Canonchet Preserves

Rhode Island

Open to the Public


Things To Do

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Plan Your Visit

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Why You Should Visit

The Borderlands landscape is the largest forested area between Boston and Washington, D.C.Flying over Connecticut and Rhode Island at night you’re likely to notice a dark gap along the states’ border, separating it from the bright lights of the rest of the Eastern Seaboard.

The Canonchet Preserves, located in the heart of the borderlands area, provides three trailheads for parking and hiking access to the 750 wooded acres of land owned by The Nature Conservancy and the Hopkinton Land Trust. Tomaquag Brook and Canonchet Brook, south fork originate in this area. Both watersheds were significant in pre-colonial use and contain pre-industrial revolution water powered mill sites. 

Much of the land is rugged hills and swamp capped with large boulders and outcrops that greatly limited farming.  Large oaks, tulip poplar, and white pine that have stood for several generations speak of the past. Other areas of the preserve were more recently cleared for agricultural use, causing a young forest of mixed hardwoods and evergreens to spring up. Streams and wetlands are scattered through the forests. 

Bowhunting for deer is permitted at the Preserve. During the bowhunting season (September 15-January 31), all visitors are required to wear at least 200 square inches of florescent orange.  A hat or vest is sufficient.  Dogs must be leashed.

**No hunting is permitted on the Hoxsie Preserve/Route 3 Main St. Trailhead parcel.**


Hopkinton in southwestern Rhode Island, just south of the Ell Pond Preserve.


750 acres

Canonchet Hoxsie Preserve Trail Map

Canonchet Preserves 3 Trailheads Trail Map

Why the Conservancy Selected this Site

The Canonchet Preserves adds a link to a chain of protected lands. To the east is the State of Rhode Island's Rockville Management Area, and to the west is Connecticut's Pachaug State Forest. Canonchet is one of the largest natural areas in southeastern New England and is part of the Pawcatuck Borderlands site, where the Connecticut and Rhode Island chapters of the Conservancy partner with state agencies, local land trusts, municipalities and individuals to protect the region's forests and promote enduring ecological management.

What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing

Working together with numerous volunteers and partners from the Hopkinton Land Trust, Hopkinton Conservation Commission and the Hopkinton Historical Association, new trails have been completed on the Hoxsie Preserve section, located on the southeast section of Canonchet Preserves.  

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The Rte 3 Main St Trailhead serves both Hopkinton Land Trust and TNC Canonchet Preserves properties. Most trails are in the upland woods with good winter views to the wooded swamp that follows Canonchet Brook South Fork. A dam and mill operated where Canonchet Trail crosses the South Fork via a stone bridge in the west. This western area is rugged with boulder upon boulder, glacial erratics and ledge outcrops. Walking past the stone walls, house and barn foundations, the old mill and extensive stone works at every turn along Canonchet Trail links you back centuries to those who came before. Canonchet Trail continues west and north to Stubtown Road, crossing other HLT and TNC Canonchet Preserves properties.

In places the terrain is steep and rocky, and the downslopes are littered with large boulders, so wear sturdy hiking boots. Use caution and wear orange if walking the preserve during hunting season. Some hunting activity has occurred in recent years even though The Nature Conservancy prohibits hunting on this preserve.

What to See: Plants
Oak, tulip trees, white pine, American beech, hickory, maple, witch hazel, blueberry, huckleberry, mountain laurel

We hope you enjoy visiting our preserves in any season. We ask that you please observe the following guidelines:

  • Stay on the walking trails, using marked trails wherever they exist.
  • Respect preserve open hours (one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset). Overnight camping is not allowed.
  • Do not ride horses, bikes or any motorized vehicle through preserves or on the trails.
  • Do not disturb bird nesting areas. Between April 15 and September 1, nesting areas may be off-limits to visitors. People or dogs can easily destroy a nest with one misstep.
  • Leave your pets at home, for the safety of the fragile ecology of preserves and as a courtesy to other visitors.
  • Contact our office in Providence to visit those preserves that have restricted public access because of their very sensitive flora and fauna. These places deserve special respect and are best visited only on guided field trips.
  • Do not remove any living materials from a preserve or disturb any vegetation.
  • Remove any trash you create and, if possible, any garbage that you see left by someone else.
  • When visiting Block Island or Prudence Island in the spring, summer and fall, dress in long pants and socks to avoid deer ticks. After any walk on a preserve, it is a good idea to check for ticks when you return home.
  • Be careful! Your safety is your responsibility.

Thank you for your help.

Preserve Visitation Guidelines

  • From 95 South, take exit 2, turn right at the end of the ramp, then turn left onto Route 3 South (Main St.). Continue for .75 miles.  Parking area is located on the right at the Preserve sign.



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