BURRILLVILLE/NORTH SMITHFIELD – Explorers from across the state and beyond are invited to visit land trust trails – including two right in northern Rhode Island – and search for creatures through a challenge with RI Walks this summer.
Thirty different creatures have been hidden along the state’s nature trails, including a smiling ginkgo leaf, purple pitcher plant and maple seeds. The nature-inspired cut steel sculptures were designed by an artist with the The Steel Yard, a Providence-based non-profit industrial art center and studio.
Coordinated by the Rhode Island Land Trust Council, RI Walks is a program that encourages Rhode Island residents and visitors to get outdoors, take walks, spend time in nature and enjoy the special places that land trusts, municipalities and the state are conserving.
“The challenge is designed to entice people to get outside and explore nature while enjoying land trust trails, the perfect way to reduce stress and anxiety and improve health,” noted a release on the effort.
And two such trails in northern Rhode Island are included in the challenge.
In North Smithfield, creatures can be found at Rocky Hill Road Conservation Area, an easy .7 mile trail protected by the North Smithfield Land Trust. The trail features bridges, old stone walls and scenic wildlife, and can be accessed just cross from 382 Rocky Hill Road.
The Bobcat Loop on the Burrillville Land Trust’s Edward D. Vock property, a recently opened one-mile trail with historic features on Jackson Schoolhouse Road in Pascoag, is also included. The BLT held a grand opening of that trail earlier this month, with a guided tour showcasing the rich history of the land, owned by the Volk family until the trust purchased it in 2008.
Additional land trust-managed trails spanning the state, from Cumberland and Smithfield, to Narragansett and Warren, are also taking part in the DIY scavenger hunt. A complete list of participating trails and the local land trusts that manage them can be found at https://www.riwalks.org/challenge-creatures.php.
Participants are challenged to find all 30 creatures, and log in to RI Walks to track them, or snap a selfie or picture of each creature found, and share it on Instagram and Facebook using the tag #RIWalksChallenge.
Each plant-life inspired structure, from the Sweetgum seed pod to the Chanterelle mushroom, has a QR code to snap to get more information about the creature, the trail and the trust.
“These creatures can be difficult to find, but when you see one, you’ll know that you’ve found a very special place,” notes a write up on the activity.
“The idea came from a desire to attract people to take walks outdoors and help them connect with nature,” said Rupert Friday, executive director of the statewide Land Trust Council. “Now that summer is here, it’s a great time to explore new trails with your family and friends and – when you find one of the creatures – share a photo on social media and inspire others.”
A printable pdf checklist showing all 30 creatures can be found at https://www.riwalks.org/documents/Creature-List.pdf.