Southern New England Trunkline Trail, Section 1

Posted By on June 2, 2019

Southern New England Trunkline Trail, Section 1

6.5 miles; Franklin, Bellingham, Blackstone, MA

I have a list. It’s in the form of a spreadsheet, because OF COURSE IT IS, geek that I am. But still, there’s this list, and it’s a list of all the hikes I’ve found out about that I want to do someday. So when I committed to a family dinner in North Smithfield, RI, I of course went to my list to see what was in the area that I could knock off before dinner.

Lo and behold, I’ve always wanted to complete the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (it says so on my list). I’m pretty familiar with this rails-to-trails trail on its western end, starting in Thompson, CT, and through Douglas State Forest. But I was, until today, completely new to its start in Franklin State Forest. And hey, Blackstone is only, like, 15 minutes from North Smithfield…

Trailhead

Trailhead

 

Mile Marker 0

Mile Marker 0

I parked at a Dunkin’ Donuts in Blackstone and summoned a Lyft ride to get to the trailhead. It took quite while to get there, and I began to question my Google Maps calculations that the distance was only about 6 1/4 miles, and that I could get back to my car in  time to make it for my dinner, but at this point I was kind of committed (spoiler: I made it with 10 minutes to spare, and that included changing out of my hiking clothes at the Dunkin’ Donuts after I got back).

The Good

The Good

The trail surface through here was very nicely maintained and graded processed material, like the kind of stuff you’d make a driveway from. Very easy walking. And it got even better (after a little hiccup of a road-crossing) where it was even paved for a stretch. But my overall impression of this section was that it was WILDLY uneven.

The Bad, and the Ugly

The Bad and the Ugly

Inexplicably, the surface went from immaculately maintained flat and level to, uh, this. Mucky, and lumpy, and just plain yuck. Stretches of it reminded me of the Trestle Trail in Sterling (I was listening for banjos). There were the usual wales from dirt bikes and ATVs, puddles, downed trees… This first section was downright schitzo.

Nice View

Nice View

Also, I was reminded why I’m not such a huge fan of rails-to-trails hikes. They can be awfully boring, and this hike was kind of boring in places, although there were occasionally some very pretty views.

Dewberries

Dewberries

 

Black Locust

Black Locust

Summer is in full swing now, and the flowering tree and shrub scents in the air are almost intoxicating. I smelled muliflora rose (an evil invasive, but so sweet-smelling) and honeysuckle, though I didn’t get photos.

You can find out more about the Southern New England Trunkline Trail (SNETT) and download maps from this website. As always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.

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