We recently visited River Bend Farm in Uxbridge, MA, a state park and in the Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park. We planned to walk along the one-mile section of restored tow path that follows the route of the historic Blackstone Canal, built to transport goods from Worcester, MA through the canal to Pawtucket, RI. I describe this walk as “handicapped friendly” since there are no steps to navigate in crossing the bridge from the parking area and visitor center over to the tow path. The path itself is packed gravel, which offers safe footing.
One of the challenges of creating a TV series of Finding Easy Walks is that the path needs to be smooth not only for me, but also for my intrepid cameraman Tyler McMinnaman, of ABMI Cable 8, who has to keep his eye on me as we walk, and not so much on his own footing. And thus the trails we have visited are for the most part ADA accessible, promising safe footing as he follows me along for our taping on the trail. For the finished show, Tyler was able to locate some illustrations to include of a canal in action, with a boat being towed by a young boy guiding his horse along the tow path.
Natural history as well as industrial history abounds in this area, and as soon as we stepped onto the tow path we spotted a Great Blue Heron hunting for breakfast along the banks of the canal. These hunts sometimes last over an extended period, but we were able to see him successfully nab a fish on his first attempt. A great start on his breakfast.
We walked to the northern end of the restored tow path to enjoy the stone bridges that support Hartford Avenue as it crosses the river and canal.
We turned and headed south to see if we could find turtles sunning themselves. It was a cool morning, but we did spot some turtles , one resting on a fallen tree trunk, and another resting on a rock sloping into the canal at the water’s edge.
Here’s the 23 minute video we created, complete with amazing drone footage of the area. Enjoy, and 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. The newest book is 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.