When we last visited this area, the state of RI was working on two bridges over the Moosup River in Coventry, RI. The bridge will eventually help connect this area to the popular Trestle Trail, although that day may be far in the future. We headed down Lewis Farm Road and found a place to park across the street from the closed section of the trail, where the bridge work is nearing completion.
Memorial Day Weekend is typically a busy time, with lots of travel, the start of the summer season. But this year has been anything but typical. All RI state beaches are closed as the state continues to work to suppress the Covid-19 virus. No Memorial Day parades. Instead, locally we had very small, quiet remembrance ceremonies, actually much more in keeping with the original intent of the day set aside to remember those who died defending our country.
For much of the weekend it was overcast, even rainy. The sun came out in full force on Sunday, and we headed out, hoping we’d gotten started early enough to avoid crowded trails. As we often do, we headed in one direction and were open to exploring.
This day turned into an extended explore, in the area of the Moosup River, along the border of RI and CT.
Opposite the area of construction, where we parked, is an unfinished section of trail that was pretty walkable, although we found some substantial puddles that required climbing up an embankment to get past. Rocks of various sizes remain on the path, and in one section ballast remains from the path’s railroading days, offering a somewhat unstable surface.
Small ditches on either side of the trail provided a place for water to go, and a culvert under the path funneled water into what became a stream that headed off into the woods in the direction of the nearby Moosup River.
Along the trail were cut stone retaining walls holding back the soil where the train line was cut through large open farm fields to make way for the train line. We spotted huge skunk cabbage plants, wood violets growing next to the stream, and even a small frog that we surprised. He hopped into the large puddle in the trail, and soon burrowed under the stones at the bottom of the water. We turned around when we hit the next road crossing at Hopkins Hollow Road.
The day offered a cool breeze, which helped keep mosquitos down. Because of the wetness of the area, this section of trail is likely to be prone to harbor mosquitos throughout the summer, but we were bothered very little by them during our visit.
While the area under construction is blocked to the public, we were able to see through the fence that the nearby bridge is essentially finished, waiting only for the final paving to complete this section of trail.
RIDOT reports that the paving is to be completed under a separate contract, so we will have to check out the area another time to see what has happened.
After our walk, we explored the area further and found another pretty view of the Moosup River, a little upstream from the bridge construction. We ate our simple lunch there, overlooking the Moosup river, enjoying the antics of water striders and other bugs that skimmed over the surface of the slow-flowing river. A quiet day outside, which was exactly what we had hoped for.
As we drove on the dirt roads in the area, we noted rectangular blue trail markings on trees, and wondered what trail system these might be guiding travelers on. We found our answer later during our explore, when we stumbled across a designated parking area (with a sign!)
noting we had encountered a portion of the North-South Trail, which starts (or ends, depending on your perspective) at the Buck Hill Wildlife Management area in Burrillville, RI. at the MA line, and heads south, through Coventry, quite near the Connecticut line, till it reaches the Atlantic Ocean in Charlestown, RI. Mystery of the trail marks solved!
The area of Connecticut, just over the state line from where we walked is sometimes called the “Quiet Corner” , and the area we traveled in lived up to this name. We encountered few people during our exploring, and the several dirt bikes that passed our way ignored us and headed on their way into the woods.
We later drove to the western end of the Trestle Trail that is completed so far, at Old Summit road, and noted that while someone has brushed out the trail somewhat beyond there, the trail is not in great shape for bikes, other than mountain bikes. The finished bike path had parking lots filled with cars, so it turned out that our choice of heading farther west, on unfinished trails, was a good one. 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.