Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Goddard Park Equestrian Trail

A couple of weekends ago, I had the good fortune of having a couple of hours to spend with my son and his baby's mama. As we were already in East Greenwich, we decided to go for a hike in Goddard Park:

Goddard Park has many trails, and there is much variation with the seasons. It's close to my church and so we visit it often. The nice thing about hiking it with my son is that he used to have a summer job there when he was in High School as a Park Ranger, so he knows a lot of the history and the natural history of the park.

For this hike we parked across from the ranger station and walked towards the water, but going away from the back side of the bath house, so as to follow the trail along the Greenwich Cove part of the park. If you cut & paste the map link below, this hike followed the bridal path trail all along the cove, all the way to the Equestrian Center.

On this trail you can look across the cove and see the waterfront area of East Greenwich, but also in the water you will see many waterfowl going about their business, depending on the time of year.
My son told me about an awesome cedar tree along this trail, and eventually we happened upon it.

I like how from this angle it looks like the tree is sitting on the rock and very peaceful looking:

But on this side, it looks like the rock is sitting on the tree and it looks like the tree is struggling with the rock:

We also came across this flowering bush, which I have not identified yet, but I think it is part of the rhodoendron family:

One of the historical things that my son talks about is that this property was legendarily used as a safe haven in the Underground Railroad. This structure sits next to an old ice house and is close to a low area that connects right to the cove. It is very well maintained and lovely to look at (and take photos of).

On the bridal path we saw these 2 horses, they were absolutely gorgeous. I am one of those persons who adoringly love horses and all their beauty, but am terrified of riding on them, so I like to take pictures. One of the riders gave us some tips about hikers sharing the trails with horses, so I thought I would pass them along for you to keep in mind while hiking in Goddard Park.

If you hear horses approaching, you should call out in a friendly manner so that the horses know that you are happy people, not monsters lurking in the woods.
If there is a group of you, you should not split to both sides of the trail, but should all go to one side of the trail so that you don't make them nervous.

One of the things that the guys liked about hiking on the Bridal Trail were the many opportunities they had to play "Kick the Horsepoop Pile". One had an "artistic" way of doing it (his words, not mine), but the other one just liked to bash randomly so the game soon ended.

I love the many opportunities to examine different things to look at when I am out on a trail, don't you just love the shape of this deformity on this tree?

And the intricate manner in which these fallen cedar trees are so connected that it is hard to separate them with the eye. This trail is very shady from the many oak and pine trees that line it, but there is also a lot of fallen cedar along the edge of the embankment.

Towards the end of the Bridal Trail just behind the Equestrian center, we came into an area that had a wonderful amount of Lady's Slippers in bloom, we counted well over 50 plants in this area alone.

After reaching the end of the trail, we doubled back behind the Equestrian Center to find the road that loops through the park to take the short way home because our pregnant hiker was starting to get a little tired and still had her waitressing job to do that night. There are some very large grassy areas that we cut across to walk in a straight line where we saw some groups having picnics and playing games.

Just before we came to the golfing area we saw a large buck running. He was going ncredibly fast and we watched in amazement and tredidation as he leaped over 2 rock walls and made a beeline for Ives Road. Luckily he missed getting hit by any cars as he crossed that road and then leaped over another rock wall to go through the private property that is on the other side of that road. I have never seen a deer run so very fast, we are not sure what spooked him. And I was so scared for him that I could not even get my camera aimed to capture his beauty.

In this general area we found this beautiful sitting tree:

Our round trip walk was at least 2 hours, but you can shorten your walk by returning via the park road when you reach the parking lot at the boat ramp near the ice house.
This park is very busy on weekends during the summertime, but I have never been unable to find a spot to park my car. Also there are bathrooms open during the park "season" which I believe is the 2nd week in April through Columbus Day weekend. Near the Equestrian Center there is a pony ride for younger children, I do not know the cost of that, but I wish I was young enough to enjoy it, ponies are more my speed than horses.