We often study maps prior to heading outside, and this trip was no exception. But it turns out that best laid plans still go awry. As we traveled on some unfamiliar roads we completely missed our original goal, of Black Hut Wildlife management area, in Burrillville. Instead, we overshot and ended up at Buck Hill Wildlife Management area, also in Burrillville, RI.
Visiting new areas offers interest, but also challenge. Where is the parking? What will the trails be like? Will I be able to navigate the trails? Will my nearly paralyzed right ankle be able to navigate the trails we encounter? Lots of rocks and roots on trails make these types of trails very difficult for me to use.
We found a fire road into the property, with a large parking area and only a few cars parked near the trailhead. Donning our cloth face masks, which mostly protect others from us if we are forced to encounter them, we headed out to investigate.
The wide fire road continued past the locked gates, and an access path allowed us to bypass the gates easily. We encountered few other visitors while we were on the trail, and managed to make way for them when we met up. They offered the same courtesies to us.
A small stream crossed under the path through a culvert, and offered some great views of beaver activity–lots of beaver activity.
Just above the stream was a rise that looked quite like a dam structure. We followed the path next to the stream and found a scenic lake, with a beaver lodge in the water away from the shoreline.
Dead trees had washed up next to the shoreline, creating the sense of being at the ocean and encountering driftwood on the shore. We stopped and had a snack and enjoyed the view.
Continuing through the woods, we stumbled upon a small snake that froze, allowing us a couple of nice pictures of him. Moving on, we left him to find his way wherever he was headed.
The trail became rockier as we headed uphill, and eventually we turned around, hearing from some fellow travelers that the fire road ahead was filled with water and not easily passable. I grow frustrated at the limitations I live with, unable to feel safe on these rocky trails.
And yet, if I had simply come and spent time at the shoreline of the pond here, it would have been enough for me. That and all the beaver signs.
And the increasing green all around us. If we were lucky and waited long enough, we might have even seen the beaver getting back to work. A return trip when the trails are drier is a possibility. Please be safe, and 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. 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.