Consideration of gratitude on a walk through a new nature reserve in Lincoln, RI

LINCOLN, RI – Contemplate gratitude on a post Thanksgiving walk through Rhode Island’s newest nature reserve, a few miles from Greater Providence.

The Nature Conservancy opened the Moshassuck River Preserve this fall with 3 miles of marked trails that wind through deciduous forests, around glacial boulders and through small streams feeding the river.

A trail leads along the bubbling Moshassuck River, at the start of its 10 mile journey to Providence, where it fueled industry hundreds of years ago. Another trail winds past a monument to Prudy Hayden, “for her dedicated service to Cub Group 1,” a reminder that the former Camp Conklin Boy Scout camp once stood here. And deep in the forest, there is a historic cemetery where fieldstones mark forgotten graves.

A blue rectangle on a tree marks the path for Nature Conservancy’s new hiking trail.Matthew J Lee / Globe staff

Since the 1990s, this 210-acre parcel owned by Nature Conservancy had been left untouched and open, accessible only to those who took the MacColl YMCA trails at a border, or crossed the Fairlawn Golf Course on the avenue Sherman until you find the old cart trails. It was a place that only the locals knew about.

But when the pandemic struck and people sought refuge in nature, conservation realized the need for more pedestrian space, said Tim Mooney, spokesperson for The Nature Conservancy in Rhode Island. With the nearby Aust Family Preserve at Lime Rock being inundated with visitors, the reserve decided to open the Moshassuck River Preserve, he said.

The Nature Conservancy has opened a new hiking trail in the 210-acre Moshassuck River Preserve.
The Nature Conservancy has opened a new hiking trail in the 210-acre Moshassuck River Preserve.Matthew J Lee / Globe staff

They found neighboring landowners were ready to help, Mooney said. The Fairlawn Golf Course has voluntarily constructed a 15-car parking lot for the reserve, with a shared entrance on Sherman Avenue, and installed new signs. The MacColl YMCA has also hosted the existing trails that leave the reserve and pass through YMCA property.

“The Fairlawn Golf Course and the YMCA have both been great partners to work with,” Reserve Director Cheryl Wiitala said in a statement. “We couldn’t have done it without them, and we can’t wait to do more together.”

The result is a reserve that looks like a hidden gem, with an old dam and cemetery giving a sense of its place in Rhode Island history. Visitors will have to jump over rocks to cross some of the streams, until the reserve adds more walkways, but this essentially offers gentle trails.

“There is something to be said for being surrounded by these tall, healthy trees,” Mooney said. “This is a very nice reserve for families and novice hikers who are not looking for a day or half day hike. It’s 210 acres tucked away in the suburbs, and I think a lot of visitors will take comfort in being in the neighborhood.

The parking lot at the trailhead is located at 3 Sherman Ave., Lincoln, next to the Fairlawn Golf Course. Dogs on a leash are welcome.

Leaves float on a pond amid a reflection of bare trees along Nature Conservancy's new hiking trail in the 210-acre Moshassuck River Preserve.
Leaves float on a pond amid a reflection of bare trees along Nature Conservancy’s new hiking trail in the 210-acre Moshassuck River Preserve.Matthew J Lee / Globe staff

Amanda Milkovits can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on twitter @AmandaMilkovits.



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