Stepping Stone Falls - 8/26/2012
For the August outing the RI Sierra Club headed to one of its favorite spots in the state, Stepping Stone Falls. The club has been on this hike before and will likely do it again in the future. Its babbling brooks, lush forest, and lazy swimming holes always offer something unexpected, and regularly draw new hikers to the outing.
The hike commenced from the southern end of the trail where the Wood River intersects with Plain Road in West Greenwich. From the bridge at the trailhead parking lot a couple of people spotted trout swimming in the water below. The trail itself was level and relatively easy despite the many roots and rocks jutting up from its center. It brings hikers north up the Wood River. The river was peaceful and photogenic on the day of the outing.
People of all ages joined the hike including Annabelle of Providence who was headed back to elementary school the next week. Annabelle helped the group navigate the trail’s intersections expertly. She learned how to read blazes and kept the group on the right path each time it came to a fork. “I really like maps,” said Annabelle as she clutched the trail instructions, eagerly reading ahead about the next expected marker.
Once at the falls, the group divided. Some people scoped out a comfortable rock and enjoyed their lunches next to the relatively calm falls of late summer, while others got to swimming and exploring. Annabelle and her father Lorne, were the first to jump in. They sat at the base of a small narrow cascade of water that rushed over their shoulders. At one point Annabelle hid in the hollow behind the thin veil of water pouring over the rock so she was looking out at us from behind a watery window.
11 year-old Abel was more interested in what kind of wildlife he could find around the swimming hole. First, he reported back to the lunch eaters about a black and red water snake on the other side of the river. Surprisingly, this news did not scare many people out of the swimming holes. The snake was approximately two feet long and fairly thick in diameter. It slipped into the water upon realizing it was under surveillance. Further upstream Abel found a number of other creepy crawly critters including crayfish, frogs, and a spider whose thick hairy legs extended to cover an area the size of a fist.
Ruth and Jim, two more outings attendees, enjoyed the opportunity to cool off in the pools around the falls. Jim gave himself a mud bath during which he looked like an extra from a Rambo movie, while Ruth waded in the pools and experimented with the cascading water of the falls. At one point Ruth’s walking stick, which she left ashore while swimming, was stolen by a spunky dog that showed up with another group after the Sierra Club had arrived at the falls. Thankfully, the dog brought it back after a few seconds of running around with the huge stick hanging from its mouth. Except for a few teeth marks, no harm was done.
After finishing their lunches and drying off from their swims, the group returned to the trail and headed back to the parking area. The return trail was further up in the woods away from the river. Annabelle once again took the lead. While walking back along the trail, hikers encountered both the large and the small. First, two horses rounded a corner in the opposite direction of the outings group. The riders allowed the group to pet the horses; most people in the group took them up on it. Later, the tiniest of inchworms was spotted by Annabelle on the arm of another hiker.
After arriving back at the trailhead, people stuck around for a few moments saying goodbyes and “nice to meet you’s,” or reminiscing about some part of the hike. One thing everyone agreed on is that Stepping Stone Falls is a great way to invest a Sunday afternoon.
Sierra Club Rhode Island