Staying close to home: Fort Nature Refuge


Beaver pond at Fort Nature Refuge

We decided to stay close to home when we ventured out a few days ago. Searches in nearby towns turned up Fort Nature reserved in North Smithfield, RI, a short drive from our home just on the other side of the border in Massachsetts. This small (235 acre) property offers some nice variety of outdoor experiences. But you will find no forts here–the name refers to the Fort family, which donated the property to be kept as open space.


Wide trails offer opportunities for easy walks with friends and family

Wide trails indicate that the property was former farmland, and the paths were evidently farm tracks, so walking with others is comfortable, and the trail is an easy loop, under two miles in length. Additional trails cut across the adjacent power lines, offering opportunities for longer walks for those interested in exploring more of the area.


Stream runs underneath the path, headed for the beaver pond

We found lots to enjoy on our visit. Small streams cut across the trails.


Beaver dam helps create the pond that is the headwaters of the Woonsquatucket River

A beaver dam, and tree trunks chewed by beavers, offer points of interest along the trail. We saw very little sign of any stone walls, except in one spot, which made me wonder if any walls that had been built in years past had been robbed of their rocks for other building projects.


Decaying tree stump leaves a pocket next to the stump, which will one day show a simple pillow and hollow in the woods where the uprooted tree once stood

As we strolled on the path, we noticed decaying tree stumps, and the hollows next to the stumps, where tree roots had been ripped from the ground in a wind storm.


Stone culvert keeps the path dry as the stream flows toward the beaver pond

We also found stone culverts created to keep farm paths from flooding when the area was part of a working farm.

This property, which protects the headwaters of the Woonsquatucket River, is overseen by RI Audubon, but no fee is required when visiting. Happy Trails!


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

beech cliffs 2018


Filed under Blog posts--Easy Walks

2 responses to “Staying close to home: Fort Nature Refuge

  1. Mary Tonks

    WordPress isn’t allowing me to like any posts lately, for some weird reason. I did like this, as it’s a nice woodsy trail nearby. Thank you!

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