Grass Pond provides a habitat for a number of unusual dragonfly and damselfly species.
Dragonfly Grass Pond provides a habitat for a number of unusual dragonfly and damselfly species. © The Nature Conservacy

Places We Protect

Grass Pond Preserve

Rhode Island

Grass Pond provides a habitat for a number of unusual dragonfly and damselfly species.

Why You Should Visit

The ponds, wetlands, and wooded uplands provide habitat for a number of unusual dragonfly and damselfly species, including the rare Ringed Boghaunter.  A short loop trail passes a small woodland pool, goes through black oak-white pine forest, and then rises up to a high point amid rocky outcrops and dense shrubbery.

Access to the Pond itself and its wetlands is restricted due to the sensitivity of the animals, plants and natural communities.

Grass Pond Preserve is open to hunting, under rules written by the RI Department of Environmental Management. Hikers are required to wear fluorescent orange during the hunting season. Please consult the RIDEM Hunting Abstract for current hunting regulations.

Dogs must be leashed.

Why TNC Selected this Site

Grass Pond Preserve provides habitat for globally declining and state endangered plant and insect species. It also links together two large protected natural areas: the State of Rhode Island's 2,300 acre Carolina Management Area and the 1,800-acre de Coppet Estate.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

In 1986, Grass Pond was identified by the Rhode Island Natural Heritage Program as one of Rhode Island's top ten unprotected natural areas. By 1996, The Nature Conservancy, with support from the Champlin Foundations and private donors, preserved uplands and wetlands at the site. Today, one of the Conservancy’s goals is to continue to expand the size of the existing preserve. In 2012, another 250 acres to the east were added to the preserve, protected by a conservation easement held by The Nature Conservancy and the RI Department of Environmental Management acquiring ownership of the new parcel. The Nature Conservancy has expanded the trail system to include a loop trail blazed in blue on this parcel.

A short walking trail marked with yellow blazes loops through the northern portion of the preserve. The trailhead to the preserve begins at the preserve sign along an unpaved path located off Wilbur Hill Road. Follow this path then take a left onto the loop trail.

The new, 1.5-mile blue loop trail, located on the eastern portion of the preserve travels on land owned by both The Nature Conservancy and RI DEM can be accessed via old Wilbur Hill Road (unpaved) or via Ellen Brady Drive. Please note hunting for deer is permitted on both parcels from September 15 through January 31.  Visitors must wear blaze orange while visiting the preserve during this time.

What to See: Plants

Notable plants at Grass Pond include Atlantic white cedar, bog sedge and cranberry and globally-declining and state-endangered species such as horned rush.  Access to the Pond itself and its wetlands is restricted due to the sensitivity of the animals, plants and natural communities.

What to See: Animals

A number of rare insects include the Hessel's hairstreak butterfly in forested areas, dragonflies such as the elfin skimmer and ringed boghaunter in bogs and sedgy areas and two coastal plain damselflies, the pine barrens bluet and the New England bluet. Although these insects spend much of their time in the wetlands, keep an eye out for them along the upland trail as well.

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.
  • Be careful! Your safety is your responsibility.

Thank you for your help.