Great Swamp Botanizing Walk on the First Day of Spring 2022

On a sunny Sunday that was also the first day of spring, I led a RIWPS group on a walk in the wetlands of the Great Swamp. It had rained the day before and dense fog lingered into the morning.

Haile Farm Preserve, Warren RI

On the Trail – Garry Plunkett
WildforaRI, Spring 2020

Haile Farm’s historical narrative is a common one for coastal Rhode Island. A European family settled along rich coastal marshlands and raised livestock with hay from the salt meadows, supplemented by English hay planted on their upland meadows. The farm endured changing times into the 20th century when development slowly surrounded it. But there is a happy ending to this farm’s story because the Warren Land Conservation Trust has protected 61 acres of the original farm, including critically important estuarine and forested wetland habitats.

The preserve is off Route 136 in a busy commercial area, so a first-time visitor may need multiple GPS checks while weaving through warehouses and industrial construction to find the trailhead. The hike begins on a path rife with invasive plants, Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana), Asian bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), autumn-olive (Elaeagnus umbellate), mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), and Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii). It’s a familiar suite of despicables. But, like human relationships, first impressions can hide deeper meaningful qualities, and there is much to admire at Haile Farm behind this front door. The vegetation soon transitions to early successional woodland with a typical thicket of shrubs and pioneer trees such as quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) and gray birch (Betula populifolia). But the careful observer might notice an unusual species, a scattered stand of trees that are rogue to Rhode Island–boxelder (Acer negundo).

Boxelder is common almost everywhere in the Eastern U.S., except New England. Sometimes considered a weedy pest, it evolved as a flood plain tree, stabilizing soil on stream banks alongside other fast-growing species, silver maple (Acer saccharinum) and green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica). Once used for box-making, its leaf resembles that of our common elderberry, hence its name. Another common name is more appropriate–ash-leaf maple. It is indeed a maple tree, with typical helicopter-wing samara seeds, but with ash-like compound leaves.

Beyond the boxelder stand is a large pond on the right, residue from aborted development, but perhaps someday it will be a lovely aquatic system. A left turn at this point puts one on a green loop trail leading to the Palmer River estuary. This is where the upland woods change to a maritime shrubland transitional cover, then salt marsh. Like all ecotones, this one is rich in plant diversity, ideal for field botanists keying out species. Enter Doug McGrady, the Society’s plant wizard. Doug has compiled a comprehensive inventory of Haile Farm Preserve plants, and many interesting ones are in this area–ragged thoroughwort (Eupatorium pilosum), bushy bluestem (Andropogon glomeratus), yellow thistle (Cirsium horridulum), and white-fringed bog-orchid (Platanthera blephariglottis), the last two being state-threatened species.

The trail then winds through the shrubland to an opening where one’s vision is bathed in a wide-screen spectacle, birds winging across open skies over the salt marsh’s tawny blanket. And, as if fashioned by an artist, a lovely backdrop is formed by a “peninsula” of trees reaching out to the shoreline. A spur trail on this spit of upland leads across the marsh where one can be in a dry, oak-hickory barren, but with salt marsh nearby on two sides. The spur ends at the water’s edge where tidal zone plants can be explored, including maritime marsh-elder (Iva frutescens), American sea-rocket (Cakile edentula), sweet-scented camphorweed (Pluchea odorata), Carolina sea-lavender (Limonium carolinianum), and species glassworts (Salicornia spp.).

Backtracking to the green loop, it quickly intercepts a yellow mini-loop trail. This short sidetrack weaves under a power-line easement with another distinct plant community. Recent studies attribute significant environmental value to clear-cutting small areas within a mature forest. Resurgent growth in these “patch cuts” provides important habitat for many species under threat, notably woodland nesting neotropical songbirds. The studies consistently show that patch cutting in mature forests increases the number of woodland bird species, as well as the survival of their fledglings. Since National Grid periodically cuts trees in this easement, it serves as a perpetual patch habitat.

This patch features plants adapted to open, dry forest clearings such as sheep-laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), sweet-fern (Comptonia peregrina), little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), switch panicgrass (Panicum virgatum), black huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), and early successional trees, eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana), scrub oak (Quercus ilicifolia), gray birch (B. populifolia), and pitch pine (P. rigida).

