Take a walk to Hanging Rock in Richmond #RI

hangin rock bridgeThe round-trip walk to Hanging Rock is less than two miles, but it’s a pretty good work-out with some ups and downs and a couple of spots that demand mindfulness.

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 hanging rock walk sign croppedleaves, 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.

hanging rockJust 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.

Mass. legislature mulls endangered species repeal

Lesser snakeroot/delawarewildflowers.org

Lesser snakeroot

The New England Wild Flower Society has issued a legislation alert for Massachusetts conservationists.

Next Monday, Nov. 4, the the legislature’s Joint Committee on Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture will hold a hearing that includes two bills that would result in a repeal of endangered species protections in the Commonwealth.

“Environmental groups and the business community alike have supported the standards the program currently uses to protect endangered species,” the group said in a statement. “The effort to gut endangered species protections is coming from a limited, but very vocal, few.

“We urge you to contact Chairman Pacheco and Chairwoman Gobi today – by phone, email, or mail – to ask them to protect endangered species and halt Senate Bill 345 and Senate Bill 411. In addition, you can let your own representative and senator know where you stand, and ask them to speak to the Chairs as well.

“Please alsoexpress your support for An Act Relative to the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act, H.756. We support this consensus bill, which would improve the Massachusetts Endangered Species Act rather than repeal it.”

Related articles

Halloween woodland critters teach kids without frightening them

Lids meet critters on Audubon's Halloween walks.

Kids meet friendly woodland critters on Audubon’s Halloween walks.

Join the Audubon Society of Rhode Island Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Caratunk Wildlife Refuge in Seekonk, MA, for a fright-free celebration of Halloween – Mother Nature style.

Bundle up and rustle through the leaves on a guided lantern-lit hike in the cool night forest.  Families encounter costumed woodland creatures that explore the myths, legends, and creatures associated with Halloween. Fun-filled and fright-free, these walks are a great alternative to the usual haunted happenings. Audubon’s woodland characters are friendly and fun, perfect for young children and the whole family.

Walks will begin at 5:30 p.m., with groups of 15 going off every 10 minutes. Registration is required to reserve a time. Refreshments, children’s activities, and a special treat await your return. Spaces are limited, so make your reservation today. REGISTER HERE or call 401-949-5454.

In the event of rain, the fun will be moved into the Caratunk barn, completely transformed for fall with pumpkins, hay and lanterns.

It’s Walktober in The Last Green Valley

Farmers Market at the Nathan Hale Homestead

Farmers Market at the Nathan Hale Homestead

It’s Walktober, a celebration of The Last Green Valley, in southern Massachusetts and eastern Connecticut, along the  Rhode Island border.

The 23rd edition of Walktober features scores of walks and paddle trips among natural wonders and important historical sites from Sturbridge, MA to Griswold, CT.

Sunday, we visited the Coventry CT Farmers Market at the Nathan Hale Homestead (pictured above), and walked around a bit through the rain. It was wet and muddy, but several children had a blast in the puddles. (And the farmers market was wonderful.)

Walktober includes 106 walks, hikes, paddles and bike rides as well as 36 events that highlight the cultural, historic or natural resources of The Last Green Valley.  The Walktober Calendar labels each walk as easy, moderate, or difficult. Many offerings are geared specifically for families with children. The family dog is welcome at pet-friendly walks. Adventurers will enjoy 13 paddles and three bike rides included in this year’s schedule. To download the schedule as a PDF file, click here.

Walktober is such a gift!

Sparkling span links Grills trails

Grills bridge

The Grills Sanctuary in Hopkinton RI and the Grills Preserve in Westerly RI offer some lovely walks in a variety of habitats. Now, a sparkling steel bridge over the Pawcatuck River connects them, offering lots of hiking opportunities..

Grills flowersBoth properties are owned and maintained by land trusts in their communities, and August is Land Trusts Month.

The Grills Preserve, owned by the Westerly Land Trust, has more than 500 acres with over two-and-a-half miles of frontage on the Pawcatuck River. There is a large parking lot with an information kiosk at the end of Bowling Lane, off Route 91 in the village of Bradford.

The Gruills Sanctuary, owned by the Hopkinton Land Trust, is smaller, but equally beautiful. The entrance is on Chase Hill Road, at the intersection with Route 216.

Earlier this summer, the land trusts celebrated the opening of the new Polly Coon Bridge, a narrow, steel span over a  usually sleepy stretch of the Pawcatuck. (In June, with record rainfall, the river roared.

The bridge is hard to find from the Hopkinton side. Follow the white-blazed Tomaquag Trail that starts in a farm field near the parking lot. (Note the cool stone bridge over Wine Bottle Brook.) Turn right onto the red blazed trail and follow that to the end, and then turn right and follow the trail to the bridge.

Grills trailFrom the parking lot at the end of Bowling Lane in Bradford, take the red- and blue-blazed trail to the right of the kiosk. Take the first right onto the blue trail and follow it over two small bridges for about 25- to 30-minutes. When the blazes end, keep going along the river, and you will find the shiny new bridge on the right.

Most of the trails offer easy footing, but they are too rough for a wheelchair or stroller. You can easily, and enjoyably, spend a whole day in the two properties. The sanctuary on the Hopkinton side, has lots of beautiful benches along the trails, and picnic tables near the parking lot.

Rhode Island has 48 trusts that belong to the state’s land trusts council, and most of them offer recreational opportunities for families. During Land Trust Days, through the end of September, there will be more than 60 guided walks on land managed by trusts and the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.

For maps and information, visit ExploreRI.org.