Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park Trail

Massachusetts

Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park Trail Facts

States: Massachusetts
Counties: Worcester
Length: 3.5 miles
Trail end points: Northbridge and Uxbridge
Trail surfaces: Dirt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015940
Trail activities: Bike, Horseback Riding, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park Trail Description

The Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park recalls the role of canals in transporting raw materials and manufactured goods between emerging industrial centers. Walk along restored sections of the Blackstone River Canal and Towpath from the River Bend Farm Visitors Center. Straddling the town line between Uxbridge and Northbridge is a 1000 acre natural area offering walking and hiking paths, canoe access, picnic areas and a broad expanse of the Blackstone River known as Rice City Pond, which is a great area for watching wildlife.



Parking and Trail Access

Directions: Mass Pike to exit 11, Rte. 122 south to N. Uxbridge, set of lights, left onto East Hartford Ave. Follow signs.

Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park Trail Reviews

After riding (and getting spoiled on) the Upper Charles Trail for weeks, I decided to start exploring other local trails via TrailLink. First stop was what I thought would be a short, pleasant trek from Uxbridge to Northbridge on the Blackstone River and Canal Heritage State Park Trail. Good news is that at the last minute I left the road bike home and took my kids mountain bike; bad news is that I followed the trail to the end and didn't turn around about 10 minutes into it.

After a relatively pleasant start from behind the old Stanley Woolen Mill (despite the smelly, stagnant, algae-covered canal), the trail quickly disintegrated into a non-maintained mess of huge roots, rocks, and bridges which you had to dismount to go across. Markings were minimal, and there were several areas where river erosion reduced the "trail" to less than a foot or two across. The Northbridge end the path is overgrown with vegetation and appears to be poorly maintained until you're within sight of the Plummers Landing parking area. I decided to return via Rt122 - which I considered a much less dangerous alternative to retracing my steps.

I wonder if these towns could solicit assistance from the Blackstone Valley Historical Foundation to make improvements so this can actually be used for non-extreme, family biking? The potential is certainly there. Until then, it was an interesting ride; however, this trail is now off my list.

unpaved, bumpy and roots. My 6yr old had a difficult time

I frequent this trail often for a 2 hour roundtrip walk. Starting at the Stanley Woolen Mill entrance in Uxbridge, the trail winds along the canal and river up to Plummers Landing. I see an occasional red tail hawk near Rice City Pond. Watch for the tree roots in the upper section of trail. It can get buggy in the summer, being close to the water.

Accordion

This 3.5 mile trail can be divided into several sections. The southern portion between Hartford Ave. and the Stanley Woolen Mill has been extensively improved by the state park with the watered canal alongside. This is heavily used. The Visitors Center is in this section.
North of Hartford Ave. to Goat Hill Lock, the canal and towpath pass along the west edge of Rice City Pond. While the canal is watered by the river and pond, the towpath is impassable. Instead, the trail follows an old woods road over the shoulder of Goat Hill west of the canal.
At Goat Hill Lock, the trail regains the towpath and follows it north for about ¾ of a mile. Other than clearance of blow downs, no improvements have been done in this section. While walking is easy and level, the surface is rough. The canal is dry.
Finally, the trail reaches a section where the river has breached into the canal and cuts off the towpath from access. The canal is watered from here to Church Street, but it cannot be paddled due to blow downs. Instead, the trail follows a sewer line easement near the west bank. This is a nice, level woods road.
Improvements are proposed. To help, access the web site BlackstoneCC.org for a schedule of workdays.

I live a short 10 minute walk from where the trail crosses East Hartford Avenue and have hiked, biked and cross-country-skied it countless times over my 23 years in the area. Beginning at the southern terminus is ample parking near the Stanley Woolen Mill, makers of the North uniforms during the Civil War and the current Air Force Blues. The first portion of the trail up to East Hartford Avenue is used most by walkers, many with dogs, and can get quite crowded at times. Along the way you will come across a bridge that crosses one of the recently refurbished locks on the Canal, a small stone bridge abutment and several side trails that, depending on the time of year, are great to explore. Further along the tow path there is another bridge crossing over the Canal that leads to River Bend Farm and Visitor Center. Near the bridge the River takes a sharp turn to the east. During the rainy season the River overflows and floods a wide area from this point downstream for over a mile to Route 16. It is definitely worth stopping by the Visitors Center and checking out their calendar of events where they host all kinds of events throughout the year, including free concerts. There is a short section back across the bridge along the tow path that leads north to East Hartford Avenue where there is a second refurbished lock and a beautiful stone bridge. Get out yor camera for this one.

If you cross Hartford Ave a path continues along the River for approximately 2 miles to Plummer's Landing. For nature lovers who like to hike this is definitely the better part of the trail. Soon after getting on the trail there is a left turn off the main path uphill to Goats Hill where there are miles and miles of paths winding through the woods and up and down some pretty steep hills. Back on the trail you'll head downhill to the Goats Hill Lock. From here to the northern terminus the path is anything from flat to root-covered to muddy to grassy and anything else you might imagine and runs through some great areas along the Blackstone before ending in a gravel parking lot off Church Street.

This area is a wonderful hike, especially if you like to get a little lost and off the beaten path.

If you like mosquitos, swamp water, and a sub-par riding surface, this trail is for you! There are three areas to park along the trail, but only the mid-point of the trail off of East Hartford avenue offers any type of facilities. The southern terminus of this trail also has adequate parking near a historic mill location. From this location, there is a bridge which has steps at either end, so you can not bike directly across. From here, the trail heads North for about a mile, but the surface is rutted with tree roots that really break up the integrity of the tow path. Also, when I travelled the trail at the end of July, the first 1/4-mile had stagnant, scummy water aside the tow path -- not very picturesque. As you proceed toward East Hartford Ave, the trail gets better, and you approach a second bridge that allows you to cross. My hope was that the trail would improve the more North I travelled. However, after managing to cross a third bridge via a single-track path, I arrived at East Hartford Ave, where the trail definitely is suitable for mountain bikers and hikers. The path between here & Church Street (the northern terminus of this trail), passing through Heritage Park, is meandering, rutted with tree roots & rocks, good for mountain bikers & hikers, but not for the casual rider. Also expect to pass through muddy areas and water puddles that came up to the axel on my bike!

I do not recommend this trail except for those looking for a rustic adventure.

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