Returning to the green loop, it enters a mature conifer-hardwood forest that is a jewel of the preserve. It’s also a splendid place to let one’s mind wander back in time, imagining what could have been two hundred years ago. The terrain is flat, lush, and relatively free of surface stones which probably were long ago put into stone walls now crisscrossing the woods. During the early days of Haile Farm this area may have been a fresh meadow, a moist plain along a stream that was ideal for the European cool season grasses planted by settlers. One can imagine a harvest crew rhythmically swinging scythes, slowly mowing their way across this meadow, laying up English hay for winter forage.

Judging from the tree sizes, haying or pasturing probably stopped about 100 years ago, after which natural succession slowly brought back a southern New England temperate forest. Henry David Thoreau was the first to observe and document this process, recording in his journal a pattern of changing vegetation on abandoned fields around Concord.

Successional dynamics have been exquisitely successful on this part of Haile Farm, producing a handsome canopy of oaks, tupelos, sassafras, hickories, and swamp maples that cover a diverse, multi-layered understory–chest-high cinnamon fern (Osmundastrum cinnamomeum), thickets of aromatic coastal sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), eastern shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis), and hazelnut, both American (Corylus americana) and beaked (C. cornuta). Wildflowers on the forest floor add color, including brilliant red cardinal-flower (Lobelia cardinalis) on a streamlet crossing the trail, soft hues of pink lady’s-slipper (Cypripedium acaule), and a delicate yellow of sessile-leaved bellwort (Uvularia sessilifolia). Meandering in the shade of this beautiful woodland is the perfect ending to a walk at Haile Farm.

As a newly preserved property, it is still rough around the edges. But progress is everywhere–removing invasive plants, installing bog bridges, and flagging new sections of trail. This should not deter you from sampling its varied habitats. Print the trail map from the Warren Land Conservation Trust website, as paper copies are not yet available at the trailhead kiosk. The trail described here is an easy 1.3-mile walk on flat terrain.

Like a well-written novel, Haile Farm’s drama builds slowly, but there is much to excite a broad range of interests, history, botany, ecology, or archeology. It’s also a great place to just “slip into something comfortable,” that is to say, be alone in the quiet of nature, gather thoughts, and recharge.


Francis C. Carter Memorial Preserve, Charlestown, RI

On the Trail – Laura Orabone
WildforaRI, Winter 2017 

The Francis C. Carter Memorial Preserve, located in Charlestown, is Rhode Island’s second-largest nature preserve and is maintained by the state’s chapter of The Nature Conservancy. This 1,112- acre property was acquired in 2001 with help from The Champlin Foundations, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and the Cove Point Foundation. The preserve is dedicated to Francis (“Frank”) C. Carter, who led the Champlin Foundations for many years.

The preserve encompasses an 11-mile corridor of open space between the glacial moraines of the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge to the mixed eastern woodlands and grasslands of the state-owned Carolina Management Area. It is easily accessible from two locations: one at its eastern edge off Rte. 112 (also called Carolina Back Road) and another to the west off Old Mill Road. Originally offering more than five miles of well-marked trails, it has recently been expanded; however, since the new trails have yet to be included on official maps of the property, this guide will cover only the original trails.

The Old Mill Road entrance provides two parking areas – one near the trailhead for cars and another large enough to accommodate horse trailers and a manual pump for watering horses. Note that the gravel road leading to the parking area is not always well-graded. Equestrian trails are marked. Near this parking area, and throughout the preserve, you can find pink lady slipper orchids (Cypripedium acaule) in early spring. The ruins of a cellar hole are barely visible to the left, just past the trailhead.

From this entrance, the Narragansett Trail takes visitors through stands of mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia), sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), black birch (Betula lenta), bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), mockernut hickory (Carya tomentosa), white oak (Quercus alba), white wood aster (Aster divaricatus), and eastern white pine (Pinus strobus). Other notable native plants include pipsissewa (Chimaphila umbellata), spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata), and partridge berry (Mitchella repens).

