Trot off your turkey

Trot off your turkey

Land Trust Council hosts Thanksgiving weekend walks

Whether you’re trying to burn off a whole pumpkin pie or you’re looking for an alternative to the Black Friday shopping madness, grab your hiking boots and get outside for some fresh air this Thanksgiving weekend.

Join one of seven guided walks on conserved green spaces, hosted by land trusts around the state, including in Cumberland, Glocester, and Scituate, as part of the Rhode Island Land Trust Council’s Land Trust Days Encore event taking place Friday, Nov. 29, through Sunday, Dec. 1.

“There’s a lot of research talking about the health benefits of being outdoors, in nature, and walking,” said Rupert Friday, of the R.I. Land Trust Council. “After a large meal, which a lot of people have on (Thanksgiving), it’s a good way to burn off some of those calories.”

The walks are a great way to spend time with family and friends, or if there’s family turmoil happening at the holidays, it’s a good excuse to get out and take a break, he said.

Locally, the Cumberland Land Trust is hosting a walk at Mercy Woods on Friday, Nov. 29, at 10 a.m., while the Glocester Land Trust will lead a family-friendly walk at Steere Hill in Harmony also Friday, Nov. 29, at 10 a.m. On Saturday, Nov. 30, at 10 a.m., join the Scituate Land Trust for a walk at Westconnaug Meadows.

“I think we’re lucky that we have so many nice hiking trails,” Debbie Mitchell, board member of the Cumberland Land Trust and president of the R.I. Land Trust Council, told The Valley Breeze. “We like to see people get out there and enjoy them.”

This is the third year the council has hosted organized land trust walks on Thanksgiving weekend. Friday, who said walking before Thanksgiving dinner was a family tradition when he was growing up, said the outings have been really successful so far, appealing to people who are looking for something to do besides watching football or shopping.

Despite some inclement weather last year, 75 people showed up to the walk in Cumberland, he said.

With many land trust properties free and open to the public year-round, folks are also encouraged to go on a “Do It Yourself” walk. The website features trail maps for dozens of land trust properties, and lets you search to find trails that best fit your interests and abilities.

In Cumberland, the two-hour hike through Mercy Woods will be a leisurely one, between 2.5 to 3 miles depending on the group, said Mitchell, who lives in Cumberland. “We don’t go too fast,” she said, adding that people should wear proper shoes.

Those who walk the trails will usually see a lot of stone walls and wildlife, including deer, fisher cats, and turkeys, she said.

Last week Mitchell said Nov. 29 was looking like it would be a beautiful day: sunny and in the low 40s, which is perfect hiking weather.

The town of Cumberland acquired Mercy Woods in 2018 from the Sisters of Mercy, who had it for approximately 100 years, Mitchell said. The Cumberland Land Trust and Pawtucket Water Supply have conservation easements on the property, she said. There are about 5 miles of walking trails that loop in a circle.

No registration is required, but Mitchell said people are encouraged to reach out so they can get an idea of how many people to expect. Let them know via the R.I. Land Trust Days Meetup group, on Facebook, or email Mitchell at .

Walkers should meet at the intersection of Sumner Brown Road and Wrentham Road. Parking is available.

For those who want to walk on their own time, there are other Land Trust spots in town in addition to the Monastery, which has more than 7 miles of hiking trails, Mitchell said. Visit the Cumberland Land Trust’s website for maps of the different trails.

Roy Najecki, a trustee of the Glocester Land Trust and a Glocester resident, said he encourages people to join the walk at Steere Hill.

“It’s here for you to enjoy,” he said of the property. The two-hour hike, which is approximately 2.5 miles, will take walkers over a 19th-century stone dam, rocky ridges, past American beech trees, a 25-acre meadow and a 17th-century cemetery, up a hill, on an old farm road and back to the parking area, Najecki said.

“The vista (from) the top of the hill is quite something to behold,” he said.

Steere Hill, which contains more than 400 acres of land and 5 miles of trails, is a very popular place for people to walk, according to Najecki. It used to be an apple orchard until 1962, he said, and walkers will see a few of the trees that still bear fruit in the fall.

“If you’ve never been to Steere Hill, (come) see a part of Glocester you’ve never seen before,” he said, adding that the property is open year-round for passive activity. There’s no hunting allowed, and in the winter people can go snowshoeing.

Another property to check out, he said, is Sprague Farm, in the western part of Glocester, which contains a lot of old farmhouse foundations, as well as miles of beautifully built stone walls. The farm dates back to Colonial days.

No registration is required. Meet at the parking area on Route 44, across from the Harmony Post Office. The walk will take place unless it’s snowing or heavily raining that day, he said.

For a full list of the walks and more information, visit .

Hikers on a past walk at Mercy Woods hosted by the Cumberland Land Trust. They are hosting a day-after-Thanksgiving walk at that location on Friday, Nov. 29, at 10 a.m.