A wolf tree and a hanging rock (glacial boulder) anchor this easy, lovely, short hike through the woods in Richmond, Rhode Island.
Know Before You Go
Length: 1.5 mile
Map: Bradner Preserve Trail Map
Notes: Wearing orange is recommended
Our Preferred Route:
This trail is pretty simple, but there are a few deer paths and paths from homes that require you to pay attention to the trail markers. The loop from the trail head to the Wolf Tree, then up and around Hanging Rock (a large, precariously-balanced rock left by glaciers), and finally back down the main trail is a simple, quick, and lovely stroll through the woods and wetlands.
Musings on Bradner & the Great Wolf Tree
Hiking through this preserve in the summertime, I was struck by fields of rippling green ferns and bright moss. Turning the corner from a field of ferns to this wolf tree actually took my breath away. It’s dying – in the process of returning to the forest – but it somehow felt like the life of the forest. Pictures don’t do it justice, it’s something that has to be felt.
Wolf trees are trees that are older – sometimes 100 or 200 years older – than other trees in the surrounding area. They’ve seen generations of wildlife pass through and under their branches; they add immense wisdom and value to the forest. Wolf trees were misunderstood by early foresters, who sought to eliminate these beautiful, elegant trees at the end of their life cycle in order to make room for more profitable, younger trees. Now, though, their contributions to the health and beauty of the natural world are generally more appreciated.
“These giants provide a location for animals to communicate via scent marking, and have attractive features like large limbs, decaying limbs, wide branching patterns, wrinkled bark, and cavities. The relatively young surrounding forests don’t have these diverse characteristics, proving that these relics from another time are truly anchors to the forests we experience today.” – Berkshire National Resources Council
Read more about Bradner Preserve & plan your trip:
- Bradner Preserve Trail Map
- Explore Rhode Island’s Blueways and Greenways: Bradner Preserve
- Trails and Walks Rhode Island: Bradner Preserve