The relatively flat sandy areas are covered with pines, scrubby oaks, and blueberries, reminding me of the sandy forests of northern Wisconsin (above). The glacial outwash sands in both Rhode Island and Wisconsin are responsible for the similar appearance and vegetation.
The sand dries up quickly, so plants must be adapted to drought, especially up on Bald Hill (Really? That was a hill?). Not many species can tolerate the dry conditions, so there is not much diversity, and most of the woods are rather open, often covered with a low layer of heaths such as Huckleberry, or pine seedlings.
Arcadia is crossed with miles and miles of sandy roads and unmarked trails, along with a few trails that are actually blazed for hiking. Arcadia Trail (above) is one of the few that has been blazed. The trail maps at the park are nearly useless, since there is a labyrinth of unmarked trails and it can be difficult to know where you are on the map. This is one place a gps receiver comes in really handy. So I naturally lost mine towards the beginning. It's still out there somewhere. The best map I've found online is here. You need to download it and crop to the area you want to explore.
The park was not at all crowded. Over the coarse of seven hours of hiking on a Friday, I passed one hiker walking her dogs, one mountain biker, and two groups on horseback. That's it. The forest is a management area, so there is hunting and possibly logging, and dogs need to be leashed during bird nesting season. I'm sure the healthy forest is due in no small part to the fact that the forest is managed. Over the many miles I hiked, I saw only native species. How refreshing! I can't remember the last time that happened.
Browning Mill Pond in the center of the park is an attraction. The ponds again remind me of northern Wisconsin, a pothole region, although these ponds are actually reservoirs.
This Indian Cucumber Root was growing near the pond.
Heading off-trail for a bit, I came upon yet another grid-like series of rock piles on a ridge. Some people think these ridge-top piles were placed by Native Americans for spiritual ceremonies. Others think they were put there by farmers, either White or Native. Since I only find the piles on ridge tops where I would not expect the best farmland to be, I tend towards the first explanation.