Got cabin fever? Take a hike

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The George B. Parker Woodland wildlife refuge in Coventry. [The Providence Journal, file/ Connie Grosch]
The George B. Parker Woodland wildlife refuge in Coventry. [The Providence Journal, file/ Connie Grosch]

Rhode Island has plenty of nature preserves that also offer a glimpse of the state’s rich history. These are a few.

[The Providence Journal, file/Frieda Squires]
A detail of an Indian pipe that grows in Weetamoo Woods, Tiverton.
Weetamoo Woods, Tiverton

There’s plenty to see in this historic 750-acre preserve in central Tiverton named for a sachem of the Pocasset tribe of Wampanoag Indians. Trails wind their way through coastal oak-holly forest and cedar swamp, and lead up to High Rock, which has great views of the surrounding land.

If you park at the south entrance and walk straight ahead along the remains of Eight Rod Way, a Colonial cart path, you’ll cross a slab bridge over Borden Brook and pass stone walls and old cellar holes. Continue to the right and you’ll find the remains of a village sawmill, including a stone arched bridge, a stone and earthen dam and the millrace.

To get there, take Route 24 to Route 77 south and turn left at Tiverton Four Corners onto East Road. The south entrance to the preserve is on the left.

Mysterious stone cairns dot the landscape at Coventry's George B. Parker Woodland, prompting speculation about their origin. [The Providence Journal, file/Connie Grosch]
Mysterious stone cairns dot the landscape at Coventry’s George B. Parker Woodland, prompting speculation about their origin. [The Providence Journal, file/Connie Grosch]
George B. Parker Woodland Wildlife Preserve, Coventry

This 860-acre site is best known for its many mysterious rock cairns. It’s worth visiting just to see these piles of rocks that some believe were left over by ancient peoples but may just as well be stones that Colonial farmers cleared from their fields. The preserve also has plenty of stone walls, as well as the stone remains of a farmhouse foundation and miles of great hiking.

To get there, take Route 95 to Route 102 north and turn right onto Maple Valley Road. Look for the sign for the preserve.

A view of the Providence skyline from the city's highest point, atop Neutaconkanut Hill, a wooded oasis off Plainfield Street. [The Providence Journal, file/Steve Szydlowski]
A view of the Providence skyline from the city’s highest point, atop Neutaconkanut Hill, a wooded oasis off Plainfield Street. [The Providence Journal, file/Steve Szydlowski]
Neutaconkanut Hill, Providence

This 88-acre park sits within the heart of Providence, off Plainfield Street. The hill is the highest point in Providence and was the northwest boundary of the land agreement between Roger Williams and the Narragansett Indians. The hike to the top of the hill is steep but it’s worth it to get a different view of Providence.

The remains of a bandstand where Sunday afternoon concerts were held in the 1930s and ’40s can be found in the park. There is also a monument to the King family, which gifted the park to the city. The trails were originally created in the 1930s by the Works Progress Administration.

To access the entrance trailhead to Neutaconkanut Hill, park in the lot next to the Recreation Center on Plainfield Street. The trailhead is just behind the swimming pool.

Stepstone Falls [The Providence Journal, file/ Tom Meade]
Stepstone Falls [The Providence Journal, file/ Tom Meade]
Stepstone Falls, West Greenwich

Walk the Ben Utter Trail to the series of ledges that the Falls River cascades over. On the way, the trail along the river passes an old stone quarry, the remains of a gristmill and an earthen dam that was part of the mill and the ruins of a sawmill.

To get there, take Route 3 south in Exeter to 165 West and turn right onto Frosty Hollow Road. Drive to the end, then go left and after 2.25 miles, cross the river and park just beyond the bridge at the right.

A wood and steel bridge crosses a brook at the Mowry Conservation Area, a 44-acre site with short, scenic walks through rocky woodlands in Smithfield. [The Providence Journal, file/Bill Murphy]
A wood and steel bridge crosses a brook at the Mowry Conservation Area, a 44-acre site with short, scenic walks through rocky woodlands in Smithfield. [The Providence Journal, file/Bill Murphy]
Mowry Conservation Area, Smithfield

This 44-acre site has a couple of short, scenic walks through rocky woodlands that lie near a trout stream. The trails pass the stone remnants of the 18th century forge that nearby Old Forge Road was named for. There are also ruins left over from a sawmill on the property.

To get there, turn onto Old Forge Road from Farnum Pike (Route 104). Look for the entrance sign and park along Old Forge Road just north of Stump Pond.

akuffner@providencejournal.com

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On Twitter: @KuffnerAlex