The Narragansett Trail provides an easy walk to a 35-acre grassland surrounded by pitch pine and quaking aspen. This area, cleared in 2008 with the cooperation of The Nature Conservancy, The National Audubon Society, and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, was recently expanded. It provides an important example of early successional habitat. Here you can see goldenrods, common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), and a variety of native grasses and sedges. The adjacent uplands feature scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea), white oak (Quercus alba), pitch pine (Pinus rigida), and high-bush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum).

On warm spring evenings, when the peepers are in full swing, you can watch woodcocks performing their aerial courtship displays. The area also provides a nesting area for the state-threatened grasshopper sparrow, as well as the eastern towhee, scarlet tanager, and prairie warbler. American kestrels, brown thrashers, blue-winged warblers, and dozens of other birds may be observed here. A complete list is provided at the trailhead.

Off the Narragansett Trail is the short White Trail loop on the right. Before you reach the field, you can take a trail to the left leading through mostly pitch and white pine woods, with the occasional tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera), eastern hemlock (Tsugacanadensis), and American holly (Ilex opaca). You may note an old chimney foundation here. This trail leads out to an open, sunny corridor created by a utility easement. The easement is home to lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), huckleberry (Gaylussacia spp.), sweet fern (Comptonia peregrina), and bird’s-foot violet (Viola pedata). Vernal ponds provide habitat for a variety of frogs and salamanders.

From the eastern trailhead off Carolina Back Road, you can explore the Yellow Trail and, if time permits, several other trails branching off from it. The Yellow Trail leads past a vernal pond to the right, then west through woodlands to the western trailhead off Old Mill Road. In the fall, small stands of witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) come into delicate bloom. The first left is the Split-Rock Trail, which follows a small loop before rejoining the Yellow Trail. The first right is the Red Trail, which meanders to the northeast and then curves back to the west through mixed hardwoods and pine, eventually joining the Blue Trail, which loops twice off the Yellow Trail.

Along both the Red and Blue Trails, there are several water features: trick- ling brooks, swamp areas dotted with skunk cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus), and a pond off to the northeast of a portion of the Blue Trail. The pond is barely visible through the trees, and there is a rough wooden bench at this point to rest and listen. Along the middle section of the Yellow Trail, note the mysterious cairns or “turtle rocks” that dot the gently rolling landscape. Their significance is unknown; some claim they were built by early colonial farmers clearing stones from fields, while others attribute them to the Narragansett people. Also of note are several impressive granite boulders left behind by retreating glaciers at the end of the last Ice Age. Many of these are thickly plastered with rock tripe and topped with lush layers of mosses and ferns.

The Francis C. Carter Memorial Preserve is ideal for both short hikes and longer excursions. Allow 45 minutes for each trail; however, the shorter loop trails are suitable for briefer jaunts, ideal for families with young children. Although the terrain is not generally rugged, a hiking stick can be a helpful thing to have for extra stability.

Observe the following guidelines:

  • Stay on the walking trails, using marked trails wherever they exist.
  • Respect the preserve’s open hours (one hour before sunrise to one hour after sun- set). Overnight camping is not allowed.
  • Do not use bikes or motorized vehicles in the preserve.
  • Do not disturb bird nesting areas.
  • Do not remove any living materials or disturb any vegetation.
  • Remove your own trash and, if possible, any garbage that you see left by others.
  • During the deer bow-hunting season at the preserve (September 15 – January 31), wear a fluorescent orange hat or vest.
  • Leash your dog at all times.

To reach the preserve:

From Route 1, take the Route 2 exit north. Take Route 112 until you reach Old Mill Road on your left. The gravel road to the western parking area is near the utility easement, to the right where the road turns sharply to the left.

From Route 138 West, take a left onto Richmond Townhouse Road (aka Route 112) at the Richmond Town Hall. Continue south for .2 miles, past the Charlestown Elementary School. The unpaved road leading to the eastern trailhead is to your right. Or drive on a short distance and take the first right onto Old Mill Road for the equestrian parking area and western trailhead.


Powder Mill Ledges, Smithfield, RI

On the Trail – Paul Dolan
WildforaRI, Spring 2016

Powder Mill Ledges is one of the sixteen public wildlife refuges owned by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. This refuge also houses the headquarters for the Audubon Society of Rhode Island.

There are three separate trails on the property, taking 35 to 90 minutes, if you want to explore all of the trails. It is an easy to a slightly moderate hike; some areas have a little bit of slope and in the times of high water some muddy areas.

