Posted By auntie on September 13, 2016
8 miles; Uxbridge and Northbridge, MA
Today’s adventure was kind of a 2-fer hike. The first part consisted of joining my friend Marjorie, author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts [second edition available now on Amazon] for a lovely 2-mile stroll along the west bank of the Blackstone River on a trail that is part of the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park in Uxbridge. It’s always great to catch up with my hiking friends! And lovely to see the Blackstone River again. Hardest working river in America! (That’s its slogan. Seriously, this river has a slogan.)
The second part was a solo hike that took me from Riverbend Farm in Uxbridge up to Plummer’s Landing in Northbridge and back.
The water level is a little low, but this is a major river, and not about to run dry due to a little severe drought action. We had some nice views along this riverside trail up to the Goat Hill Lock and back.
It’s a little hard to see here, but this giant boulder that was trailside still sported a “plug-and-feather” rock splitting mechanism. You can find out more about this system on this Wikipedia page. See? You learn something new every day. I wonder why they gave up on this particular boulder.
After going back to the trailhead with Marjorie, I turned around and headed up an alternate trail that climbed Goat Hill. This is a pretty heavily mountain-biked area, and there are tons of trails all through here. The main trail is nominally blazed, but sometimes you just have to guess. I guessed right most of the time.
Both the riverside trail and the Goat Hill trail end up here, at the Goat Hill Lock. The riverside trail actually follows the towpath for the old Blackstone Canal, which paralleled the river from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Lincoln, Rhode Island. There are several canal locks still in place along here, and this is one of the nicer ones, with its arrow-straight granite block sides.
I followed the towpath trail from the Goat Hill lock up to Plummer’s Landing, and then came the not so pleasant part of the hike, the road-walking portion. The roads along here are really busy, and there’s not a lot of room on the shoulders for walking. I couldn’t wait to get off them and back into the woods. However, I did visit for a bit with these guys… the goats of Goat Hill, perhaps?
I just love all the stonework along this stretch of the river. There are some beautiful old bridges, this one among them.
You can find out more about the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park on this Massachusetts State website. It includes some info on the history of the Blackstone Canal, as well as a trail map, but honestly, they kind of screwed up the whole trail map thing, so I’m posting a more usable version here.