Places We Protect

Beaver River Preserve

Rhode Island

A wide, rocky stream rushes through the bare winter woods.
Wild & Scenic The Beaver River is part of the Wood-Pawcatuck National Wild and Scenic River system. © Tim Mooney/TNC

Explore a rocky forest protecting the Beaver River for people and nature.



The Beaver River Preserve offers two short hikes, starting from separate trailheads on Fox Ridge Drive and Hillsdale Road. The Fox Ridge side is moderately strenuous and rocky, winding through a boulder-strewn forest. The Hillsdale side is more gentle, with old pastures, oak woods and a beautiful pine grove.

The trails are fairly short at 1.5 miles each, but both offer views of the river and a large, open wetland, which was a beaver pond until an old dam breached in late 2023. However, the trails do not connect across the river at this time. 

The trail tread is rugged in places, with rocks and roots, and narrow, uneven bridges over wet areas. Watch your step and let the quiet beauty of the forest reveal itself.

Dogs must be leashed. Bowhunting is permitted on this preserve from October 1 to January 31. All visitors must wear a fluorescent orange hat or vest during the hunting season. 



Dogs are permitted but must be leashed at all times.


Open year-round during daylight hours


Hiking, birdwatching, scenic pond views


266 acres

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Photos from Beaver River Preserve

Tag your preserve visits on Instagram with #BeaverRiver to have your photos featured here!

A thick tree trunk covered with moss and lichen in a rocky landscape.
Silhouette of a dark evergreen tree growing amid bare oak trees.
A single red berry growing from a tiny green vine on the forest floor.
Sticks and branches piled three feet high or more, holding back a pond.
A large round granite boulder covered with light green lichen and dark green moss.
Large woodpecker clinging to a tree trunk, with black wings, white face and red crest.
A turtle with a domed yellow and black shell and orange neck and eye.
A tall tree stump, cracked open to reveal a hollow center.
Rectangular orange and white metal sign mounted on wood posts bearing the words Beaver River Preserve and the TNC logo.
A small evergreen fern with deeply cut fronds growing out of a bed of moss.


  • There are two parking areas for this preserve. The Hillsdale trailhead is located at 350 Hillsdale Road. Look for a gap in the stone wall and pull into the short driveway.

    The Fox Ridge trailhead is located at the end of Fox Ridge Drive. Hikers may park on either side of the street, but please respect our neighbors' privacy.

    Both parking areas are marked by an orange and white entrance sign. 

  • Note: This preserve is less frequently maintained than TNC's larger preserves, and trails may be seasonally wet, muddy or overgrown. Sturdy hiking boots are recommended.

    Hillsdale—Blue Trail (1.5 miles): This loop trail starts as a wide farm road, weaving through an old horse pasture. The trail eventually narrows and splits as it enters a forest of hardwoods and pines and gradually slopes down to the river. 

    Fox Ridge—Yellow Trail (1.5 miles):  Starting beside the entrance sign, the trail enters a rocky hardwood forest. A quick right turn leads to a scenic view over the Beaver River valley followed by a short downhill scramble. The trail straight ahead starts off rugged but takes gentler route around the base of the hill. Both ways lead to an old cart path that ends at the remains of a large beaver dam, with a view of the river. 

  • The Beaver River Preserve helps protect one of Rhode Island's healthiest coldwater streams and provides habitat for a wide range of plants and animals. 

    Plants: The Beaver River Preserve features a highly diverse, second-growth forest community. Oaks and birches dominate the tree canopy, with scattered groves of tall white pines and hemlocks. The shrub layer is generally comprised of black huckleberry, giving way to sweet pepperbush in wetter soils.

    Birds: All of Rhode Island's native woodpeckers can be found on the preserve, from pileated to downy, taking advantage of the many standing dead oaks. The ponded section of the Beaver River attracts tree swallows in summer and hooded mergansers and other ducks in winter, as long as there is open water.

    Animals: Beavers continue to play a key role in shaping the preserve's ecosystem. Other common woodland mammals in the area include white-tailed deer, eastern coyote and red fox.

  • We hope you enjoy visiting TNC’s preserves in any season. We ask that you please observe the following guidelines:

    • Stay on marked trails and be careful not to trip on rocks and roots.
    • Dogs are permitted but must be leashed at all times.
    • Respect preserve 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 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.
    • Dress in long pants and socks to avoid deer ticks. After any nature walk, it is a good idea to check for ticks when you return home.
    • Be careful! Your safety is your responsibility.
A large gray boulder covered with green lichen, resting on a much smaller stone, tucked underneath at right.
Pedestal Boulder The last Ice Age deposited boulders across Rhode Island, but some are perched on bedrock or even propped up on pedestals. © Tim Mooney/TNC


The Beaver River Preserve is part of the traditional homelands of the Narragansett people.

The Nature Conservancy established the preserve in the early 2000s, with a loop trail through the woods off Fox Ridge Drive. The trail leads visitors to the ruins of a colonial-era grist mill and bypass canal. 

In 2022, TNC acquired an additional 52 acres of fields and forest on the east side of the Beaver River, in partnership with the Richmond Rural Preservation Land Trust. A new parking area and trail loop opened off Hillsdale Road in 2023, with help from Schneider Electric, Marshall Building & Remodeling, the UConn Outing Club and TNC volunteers. 

Nearby Preserves

Need more nature? Visit TNC's other trails in South County!

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

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