I have always enjoyed this area 
to hike and to use as a learning tool for the amount of change that happens in a short amount
of time. The refuge is about 120 acres, and if the building
is open, you may want to stop inside and get a map and a brochure that explains the area’s
15 marked stations. I have always found it to be an oasis just a step away from civilization. Another unique feature of Audubon refuges is that hunting is not allowed, so they are great places to hike in the fall.

The hike starts immediately after the parking lot, and at the begin- ning you are roaming past a first successional habitat where you can see remnants of old apple orchards, Red Maple, Big Toothed Aspen, and many other species associated with a transition zone.

Traveling a short distance, you come to a bridge looking over a vernal pool, and in the spring the peepers are very loud. In this area you can also view the area that the society manages as an open field habitat. This is managed on a two- year cycle of mowing to enhance open field species and not allow it to go into brush. Bluebird boxes can be seen in the field.

Continuing on, you pass stone walls and, looking to the east and up the slope, you see a quick change in species diversity with more White Pine, a clear indicator of when agricultural use of the area ended. Farther along the trail, legend has it, there is a mound that was an Indian lookout area, now home to a grove of Staghorn Sumac. You go by a swampy area and then see the transition of species; as you go up a hill, you see a variety of oaks and pines. When you get to one of the highest points, you cross a bridge going over an upland swamp, a very unique habitat and a testimony to the soils found in this area.

As you ramble further on, you start to see Pitch Pine, evidence of the area being burnt over the centuries. In this area you must decide whether to continue on the blue trail or cross the power lines where the yellow trail takes you. What is interesting about this intersection is that you have a major habitat change, which because of the power lines has to remain in a constant stage of being a brushy area, where one finds different species of wild- life including those on ATVs that sometime frequent the area (illegally).

Traveling back onto the blue trail headed for headquarters you past old wolf trees, remnants of past pasturing practices, plus more stone walls, where you can still see the barbed wire in the trees. As you make your descent into the open field, de- pending on the wind direction, you can sometimes smell the local food establishments and plan your lunch. Going through the open field in the spring, you can see the tracks of visitors to nesting birds. Even the landscaping around the building is unique in how in blends into the surrounding area.

This is a nice hike not far from your neighborhood.

Directions to Powder Mill Ledges, 12 Sanderson Road, Smithfield, RI

From I-295, take exit 7B onto Route 44 West. At the fourth set of lights, turn left onto Route 5 (Sanderson Road). Turn left at the second driveway into the parking lot.

Photo courtesy of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island

Susanna’s Woods – Susan B. DuVal Trail, Wakefield, RI

On the Trail — by Clark Collins
WildfloraRI, Spring 2014

The DuVal Trail, located in the village of Perryville on the north side of the Old Post Road is a three-mile network of rustic trails looping through the 240-acre Susanna’s Woods nature preserve. The preserve includes 167 acres that are held by the South Kingstown Land Trust either in fee title or conservation easement, and 74 acres that are owned by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.

The late Helena-Hope Gammell, a founding member of SKLT initiated this trail system in 1983 with her first land donation of four acres, and continued to add to the preserve by donating other parcels and conservation easements over her land as well as financial assistance the acquisition of abutting properties. The entire project is named Susanna’s Woods in memory of Miss Gammell’s niece, Susannah Klebovitz. Expansion of the reserve has continued to the present year (2013) with a major land donation of 29 acres bequeathed in the will of Virginia Jones, her neighbor and collaborator. The trail itself is named in memory of Susan B. Duval, whose bequest helped pay for the trail and development. Additional assistance has been received from the National Park Service Rivers & Trails Program.

The DuVal Trail system offers some of the Land Trust’s most inviting and unique hiking experiences. The main entrance is located adjacent to the historic graveyard and former site of the Western Meeting House of the South Kingstown Friends (Quaker) Meeting, dating from the late seventeenth to the late nineteenth centuries. George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends, is said to have spoken at the meetinghouse during his tour of the American colonies in 1672.

From the parking area in front of the cemetery, the marked trail progresses up into the hill country known as the Charlestown Recessional Moraine, a long band of hills and valleys stretching from Wakefield, RI, to Watch Hill and farther down the north shore of Long Island, NY, which accumulated as poorly sorted glacial debris some 12,000 years ago as the edge of the glacier paused in its recession.

