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By Paul Lonardo
“In wilderness I sense the miracle of life, and behind it our scientific accomplishments fade to trivia” – Charles A. Lindbergh
You can’t miss the entrance to Georgiaville Town Beach, Dam and Gorge. The large parking lot is clearly visible from the turnoff on Stillwater Road. One look and you realize that this location has a lot more to offer than a scenic walk. For one thing, there are plenty of spots to fish from along the banks of the water, and small boats can be easily launched from a permanent boat ramp.
A visit to this location can be taken any month of the year and enjoyed. In warmer weather, however, you can take full advantage of the modest beach as well as the magnificent view as you look out across of the sun-dappled surface of Georgiaville Pond. On hot summer days, the ringing of bells from ice cream and lemonade trucks can be heard no matter where you are on the pond.
The beach may be small, but it is the perfect size for small children, who are safely corralled by floating markers in the water to restrain waders from going out very far in any direction. During the season, there is a lifeguard on duty.
While this cozy little beach and fishing pond has long been enjoyed by Smithfield residents for many summers, Georgiaville Town Beach saw major renovations in 1991 that improved the restroom facilities, created a boat ramp, and added picnic tables and benches, which are neatly arranged around a small, grassy common area in front of the beach.
This is a scenic walk you will want to stroll slowly because it is quite short and also because the view from the wide, flat trail lies on a raised embankment that provides a spectacular view of the 92-acre pond and a tiny green island floating like a mirage some hundred yards out. In the summer, you will find an array of beautiful wildflowers, which bees, butterflies and dragonflies can’t seem to resist, growing up the sides of this earthen dam walkway. There are no trees to obscure your vision as you make your way past the beach along the trail, which comes to an abrupt end at a gated spillway, where a cascading waterfall tumbles effortlessly over a dam and into a magnificent rocky gorge. If you make your visit after a heavy rain, you will see a deluge of raging water hurtling through the narrow ravine.
The dam was built back in the mid-19th century, though it has been renovated several times through the years. You can go off the main trail if you want and follow the river as it narrows and wends through the woods, but do so with great care. There are precipitous drops along portions of the gorge, as well as bramble and other underbrush, including patches of poison ivy, along the bank, which you will want to avoid. The adventurous will be rewarded by passing through an abandoned picnic ground, beside the remnants of a stone fireplace, and into a stand of old-growth beech trees, whose barks are very thin and scar easily, excellent for carving names and dates – which you are sure to find examples of if you look closely at the trunks.
There are clearly marked signs posted all around the pond specifying where various activities, including swimming, fishing and boating, can be done safely. While the beach closes for the season and the restroom facilities are not open year-round, visitors are always welcome every day until dusk, when the pond closes.
There is certainly a lot to do at Georgiaville Town Beach Dam and Gorge, but should you find a painted stone during your visit in these next couple of weeks, don’t skip it across the surface of the pond. Put it in your pocket and hang onto it to possibly win a prize.
This is the sixth installment in our Seven Scenic Walks in Smithfield series. The final installment is also in this issue, so be sure to read the article on Mercer Lookout a couple pages ahead to find out what to do with the rocks you have collected from each location and how to claim your prize.