Maxwell Mays Wildlife Refuge

OK, so it’s technically not in Foster – but its RIGHT over the line.   And if you’ve done the loops at Parker Woodland and are looking for something new, take a short jaunt down RI-102 to the Maxwell Mays Wildlife Refuge.

I spent an hour or so on New Year’s Day at the Refuge, and although I saw five or six cars in the lot when I arrived, I only bumped into a few small groups of people.  There’s plenty of parking, probably 30 cars or so.   While I didn’t see a kiosk that had maps, you really can’t get lost – it’s a big loop attached to another big loop.   Trail map is here.

It’s right off Rt-102, an easy exit off 95 or Route 6.

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The paths are smooth and easy, and despite a few wet areas (wear good shoes), nothing lived up to the hype of the “Beaver Flood” signs.

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It was similar in a lot of ways to Parker Woodland, although not as traveled.  After a short walk through slightly rolling oak and white pine, you’re treated to the first gem; an overlook of a wide shallow valley.   Down below is a stream, I’m sure at sunset the deer were packed in.  You’ll cross at the head of the valley, then head steeply up for a bit towards Hammit Hill.

The second gem was the pond.   At 11 acres its big enough to be more than swampy, and there are some nice views.   Skip trying to find your way to the waterline for two reasons – one, it’s a wildlife refuge, so stay on trail, and two, there are thickets of bull briar that would make it nearly impossible.

Another highlight was the nearly-reclaimed cellar hole right alongside the trail.

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After crossing over a couple of inflow streams, the loop trail heads back towards the parking area, passing a neat stone chimney and an historic cemetery.

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You could make this a short of a long walk; there’s 2 loops, and the 2nd loop has a cutoff trail.   There’s no picnicking (or running, or dogs, or horses) but I’m sure sitting for a few minutes to admire the trees, or watching the otters play is fine.

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