It’s getting too cool for us to venture out on our bike as fall settles in, so we headed out to explore to find a place to take in the foliage. Fall leaves have clung to their branches long past when we thought they’d be all gone. Our first stop had a huge public event going on, so we headed on our way and came across Stillwater Scenic Trail, in Smithfield RI.
We had been here on our bike over a year ago in the summer, so this visit offered a very different view. Our pace was slower (we were walking) and we took the time to poke around more and stroll down to the edge of the stream.
The sound of rushing water accompanied us for almost the entire walk, at least until we reached the dammed reservoir. I never grow tired of the sound of rushing water tumbling over rocks, headed to the sea. The Stillwater River is part of the Woonsaquatucket River watershed.
The waters that flow past the path we walked on eventually end up in downtown Providence as part of the Providence River, before heading into Narragansett Bay. The more I walk, the more I see watersheds. Understanding how these waterways connect is fascinating (to me) and these waterways have strong impacts on the environment we all live in.
We spotted a small garter snake sunning himself on the path. I used a stick to urge him out of the path, but he was pretty determined not to go far, and puffed himself up hoping to frighten us.
Seeing its transformation in an instant from pencil thin stick-like creature to an almost kaleidoscope circular pattern was startling, and beautiful.
We met mostly dog walkers as we strolled. This is a short, one mile path, so a two mile round trip visit is about what you can count on, unless you choose to make more than one circuit of the trail.
The path was created by utilities as a right of way, so it is wide, relatively flat, and in good repair. We found several benches along the way which provided rest stops for me. Turns out I had strained some leg muscles the day before, so benches and rocks to rest on were welcome.
Some foliage remains even as I write, but it will soon be gone. The days grow shorter, and winter will soon be here. Enjoy the time, make plans to get out, bring along a friend or loved one. Easy Walks lend themselves to easy companionship on the way.
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.