Location: Smithfield, RI
Date: March 22, 2018
Time: 10:00 am – 1:30 pm
Hike Duration: 3.5 hours; 4.25 miles
Weather: Mostly cloudy; lightly snowing; 33-40 degrees F
Today’s hike began with a gentle snow still falling. It softened the trails, muffling our footsteps and lending a peacefulness to the woods. It was pretty to watch as it floated down around the trees. We could feel the cool flakes melting on our warm faces. Occasionally, we’d be struck by a snowball as clumps of wet, melting snow would slide from branches above. We may be ready for spring, but there’s always magic in the snowy woods.
Wolf Hill Forest Preserve is about 300 acres of forest, located next to the Stillwater Reservoir. We parked at the conservation center on Waterview Drive, crossed the road, and headed up to the trails.
There are multiple trails to choose from that will eventually lead you to the Mercer Overlook. We alternated on the trails, hiking parts of the green, red, purple and white trails on our way up.
Unfortunately, the view on the overlook was hindered by the overcast day. We took some time to explore the area for a bit, including an old chimney that is falling apart and covered with graffiti. It didn’t feel like it was time for lunch yet, so we continued our trek.
We made our way to the yellow trail, beginning our return hike. A section of this trail brought us close to Route 295. This was a first for us. I don’t think we’ve ever hiked where you could actually see a highway from the trail. Thankfully, it was short-lived and we quickly returned deeper into the woods.
We maneuvered around a section of washed out trail and then finally found our view. Off the beaten path, in the middle of the woods, sitting on a rock and surrounded by trees. That’s how we enjoyed our lunch together.
Once we had our fill of food and rest, we continued on the yellow trail to the WWII Memorial honoring 3 airmen who died here when their plane crashed in 1943. The giant boulder next the the memorial captured our attention. It has somehow been lifted off the ground and balanced on smaller rocks underneath it!
Twice along this hike we had to travel on trails that crossed the high voltage power lines. The first time, we could hear the crackling of snow landing on the wires, making us keenly aware of how alive they are! Walking under high tension lines, with currents of electricity flowing above our heads, tends to make us feel uncomfortable. However, there’s something picturesque to me about how they look as they extend over the landscape.
These things are enormous. As much as the power lines feel invasive to the natural landscape, I can’t help but spend a moment appreciating them. Appreciating the electrical power that brings us the comforts of life we are so accustomed to.
We ended our hike at Saint Michael’s Kindness Rock Garden behind the conservation center, looking out over the reservoir. Although we both decided this wouldn’t make our list of return-to spots, it was an enjoyable hike all the same!