There’s something warm about autumn in the Blackstone Valley.
It may be the colors of the leaves as they lose their youthful green hues and adopt their warmer, fiery autumn coats. There’s just something about the colorful canopy overhead that makes us want to carve pumpkins and drink warm apple cider like when we were kids.
The Blackstone River Valley taps into such leafy autumnal nostalgia. It contains winding trails and bike paths, leafy parks and rivers, and farms, mills and villages that point to the past. Stretching from Pawtucket R.I., to Worcester, Mass., it offers a spectacular journey of foliage.
Here are some ways you can enjoy the Blackstone River Valley this fall.
Blackstone River Bikeway
Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but its size comes as an advantage. Instead of driving for hours through New Hampshire and Vermont, taking in the colors through your car windows, you can take to your bike and wheel through the foliage.
The bike path travels off-road through Cumberland, Lincoln and Woonsocket, along the Blackstone River and canal, and, passing through Blackstone River State Park in Lincoln. This park offers paths lined with quiet trees, propelling you down a tunnel of oranges, reds and yellows. For more information, visit www.nps.gov.
The Ashton Mill, built in 1867, sits up the river in the Ashton Historic District straddling Lincoln and Cumberland. A welcoming field with some picnic tables abutting a tiny apple orchard offers a nice stop to sit and enjoy the colorful leafy reflections off the water.
Click here for more fall foliage bike trails.
Blackstone River Tour
Traversing the Blackstone River in the fall is another great way to take in fall foliage. In Cold Spring Park, in Woonsocket, every Sunday afternoon from Sept. 6 to Oct. 30, Explorer Riverboats offers hourly cruises along the river from 1 to 4 p.m. In addition to blazing leaves, you may also spot some of the wildlife that call the river home, including deer, turtles and perhaps a bald eagle, if you’re lucky!
Old Slater Mill National Historic District
While the word “foliage” brings about images of forests, mountainsides and heavily wooded areas, fall color definitely adds a bit of rustic seasonal charm to New England towns and rural areas.
Besides, it’s hard to talk about the Blackstone Valley and not mention Slater Mill in Pawtucket. Samuel Slater’s mill, built in 1793, was the first successful cotton-spinning mill in the United States. The mill and the surrounding homestead and water-powered machine shop are open for tours Tuesday through Sunday in September and October.
By Stephanie DiCarlo
For more fall foliage articles and adventures, visit AAA.com/NortheastFoliage.