Family Hikes in Blackstone River Valley

Family Hikes in Blackstone River ValleyThe Blackstone River runs 46 miles from Worcester, Massachusetts to Providence, Rhode Island and is considered "the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution." Samuel Slater built the country's first commercially successful textile mill along the Blackstone in Pawtucket, Rhode Island in 1790. The former factories along the river are now silent, but its natural beauty is being reclaimed for hiking, biking and other outdoor recreation. The region is part of the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. Try these family-friendly hikes to discover it for yourself.

River Bend Farm

Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, offers a look at farm life that once marked the region. Start your hike at River Bend Farm, the park headquarters. The Lady Carrington Tow Path extends an easy one mile along the Blackstone Canal, which operated between Worcester and Providence from 1828 to 1848. Watch for heron, turtles and other wildlife. A more rugged trail continues north of River Bend Farm for 2.5 miles, passing Goat Hill Lock.

Purgatory Chasm (picture above)

Hikers looking for more challenge will enjoy Purgatory Chasm State Reservation in nearby Sutton, Massachusetts. The quarter-mile chasm trail passes between 70-foot-high granite walls, formed by glacial meltwater 14,000 years ago. Check out rock formations including Lover's Leap, the Coffin and Fat Man's Misery. Younger children might opt for the park's gentler walking trails, playground and picnic area.

Blackstone Gorge

View the powerful Blackstone River's wildest stretch from the trail high above the gorge in Blackstone, Massachusetts, near the state line. Wear sturdy shoes and walk carefully along the mile (round-trip) path that extends south from the parking area and waterfall at Rolling Dam. Afterwards, launch your kayak north of the dam for a quiet paddle.

Blackstone River Bikeway

Walk or bike the 11 miles of paved bikeway bordering the river and canal between Woonsocket and Central Falls, Rhode Island. The bikeway will eventually extend 48 miles from Worcester to Providence. Pass by shady riverbanks, grassy fields and former factories, some turned into luxury condominiums and lofts. Stop in the Captain Wilbur Kelly House Museum along the path in Lincoln, Rhode Island, which features the history of transportation. Access the trail from several marked parking areas and the Route 295 northbound visitor center in Lincoln.

Lincoln Woods State Park

For a full range of family activities, visit Lincoln Woods State Park, just off Route 146 in Lincoln, Rhode Island. Walk the miles of intersecting trails in this 600-acre park and then go for a refreshing swim in Olney Pond. The park features an EMS kayak center for instruction and rental. Alternatively, try English or western horseback riding at the new equestrian center.

Article Written By Susan Spencer

Since 2000, Susan Spencer has contributed to the "Worcester Telegram & Gazette," "Cape Cod Life," "Worcester Living," "Sister 2 Sister," and other publications. She specializes in health, education, culture and lifestyle, the outdoors/environment, and regional travel. She has a B.A. from Dartmouth College and an M.S. from Harvard School of Public Health.

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