Hopedale Parklands and Heritage Corridor Chat

Hopedale Parklands on a misty autumn morning

We visited the Hopedale Parklands on a misty morning to record a “Corridor Chat” with folks from the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. We were talking about Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are, and tips found in the book to help you have a safer, more positive experience spending time outdoors. Here’s the final 10 minute video: https://youtu.be/NwLnKLFJvJk

Bonnie Combs manned the camera, while Beth and Paul Milke came along to provide company, fun, and bird identification along the way

Heritage Corridor Marketing director Bonnie Combs and volunteers Beth and Paul Milke joined us for this outing, taking our time, enjoying the foliage, and listening for birds. Beth and Paul lead bird walks for the Heritage Corridor.

The Draper Mill, viewed from the Parklands, was once an essential economic engine in Hopedale. It now stands empty, and a portion was being torn down the day of our visit

We talked about the history of the parklands, a town-owned property set aside for the community over 100 years ago. The Draper Mill stood at the southern end of the pond, but during our visit, a substantial portion of the mill was being torn down. We later learned that parts of the mill will remain. What was once a vibrant economic engine in Hopedale continues to stand as a silent witness to the changing landscape of New England and its part in industrial revolution. The revolution continues to change, but it is difficult to know what that future will entail.

Muted fall colors in the mist at Hopedale Parklands

One local walking group passed by as we started out, otherwise we saw at most two, maybe three other walkers in the two hours we wandered the paths. The presence of mist led right into talking about a great strategy to #avoidcrowds– head out on rainy or misty (or snowy!) days. You will most likely have the trail all to yourself.

A fine example of poison ivy roots

As we walked we searched for examples of poison ivy–as the leaves drop off, those hairy roots are easier to spot and remain noxious.

Poison Ivy fall foliage (from a different location) in its full glory

The poison ivy leaves at the Parklands were pretty shriveled up, but we found a great example of the hairy roots to could include in our recorded Corridor Chat.

The “yellow brick road” of leaves on the carriage road at Hopedale Parklands

Throughout our walk, the foliage was on display, but soon all that gorgeous color will be gone as we head into winter. Colder weather is still a great time to get outdoors, but learning to dress for the weather, and having boots that will keep your feet dry will become even more important as we move into winter.

Keeping our distance, yet enjoying each other’s company on the trail

With the pandemic continuing, the outdoors is still an important option for spending time with family and friends in a safe manner. Till late January, plan to wear blaze orange. Face masks can make a difference in keeping you healthy. And layers of clothing, including a wind breaker/raincoat, worn over your winter jacket, will help you stay more comfortable. Mittens, not gloves, will keep your hands warmer.

Lots more outdoor information is included in the book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Plan on spending time outdoors this winter, and happy trails!


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy 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.

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