Two Short Hikes in Scituate, RI

On the Trail — by Paul Dolan
WildfloraRI,  Winter 2015

Trott/Perry Trail

Trott PerryTrott/Perry trail is located along the eastern banks of the Pawtuxet River in the northern end of Hope Village and is accessed primarily from South and North Doctor’s Lane, off North Road (Rt. 116). It is less than a mile in distance but opens to other parcels in the area. Two local land preservations, Drs. Raymond H. Trott and Thomas Perry acquired this parcel in the early 1990’s. Walking trails have been featured since 2005 when the Forest Stewardship Plan began to manage the site.  Logging operations on this track, previously used a tree farm, were completed in the fall of 2014. Strolling through the area, you can see the stumps and how the land was managed, and also witness the new and diverse array of vegetation that is now claiming the area. This site will be an excellent site for citizen’s science, as it contains most of the standard trees that one would find in a typical northern Rhode Island woodlot. As the trail wanders along, the changes in habitat influenced by power lines cutting through the area become apparent, especially at the forest edge along the Pawtuxet River and the old Christmas tree plantation where the trees have grown to pole size.

In other areas, one can see the remnants of the first successional fields. Hikers can expect to see red, white, black, and scarlet oak; white pine, red cedar, sassafras, Norway and white spruce, American chest- nut, sweet pepper bush, huckleberries, and of course the ever-present bull briers. This is a nice, easy hike nestled in a busy community.

Directions: From the intersection of Route 12/116, continue south on Route 116 (passing the Providence Water Treatment Plant on the left) for approximately 1.7 miles and turn right onto Doctor’s Lane. Go about 1/10 mile to the parking lot on right.

 Westconnaug Meadows

Westconnaug MeadowsThe Scituate Land Trust has owned Westconnaug Meadows, located in the village of Clayville for over two decades. In that time, it has been developed as an educational outreach and hiking area. The trail system follows the paths of old deer runs. The parcel contains red maple swamps, American chestnut, old field species, glacial boulders, and woodland resulting from the successive impacts of agriculture, overcutting, fire and land abandonment. Spring peepers, the proliferation of deer, and the novelty of stands of chestnut oaks provide this woodlot with year-round interest. Other species found here include tupelo, white, red, and black oak; gray birch, sassafras, white pine, arrow-wood, sweet pepper bush, witchhazel, huckleberries, and high- bush blueberries.

The area has a real “off the beaten path” feel to it, especially once you reach the trail’s midpoint. This 1 to 1.25 mile hike skirts hundreds of acres of Providence Water Water Supply Trust land. Starting at the trailhead at the north end of parking lot, progress through a wetland with a wooden bridge system. Continue through old field white pine and gray birch, signs that this area was cleared at one point. Beyond a stone wall, the tree species change to mixed upland oaks as the site gets drier. Go about 1,100 feet to a fork in the path. Follow the left fork; as you walk, note small piles of stones and scattered American chestnut sprouts. After about 1,800 feet, you will come to a small scenic overlook that looks down on the head- waters of a small stream running to the Scituate Reservoir. Follow this small ridge for a while; here, chestnut oaks start becoming prevalent. At this point you will be able to see red oak and hickory trees in the ravine to your left, and wetlands with scattered vernal pools. The area has occasional erratic boulders left behind by the glaciers. Follow the marked route back to the first fork in  the path. Turn left and follow the path back to the parking lot.

Directions: Trailhead 41°46’0.18″N, 71°40’18.46″W
Take RI 102 to Clayville. In Clayville, turn onto Field Hill Road. Follow Field Hill Road to George Washington Highway. Clayville Elementary School is on the right. Turn right onto George Washington Highway and continue for a half mile. The parking lot is on the left in front of the baseball field.