The trails to Hanging Rock wind through the Bradner Preserve, maintained by the Richmond Rural Preservation Land Trust in southern Rhode Island. The 63-acre preserve is one of several wild places in the rural community; the others are featured on the Richmond Conservation Commissions website.
The canopy here is varied, dominated by American beech, oak and white pines with many yellow birches and some hickory. All but the beech and pine tress have dropped their leaves, so you can see though the woods for a long way off. Over the weekend, we spotted four deer running about 100 yards away in the middle of the day.
Throughout the preserve, old stone walls say the land was farmed, probably for livestock, because the land is much too rough for a plow.
From a little parking area on Gardiner Road, take the blue trail though a grove of immature beech trees and over a rocky spot that demands attention. The trail turns to the right here. Soon after, you can continue straight ahead on blue or turn onto the yellow trail which re-joins the blue trail just before Hanging Rock.
The blue trail has two sturdy bridges over streams that must be crossed. The yellow trail has one short bridge and requires a stream crossing. This time of year, with extremely low water, the crossing is easy, but when spring comes, it may be difficult.
Just up the hill from the stream, turn right onto the blue trail, and look up to see Hanging Rock. An “erratic” left by the great glacier, Hanging Rock rests atop a massive outcrop. The trail loops around it.
Though the trails of the Bradner Preserve are too rough for a stroller, they are ideal for a family walk with children;
For a trail map, click here.
To find more places to hike and paddle in Rhode Island, visit ExploreRI.org.
- New bridge completes Grills trails in Westerly & Hopkinton #RI (outdoorlivingne.com)
- Carter Preserve tells a great glacier and nature story (outdoorlivingne.com)