We had driven past the trail kiosk for the Blackall Family Preserve in Cumberland, RI a number of times, but had no real idea if we would find any Easy Walks in this area. Many trails in Cumberland are quite rocky. This one might have been too. But “Be willing to explore,” is a strategy for finding Easy Walks I urge my readers to adopt. Following on this is, “Have a plan B.”
What we found when set out was well-maintained paths, which were extremely well marked, and lots of stone walls throughout the property. Two separate ponds offered some lovely water views, reflecting the fall foliage.
It took a while before I realized we were only seeing foliage–no evergreens in sight in the entire area we walked through. The woodland felt quite open, with not nearly as much undergrowth as we are accustomed to seeing in our visits to other wooded trails. This meant we saw (and heard) many more birds that we often do on a trail walk.
To our surprise, we met a total of two other people on the trail during our entire two+ hour visit to the Blackall Family preserve. We could have spent more time, and explored additional trails that were indicated on the map we downloaded from the Cumberland Land Trust site. But shadows were lengthening, and sundown comes early this time of year. The property is close enough to home we can easily return for another visit to do more exploring another day.
A number of sections of trail were quite wide, giving us the sense these were former cart paths through the farm. We spotted evidence of storm damage, perhaps from some of the recent storms the area experienced in the past month. Kudos to the Cumberland Land Trust trail maintainers, who were out recently clearing trees and making sure trails remained passable.
One blown over tree revealed that the tree had grown right on top of a large rock. Its roots were shallow, so when a storm came through, the tree blew right over, revealing the underside of the tree, as well as the flaky rock hidden underneath the tree roots for so many years.
We have more time to get outside on weekends, but so does everyone else, apparently. We have been challenged to put to use all the lessons we have learned to work to figure out how to #avoidcrowds and find places with footing I can feel safe venturing out on. We share these lessons and so much more in our newest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are.
We never know what we might find when we head out to explore, but I feel sure we will return to Blackall Preserve another time. Limited parking is available at the Old West Wrentham Road trail head, so my guess is that on another visit we will once again find few other visitors. 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: Finding the Sacred in Everyday (and some very strange) Places.
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.