Places We Protect

Ell Pond Preserve

Rhode Island

Mountain Laurel
Mountain-laurel Mountain-laurel (Kalmia latifolia) © Kent Mason

One of the most challenging and beautiful hikes in Rhode Island.



Why You Should Visit

This land's beauty lies in its contrasts - forested valleys dip between rugged bedrock ridges. From atop rocky cliffs, you can see spectacular vistas, views of Long Pond and Ell Pond nestled in a deep hollow below. A rich diversity of plants and animals flourish among unique cedar bog and wetland habitats in the valley.

Why TNC Selected this Site

The preserve abuts lands owned by The Audubon Society of Rhode Island and the state of Rhode Island. In 1972, The Nature Conservancy purchased Ell Pond to add a link to a growing web of contiguous protected lands in Rhode Island.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

Ell Pond Preserve 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.





Mountain laurel and rhododendron bloom at the preserve in mid-June.


50 acres owned by TNC; 218 acres owned by Audubon Society of RI

Explore our work in this region

The terrain is often steep and slippery. You may walk over rugged rocks and cross several small swamps. The site is co-owned and managed by the State, Audubon Society of Rhode Island and The Nature Conservancy. The majority of the trails lie on Audubon property to the east and the state’s Rockville Management area toward the south side of Long Pond.  Be sure to wear blaze orange if walking on state property during hunting season.

What to See: Plants

The preserve is beautiful at any time of the year, but especially in mid-June when mountain laurel and rhododendron blooms. There is no access to Ell Pond due to the sensitivity of habitats there. Ell Pond's wetland is an example of classical succession. Each concentric zone of vegetation represents a stage in its history. Over the course of thousands of years, more of the wetland is likely to fill in and become wooded swamp.

  • The open water area (the innermost ring) is surrounded by a quaking bog mat containing leatherleaf, cotton-grass, cranberries, pitcher plants and sundews.
  • The bog mat is surrounded by a narrow band of bog forested by stunted Atlantic white cedar.
  • The outer swamp zone consists of red maple.
  • Surrounding woodlands are dense with great rhododendron and mountain laurel.

What to See: Animals

White-tailed deer, red fox, raccoon, opossum, red squirrel, hooded warbler, worm-eating warbler, black rat snake, bobcat.

Preserve Guidelines

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.
  • Wear water-resistant hiking boots with ankle support. Please stay on trails.
  • Be careful! Your safety is your responsibility.

Thank you for your help.