy to see, but it was so deep (for me) and soon crusted over. Thoughts of outings in deep, crusty snow were not very appealing for me, and those of us who have balance issues.
But that last big snow storm has been steadily melting, exposing the landscape. And my crocuses are now croaking with joy in the nearly spring sunshine! Silver Lake is opening up, with less ice remaining each day. I hear multiple red-winged blackbirds, their metallic croakings filling the air.
We got out in the sunshine this weekend to two very local railtrails, and found both of them quite walkable. Granted, ice still fills the woodlands, but the trails themselves offered easy walking. The remaining ice was mushy and easy to clomp through.
We headed out close to home, starting on Lake Street in Bellingham, to walk on the higher section of the SNETT (Southern New England Trunkline Trail) between Lake and Center Streets. In swing season times, it really helps to have walked on the trails in the past. We knew this section of trail, packed stonedust, is high, with no chance of having pooled water or mud.
What a joy to get out and stretch in the sunshine and not fear sliding and crashing on ice. We walked all the way to Center Street, then turned back, about a two mile round trip. The sight of blue sky and white, puffy clouds fills my heart, and tells me–get outside!
The biggest challenge on this walk was crossing Lake Street–the sight lines are limited when attempting to cross from the parking area to across the street. Traffic whizzes by, often going at least 40 MPH. As we returned from our walk, the police had pulled someone over right near the cross walk on Lake Street. I hope it was for speeding, and double hope it means one less person who speeds down the street in this section of the road.
We headed to the Blackstone River Bikeway, also nearby, the following day. Rather than start in Woonsocket, we headed just a little south into Lincoln, RI on Old River Road, at the end of which is another parking area along the bikeway. It is also where you can access the headquarters for the Blackstone River Watershed Council’s building and canoe launch.
From this parking area it is a short walk (less than a quarter mile) north to one of the multiple dams along the river. We stopped to enjoy the sounds of the thundering water over the dam, then returned and headed south,
to a particularly beautiful stretch of the Blackstone River. We also found a small culvert allowing for spring melt to enter the river from upland adjacent to the river.
Again, we saw limited ice along the very edges of the bike path, but otherwise, mostly clear pathway the entire distance we walked. A few bikes passed us, and one or two walkers. On a bright, sunny, cold, almost spring afternoon, the path was nearly deserted. As warmer weather arrives, this will change, for sure.
Spring is coming–happy trails!
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.