Most of the rocks are igneous and metamorphic (granite, schist, gneiss) derived from the bedrock in the surrounding area and to the north. The relief between the hilltops and valley floors range from 20 to 50 feet and slopes are often quite abrupt—between 15 and 30 percent. The soils are droughty, extremely stony and acidic. Due to their poor soil quality and inaccessibility most of these hills generally served as woodlots for the plantations located in the adjoining more fertile coastal plain. Some of the old cart paths from this period are still visible. Some isolated hollows have tillable soils that supported small homesteads in the past, and you may see here and there remnants of stonewalls and foundations.

Almost all of this area is now reforested with white, scarlet and black oak, sassafras, white pine, pitch pine, American beech, hickory and other trees common in the mixed upland forest of southern New England. Areas along the east of the trail head were planted with white pine and hemlock during the 1970s as a tree farm and habitat improvement program sponsored by the USDA Soil Conservation Service (now the Natural Resources Conservation Service), but there has been no tree harvest in this area due to its challenging topography. Linden trees still stand along an abandoned road to the Jones Camp in the western part of the preserve.


There is a dense understory of huckleberry and low- highbush blueberry, with thickets of mountain laurel, Sheep-laurel, inkberry, green briar and ferns. There is little sign of infestation by exotic, invasive vegetation due to its undisturbed condition and to the control of Russian olive that has taken place according to a forest management plan developed in 2003. On the many exposed boulders and stones and trees along the trail there is a diverse population of lichens, mushrooms and fungi.

Throughout the year the charms of the trail system are many. As the trail climbs and descends among the hills and hollows, the visitor sees the landscape from many angles, and the three loop trails off the main trail introduce a diversity of microclimates created by variations in sun exposure to the slopes, differences in soil fertility and water tables, and vegetation. An overlook on the main trail has a clear view to the south over the coastal plain, the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge and, in the distance , Block Island.

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel

In mid-June the trails are spectacularly decorated by blooms of mountain laurel. In late summer birds on their southward migration stop to rest and feed on the berry bushes. The new Jones Camp spur trail passes to the north through well-preserved old stone enclosures and leads to Bull Head Pond, a glacial kettle-hole pond.

Birds common to the area include wood thrush, hermit thrush, whip-poor-will, oven bird, wild turkey, towhee, vireo, yellow-rumped warbler, pine warbler, common yellowthroat, nuthatch, chickadee, and titmouse; also hairy, downy, and red–bellied woodpeckers; red, merlin, and sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks; ruffed grouse, junco, robin, veery, red tail hawk, great horned owl and barred owl, field sparrow, chipping sparrow, ruby crowned kinglet, brown creeper, and yellow-bellied sapsucker. (I gave up trying to figure which of these bird names should be capitalized. Some of them are a specific species, and some are general.)

We would rate the difficulty of the walk as moderate; the paths are marked with blazes and have location maps at the trail head and at the intersections of loop trails and the main trail. They are kept in a natural state at a cleared width of approximately four to six feet by rotary brush mowers and lopping shears. The trail is designed to avoid steep, erodible slopes and conform to the gentler contours, while seeking out interesting features such as large boulders, stone walls, remarkable vegetation and rare views. Sites that are habitat for rare or endangered plants or animals are avoided.

• Access to the trails by motor vehicle is limited only to the trail head on Post Road, and a pull-off area on Gravelly Hill Road. In few places the trails have climbs of 15 percent, and hikers should watch their footing for slope, rocks and roots. This trail is not handicapped accessible.

• Hunting is prohibited within 500 feet of the trails, but deer hunting in season may be allowed on other off-trail parts of the surrounding properties. Wearing high-visibility orange clothing is recommended on all wooded paths during deer hunting seasons.

• Hikers are advised that this area is likely to have ticks, and that tick repellents and close inspection for ticks after hiking is advised.

• We hope that you will visit this site, and enjoy it is much as we at the South Kingstown Land Trust do. Please contact Clarkson Collins at to share any observations or experiences you may have on the trails.


