During the height of the pandemic we avoided our local rail trails because this is where everyone else was. As the rates of infection have eased and more have gotten vaccinated, we have felt safer returning to our nearby rail trails, and they are less crowded. We recently headed to Lincoln, RI to peddle along the banks of the Blackstone River on the Blackstone Bikeway. To find all the parking areas along the Blackstone Bikeway, plus so much more int he valley, be sure to check out this new on line intereactive map. The Blackstone Heritage Corridor has done an amazing job helping make us aware of all that is going on in the valley. I am lucky to be a volunteer with this great organization.
As warmer weather sets in, our family turns to our adaptive tandem to help me get outdoors safely. Neuro challenges keep me from sweating–a very unappreciated life skill! Riding along on the back of our tandem allows me to enjoy the outdoors and worry less that my legs will stop working in the heat of summer.
It was wonderful to return to enjoy the views along the ulitple dams along this stretch of river. We got as far south as the Pratt dam, and then turned back, went past the Kelly house, past the Albion dam and the Manville dam.
Many of these sections of rail trail were being repaired last year, another reason we headed elsewhere. For now, the trail is in excellent shape, a joy to travel along.
We spent about two hours peddling and stopping to enjoy the views along the various dams along the way. We still do not feel like life is back to normal, but are enjoying returning to familiar haunts that had not felt ok to visit in the past year.
I expect many who were out on trails last year will find lots of other things to do with their time, but perhaps some of those who walked these local trails have come to understand how important it is to have safe, beautiful open space, especially a rail trail with river views.
Portions of the old Blackstone Canal remain, a reminder of the many ways this river (and many others) have provided osurces of power for mills that were built in this area. They are all part of the story of the industrial revolution. The day of our visit the river flowed quietly, the mills now mostly abandoned, torn down, or transformed into housing and other purposes. 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. To find Easy Walks for yourself, be sure to pick up her newest 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.