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.

Carter Preserve tells a great glacier and nature story

carter erratic with plantsThe Nature Conservancy’s Francis C. Carter Memorial Preserve in Charlestown, RI is a natural wonder.

carter oak signEncompassing 841 acres, this is the Rhode Island Chapter’s second largest nature preserve. It straddles the rocky uplands of the Charlestown moraine and the sandy floodplain of the Pawcatuck River, the property supports a variety of natural communities, most notably are pitch pine/scrub oak barrens, vernal pools, and a 35-acre grassland.

If you park in the lot off Carolina Back Road (Route 112), the 1.3-mile Yellow Trail will soon take you to an observation deck overlooking a vernal pool. Empty now, the area is surrounded by colorful maples.

carter observation deckMy Brittany, Penny, and I turned off onto the Red Trail. What a treat! The woods tell the story of the great glacier as it covered and then receded over the region. The boulders are nature’s sculpture. Erratics, as they’re called, he enormous stones weer tossed about throughout the region, and today, trees and ferns spout from many of them, along with colorful lichens and mosses.

We turned left on the 1.5-mile Blue Trail to take a short cut back to the Yellow Train and our truck. Much of the trail was rocky, but the footing was pretty easy except for one tiny bit of rock, covered by some slippery leaves. (Most f the trails are not suitable for wheelchairs or strollers, however, a young dad was there with two children, one of them in a stroller, so it can be done.)

carter blueberriesThere was plenty of autumn color in the trees and along the ground. A stand of high-bush blueberries was aflame in autumn red.

If you go, wear a blaze-orange hat or vest, to be visible during archery deer hunting season.

Depending on the trails you choose, the Francis C. Carter Memorial Preserve can offer an hour to a full day of exploring.

For a map of the Carter Preserve, click here. (It may take a while to load.) For driving directions, click here.