Driving directions:

From Wakefield proceed Southwest on Main Street for 1.49 miles to Route 1. Stay on Route 1 South for about 2.9 miles then take the exit marked Post Road / Perryville. Proceed 0.31 miles to a stop sign at the intersection of Ministerial Road (Route 110). Go straight on Post Road for 1.28 miles, passing Moonstone Beach Road on your left, to a parking area on the right at the foot of the Quaker Burial Ground. The trail begins about 50 feet west of the parking area on the same side.

A trail map is available on the South Kingstown Land Trust website,


A Great Swamp Escapade, South Kingstown, RI

Join Anne Wagner and Kathy Barton, veteran RIWPS walk leaders, on Saturday, August 20, 2022 from 9:00 to 11:00 am, as we go adventuring in search of the botanical denizens of the Great Swamp Management Area, in South Kingstown, RI. Against the colorful backdrop of white boneset, yellow goldenrod and the lavender pink Joe Pye Weed, we expect  to find water plants, especially sedges and rushes, when they are the most interesting. For those of you who went on our Welcome Spring Walk in March, this is also a chance to enjoy some of the  changes that have occurred since that visit.  (Click here to see blog item about that walk which includes a list of plants that were seen.)

The trail is dry and flat, but a hat, sunscreen, water, insect repellent and sturdy footwear are recommended.

Rain date: Saturday, September 10, 2022 from 9:00 to 11:00 am.  Wearing orange required on and from this date!

There is no charge for this walk but the number of participants is limited to 15 given the nature of the walk.

Registration is required (see below).  Directions for where to meet up will be sent to registrants a few days before the walk.

Should you register and then are unable to come, please contact as soon as possible.   We are trying to avoid a situation where late cancellation or no shows mean that people who are on the waiting list cannot attend.

Sorry, this walk is full. Please contact to be placed on a waiting list.

(Cancelled) First Thursday Botanizing Walk – Moshassuck River Preserve

Lobelia cardinalis, cardinal flower
photo GGardner

This walk has been cancelled due to the forecast for high heat.

Opened in September 2021, the Nature Conservancy’s Moshassuck River Preserve offers three miles of blazed trails in a landscape of New England hardwood forest, river banks and glacial boulders. Witch-hazel, spicebush, ironweed and cardinal flower all flourish in the understory, and if we are lucky we may spot a pileated woodpecker. Cheryl Wiitala, TNC’s preserves manager, will lead the walk.

We will meet at the preserve parking lot, 3 Sherman Avenue, Lincoln, RI 02865, located next door to the Fairlawn Golf Course.  Directions below.

This walk is a part of our First Thursday Botanizing Walk Series. See our Botanizing Walks home page for important details you should know about the walks in this series. 

From Route 146 north:
• Take Exit 5 (RI-123 / Breakneck Hill Road).
• Turn right onto Route 123E.
• After .9 miles turn left onto Great Road.
• Proceed .8  miles to turn left onto Sherman Road.
• Continue on Sherman Road about .2 miles with the golf course on your left.
• Before the curve, take a sharp left at the orange and white preserve sign and proceed down the hill. The preserve parking lot will be on the right. If this lot is full, parking is allowed in the golf course lot.
From Route 146 south: 
• Take the RI Route 123 exit toward Breakneck Hill Road.
• Turn left onto Breakneck Hill Road.
• After 1.0 mile turn left onto Great Road.
• Proceed .8 miles to turn left onto Sherman Road.
Follow the directions above.

First (well this month, the Second) Thursday Botanizing Walk – Blue Pond Trail

Botanizing Walk at Blue Pond

We have moved this walk to the second Thursday in July to avoid the 4th of July holiday week!

Join URI Professor Brian Maynard for an exploration of the Blue Pond Trail in Hopkinton, RI. We will walk through mountain laurel and black birch woods to the edge of Blue Pond, which has a rich diversity of wetland and mesic plants. Expect to see many species of oak and fern and rare wetland species.

Directions to meet up location at the parking lot for Rockville Management Area, Blue Pond Trail, Canonchet Road Trail head.

From RT 3 travel 1.6 miles north to a small parking lot on the right. GPS coordinates are 41.505374, -71.759238 google driving directions

If the lot is full please park up the road at the Long Pond Trail head and walk back down the road (~0.3 miles).

