In a time when we have felt so closed in by the pandemic, it has been a blessing that, at least near where I live, the trails have been for the most part ice free. We have enjoyed several very Easy Walks recently, one of which was to return to Hopedale Parklands with Tyler, our ace camera guy from ABMI Cable 8, and my hiking friend Linda. Watch the 16 minute video of our walk here.
These Cable TV walks are simple affairs, following along as we walk and talk. Perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea, but hopefully of interest to those who may have a harder time getting outside right now, or who want to pick up some interesting information along the way as we walk and talk. I try to notice small details of what we see as we go, either a simple view from various spots along the trail,
the cool rock formations that are on the edge of many of our walks, or whatever else catches our eye.
Hopedale Parklands is one of the “park nodes” of the Blackstone River Valley National Historic Park. This distinctive national park is a great resource in our community. Hopedale Parklands and the nearby Little Red Shop, facing onto the pond, and across the street from Draper Mill, are important places that help tell the story of the industrial Revolution. I am an enthusiastic volunteer (VIP) for the Blackstone Heritage Corridor (BHC), the non-profit organization that provides support services that complement the work of the park.
Hopedale Parklands is a hidden gem in the community that appears to be better known than in years past. We visited on a holiday, and were surprised at the number of other visitors on the trails. Thankfully, the carriage paths around Hopedale Pond are wide, making it much easier to #avoidcrowds than woodland trails that are typically narrow. I love that visitors can enjoy water views of the pond almost the entire way around the trail. Even in cold weather, we spotted parts of the pond that were open, and mallard ducks hung out on the edge of the ice, flying off as we watched.
I have found the Parklands to be particularly kid-friendly, with bedrock along that trail that offers natural slides for children to climber on and slide down. The trees throughout the area, having the appearance of a natural woodland, were actually well-planned over one hundred years ago, mapped out and planted by the designers of the park with the intention that the plantings were naturalize and become what they are today, and beautiful place to spend time in the outdoors.
The park has a number of stone bridges, culverts allowing small streams in the area to flow into the pond. These culverts were designed by the park’s architects and add a rustic beauty to the area. The day we visited, water was flowing in a tiny cascade underneath one of the small stone bridges, headed to Hopedale Pond.
I have found “walking and talking” to be the best way for me to get to know new friends. I have known Linda, who joined me on this walk (and is also a VIP for the BHC) but by simply spending time together on a (socially distanced and masked) walk, we shared stories of family, experiences in the outdoors, and pointed out to each other things we noticed along the trail. This is one way friendships are truly made. It’s what works for me. Here’s hoping you are finding ways to get outside when you can, and staying safe. 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: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.