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Trails are abundant throughout the Valley, but would quickly be disappearing as
residential construction continues at a rapid pace within the Blackstone
Valley. However, broad pro-active planning and efforts have been
preserving and/or upgrading
some of the most recognized and significant paths. A series of workshops,
directed by the National Heritage Corridor's Mark Jewel and Valley town
representatives have engaged the broader public over past few years.
The next step continues to be working with public and private landowners
throughout the communities to ascertain the privilege of passing through. These
steps take a vision, a broad network of volunteers and/or paid staff, grants or
fundraising and eventually, redevelopment. Progress depends on the
generosity of a landowner oftentimes. Respect of the property is of ultimate
concern to maintain this privilege.
Some of the trails (besides the
Bike Path and three
Worcester trails) and their
1. Blackstone Broad Meadow Trail - A
0.8 mile trail begins at the proposed site of the Northern Gateway Visitor
in Hurley Square, the former Rome Building Products site. From the site, the
trail crosses Rte 146 on a pedestrian overpass bridge, then travels for a block
being going off the road for the remainder of the trail. This trail goes up a
forested slope and offers excellent views of Worcester. At 0.6 miles, the trail
connects at Granite Street, thereby connecting the Visitor Center to Audubon's
Broad Meadow Brook Wildlife Sanctuary
2. The Millbury Branch Rail Trail - This trail emanates
from a vision of Millbury citizens. The Mass Office of Construction and
Transportation currently owns the two mile stretch of old railway, but citizens
are working to gain ownership while Millbury's Open Space Committee is
developing a strategy for converting this right-of-way into a premier
recreational trail. This would connect Millbury Town Center to the Blackstone
River Bikeway as well as the historic Asa Waters Mansion, the Senior Center,
Town Hall, the VFW Hall and Worcester and Sutton.
3.Dearing Estate Trailhead Access Project - The Dearing
Estate is a 157 acre forested parcel in Millbury that was deeded to the Dept of
Wildlife and Fisheries in 1999. Approximately seven miles of trails are
available with access through a small parking lot for 5-6 cars on Riverlin
Street. Goals include increasing the parking lot, installing pit toilets and
improving some of the trails as well as extending the trails to reach the
Millbury Branch Trail across Riverlin Street
4.The Grafton Loop Trail - is a 20+ mile trail that
consists of seven trails currently scattered throughout Grafton. Progress seeks
to join these trails to connect to the Dearing Estate, the BR Bikeway, Upton
State Forest and various Grafton Land Trust parcels.
5. Grafton and Upton Rail Trail - About nine miles of
this 15.5 mile course runs throughout Grafton through the Town Center southeast
towards Upton. This former rail trail was constructed in 1874 as part of the
freight/passenger rail from North Grafton to Milford, disbanded in 1987-1993.
For 80 years, the owners were the Draper Family from Hopedale, then in 1967,
Rockwell International and later, a smaller company, Torco owned the railway.
6. Lookout Rock - This 4 mile long trail connects the
Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park with the Upton State Forest and
the Army Corp of Engineer's West Hill Dam recreation site to the Grafton and
Upton Rail Trail. This trail was formerly a Nipmuc trail crossingt hrough
forest, wetlands and the West River.
7.Lake Manchaug Greenway and
Wildlife Corridor = Thus far, a broad vision by citizens and
generous landowners have contributed to creating a six mile trail which connects
the Douglas State Forest to the Sutton State Forest and Purgatory Chasm State
Reservation. This land acquisition also offers watershed protection for Lake
Manchaug and its tributaries which benefits the Mumford River and the Town Owned
Waters Farm property, a National Historic Register property. Wildlife habitat is
also critical. Citizens have received a DEM Greenways Grant, land donations
ranging from 6.5 acres in April 2001 to 450 acres in June 2001 making this trail
a project in progress.
8. Mumford River Walk Extension - A linear greenway of
town owned eleven acres on the south side of Linwood Avenue along the Mumford
River in Whitinsville is accessible via the high school, middle school,
Whitinsville Christian School as well as the primary school and
kindergarten center. Several historical aspects, including the Linwood Mill and
the former owner mansion add to the significance of this trail. This trail was
initiated int he 1990's with the Town Selectmen appointing a six member panel in
1995 to lead the project. As of recently (2/03), a 1 mile trail is progressing
to the next phase.
