We walked alongside the Blackstone River the day prior to this walk and got views of the river at near flood level, more what we would expect in spring than in late December. But we also encountered more visitors than we wished. Perhaps for this outing a town-owned property with limited parking might offer the solitude we craved? Handy Pond, (actually Rochambeau Pond, according to a reliable source) along Old River Road in Lincoln, RI was our pick, a first visit to what turned out to be an extended trail network through woodland, with views of the pond, as well as several stream crossings.
The rain of Christmas day washed away not only the snow on the ground, it also cleared much of the ice that is often on trails this time of year, promising relatively ice-free footing. Our biggest challenge was figuring out where to go that was not filled with others looking for the same thing we were–some quiet time outdoors after being cooped up inside by the torrential rain.
We stopped at the pond next to the road, but found the dam that created the pond did not allow us to cross over to the woodland on the other side. We surprised a merganser pair as they nestled in the underbrush near the shoreline, but they were quick, heading to the far shore and more underbrush before I could grab our camera. A kingfisher cruised the pond edges throughout our visit, its distinctive call echoing across the water.
A short distance beyond where we first pulled of, we found parking for about four cars, and a trailhead. One other car was there, a hopeful indication we would not encounter many other visitors. We met in total two other couples during our entire visit. The wide clear trail with no ice in sight made me hopeful that we had found an Easy Walk.
The path we followed has been well maintained, with several bridges aiding our crossing over streams headed toward the pond. The water rushed underneath the small bridges with impressive power. The soundscape of rushing water always makes me stop to listen.
This is a relatively hilly area, with a lot of ups and downs. I was grateful for the foot bridges that were three boards wide, rather than the more typical two boards. Just this little bit extra width offers better footing for those of us with balance challenges.
We found one long stone wall leading down to the pond. We also came across a large stone outcrop overlooking the water below.
Because of the rain, parts of the trail held water, but the path was wide enough to get around most of the puddles. It was still a good thing we had worn waterproof winter boots.
We came across only one large tree blocking the trail, and with some effort were able to get me over the trunk and continue our walk. Not far from there we spotted newly cut wood from a tree that had been blocking the trial. We guessed this latest tree may have fallen during the Christmas deluge of just a day or so before.
We look forward to returning to explore additional trails on this property on another visit. Like another property we visited nearby Cumberland, the woods here are all hardwood, with a very few cedars, but no white pines. The hilly landscape will mean when ice is on the trail this will not be a good choice in winter unless visitors wear ice cleats of some sort or snow shoes.
A beaver left signs of his work near the north end of the pond, but we did not spot him on this visit. Perhaps another time. 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.