This walk is a part of our First Thursday Botanizing Walk Series. See our Botanizing Walks home page for important details you should know about the walks in this series. 


First Thursday Botanizing Walk – Sin and Flesh Brook Natural Area

Sin and Flesh Brook meanders through eighty-acres of Tiverton’s signature coastal oak-holly forest adjacent to the Fort Barton Revolutionary War Redoubt. The stream’s loveliness belies its curious name given to it following a bloody encounter between a Quaker preacher and a band of Pocasset natives during King Philip’s War. That harsh memory has been replaced by the soft murmur of the brook, birdsong, and plant diversity under towering oaks, streamside wetlands, vernal pools, and glacial outcrops. Participants should be prepared for a 1.75-mile walk over some rugged terrain.



Meet up with Garry Plunkett in the parking area across from the Tiverton Town Hall, 343 Highland Road.

– From Route 24 in Tiverton, exit south on Main Road (RI 77).
– Go 0.4 miles and bear left at the flashing light onto Highland Road.
– Proceed 0.75 miles to the Town Hall on the right where a public restroom is available.

This walk is a part of our First Thursday Botanizing Walk Series. See our Botanizing Walks home page for important details you should know about the walks in this series. 

First Thursday Botanizing Walk – Ben Utter Trail

Canada-mayflower, DMcGrady

On this walk with biologist Denise Poyer, we will discover early spring flowers deep in the Arcadia Management Area.

We will first wander south on Sand Trail to look for Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana), dolls-eyes (Actaea pachypoda), Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) and many other ephemeral flowers.  There is a wonderful patch of nodding trillium (Trillium cernuum)  along this trail, one of the few trillium species found in RI.  We will then head back north on the Ben Utter Trail to search for more wetland species, including early violets.

Denise Poyer is a retired wildlife biologist who spent over 25 years working for the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association, where she was directly responsible for achieving National Wild and Scenic Rivers designation for the rivers.  As a naturalist she describes herself as “knowing a little bit about a lot of things.”

Plan for a mile or so of walking on wooded trails and wear appropriate hiking footwear.

Our meeting place will be the Ben Utter trailhead, Exeter.

Directions to the Ben Utter trailhead, Plain Road, Exeter, RI (Lat: 41.5984; Long: -71.74599)

-Take Rte. 165 (Ten Rod Road) in Exeter west to Escoheag Hill Road.
-Go north 0.9 miles and take your first right onto a u-shaped dirt road (Plain Road) with a small red log cabin in the middle.
-As you drive behind the cabin, look for a speed limit sign nailed to a tree. Bear right here to continue directly east on Plain Road.
-After approximately one mile, you will come to our meeting place at a bridge over the Wood River.
Park on either side of the bridge or along Plain Road.

This walk is a part of our First Thursday Botanizing Walk Series. See our Botanizing Walks home page for important details you should know about our walks.  Note: Fluorescent orange is recommended but not required for this walk.

First Thursday Botanizing at Ben Utter & North/South Trails – cancelled

Trillium cernuum, nodding trilium. DMcGrady

Discover early spring flowers on trails deep in the Arcadia Management Area on this easy walk with wildlife biologist Denise Poyer, recently retired after 25 years with the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association.

We will wander south on Sand Trail to look for Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana), Doll’s- eyes (Actaea pachypoda), Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense) and many other ephemeral flowers.  There is a wonderful patch of nodding trillium (Trillium cernuum) along this trail, one of the few trillium species found in RI.  If time allows we will head back to the Ben Utter trail to search for more wetland species, including early violets. 

 Expect a mile or so of walking on wooded trails, so dress for the weather and wear appropriate hiking footwear.

Directions: Take Rte. 165 (Ten Rod Road) in Exeter and turn right onto  Escoheag Hill Road.  Go north 0.9 miles and take your first right onto a u-shaped dirt road with a small building in the middle.  (This is Plain Road on Google Maps, but is also known as Austin Farm Road.) After passing this building, bear right (east)  to stay on Plain Road.  Continue straight, approximately one mile to a bridge over the Wood River.  There is parking on both sides of the bridge or along the road. We will meet at the bridge near the Ben Utter trailhead.

This walk is a part of our First Thursday Botanizing Walk Series. See our Botanizing Walks home page for important details you should know about the walks in this series.