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