9. SNETT - Eventually, this
trail is intended to connect to the Ma Central Rail Trail, a 140 mile rails to
trails project from Boston to Northampton, Ma. The SNETT
is 22 miles long and was acquired in 1984 by the Massachusetts Department of
Management and then designated as a National Recreation Trail in
1994. This trail passes through six communities: Douglas, Uxbridge,
Millville, Blackstone, Bellingham and Franklin. This trail is formerly
known as the New York-New Haven- Hartford Railroad which ceased operation in
1964 and there is an additional 25 miles extending to Willimantic,
Connecticut. That section is currently owned and managed by the Conn
Department of Environmental Protection. The entire trail is a stone dust path
and is presently undeveloped. This path would support a Class I bikeway and is
the width of a double track rail bed for all non-electric transportation.
The SNETT is 22
miles long and was acquired in 1984 by the Massachusetts Department of
Management and then designated as a National Recreation Trail in 1994. This
trail passes through six communities: Douglas, Uxbridge, Millville, Blackstone,
Bellingham and Franklin. This trail is formerly known as the New York-New
Haven- Hartford Railroad which ceased operation in 1964 and there is an
additional 25 miles extending to Willimantic, Connecticut. That section is
currently owned and managed by the Conn Department of Environmental Protection.
The entire trail is a stone dust path and is presently undeveloped. This path
would support a Class I bikeway and is the width of a double track rail bed for
all non-electric transportation.
10. Drumlin Trail - This three mile trail heads north
for three miles from Rte 122 in Uxbridge to connect to Rte 16 and the Blackstone
River & Canal heritage State Park (River Bend). Along the way, remnants of
the Drumlin Mounds can be seen and Div of Wildlife and Fisheries land is
11. Daniels Farm Trail - In 1998, the Daniels Family,
owners of a Blackstone 280 acre farm for well over 250 years, transferred
ownership of their land to the Metacomet Land Trust. Other protected lands in
the proximal area allows for connections with a trail network. The Daniels Farm
Trail is eight miles in length and connects Mendon Town Forest with Blackstone
Town Land and parcels owned by the State Division of Wildlife and Fisheries as
well as to the Drumlin Trail.
Rhode Island Trails:
1. Woonasquatucket River Bikeway/Northwest Bike Project - In
1994, the National Park Service adopted this project as ultimately becoming part
of the proposed 500 miles of natural corridor greenways. Currently, the RI Dept
of Transportation is developibng a 4.4 mile section for pedestrian and bicycling
from the Johnston/Providence border to Waterplace Park in Providence.
Eventually, a connection through Providence, Johnston, Smithfield, North
Smithfield, Glocester on to Burrillville is expected. The linear park
planned for 87,000 acres under the auspices of the RI Greenspace and Greenway
system for RI is a catalyst for renewal of the Woonasquatucket River.
2. Louisquisset Trolley Line Trail - The fifteen mile
former trolley line from Burrillville to Providence, previously built circa
1900, had been built to access shopping and sites in Providence as well as allow
city dwellers the benefits of recreational lands in Burrillville. The track was
abandoned around 1930. The Lime Rock Preserve, a Nature Conservancy site in
Lincoln, RI and the RI Dept of Transportation's two mile segment from North
Smithfield from Landmark Hospital to the RI Sports Complex along Rte 146 gives
weight to turning this trail into a vast recreational opportunity for the State.
3. Blackstone River Bikeway / I-295 Connector - Along
Rte 195, there are rest areas that are underutilized. Plans call for a
half-mile connection from a Northbound rest area to the existing Bike Trail
along the River. The RI Dept of Transportation is 90% complete and construction
is expected by early 2004.
4. Warner Trail Extension - This 30 mile trail extends
from the Rail Station in Canton to the Diamond Hill Park in Cumberland, RI. The
Appalachian Mountain Club takes credit for this vision enacted by member Charles
Warner prior to World War II. Numerous open space parcels are connected along
the way, including Audubon land and Town and State lands. An extension is
proposed for two miles westward toward the Blackstone River, ultimately
connecting to the Blackstone River Bikeway in the future.