We looked for a smaller place to walk that might have fewer visitors to avoid in this time of physical distancing. While intending to head to one destination, we passed the small parking area on Rt. 122 in Uxbridge, Skull Rock Lock, south of the town center, that offered access to the Blackstone River. No one else was there. Just what we were looking for.
This spot has trails on both sides of Rt. 122, but we stayed on the side where the parking lot is. Across the street from the parking area is a solid guard rail, making it challenging to get to the trail on that side. Right next to the highway at the edge of the parking area is a canoe put in, but for us, this was a walking, not paddling day. We learned from the informational kiosk that the lock that gave the location its name is actually a short distance downstream from the parking area, most easily reached from the river. Perhaps another time.
A clear, packed dirt trail headed away from the road, so despite the ups and downs of the trail (caused by multiple dirt bikes) we made our way along the path
and found a nice river access spot next to a train trestle bridge.
Farther along we spotted some impressive poison ivy vines (hairy roots–do not touch!)
and a sycamore tree that in years past had been nearly toppled. Clearly the tree persevered, producing a strange twisted shape, unusual for sycamores.
Another clearing offered some great views of the Blackstone River, plus lots of signs of beaver activity. Numerous spots along the way revealed fresh beaver chews, as well as a spot where the beaver clearly entered and exited the river.
We encountered several other families during our visit, but everyone on the trail was respectful and carefully provided space for the others in the area. We were grateful for this. The trail is not marked, and some access points to the river required some bushwhacking. And yes, despite performing tick checks when we returned home, and putting our clothes in the dryer for 20 minutes, I still found a tick on my wrist later in the day. Take care, and happy trails!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, Easy 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.