Places We Protect

Queen's River Preserve

Rhode Island

A small river winds through a leafy green forest, with large, overhanging trees shading the surface.
Queen's River Preserve Rich in biodiversity, the Queen's River is part of the Wood-Pawcatuck National Wild and Scenic River system. © Mark Godfrey/TNC

The Queen's River is one of the most pristine streams in southern New England.



Why You Should Visit

The Queen’s River Preserve is a wonderful place for an easy stroll along forested trails to one of Rhode Island’s most pristine streams. The Queen's River -- a cold, largely forested stream with headwaters in West Greenwich -- forms the western boundary of the preserve.  

A looping trail system based on historic cart paths winds through the heart of the preserve. Highlights include a stone cellar hole, a historic cemetery, an actively managed hayfield and two lookouts on the Queen's River. 

Dogs must be leashed at all times. Bowhunting for deer is permitted at the preserve from September 15 to January 31. All visitors are required to wear a florescent orange hat or vest during the hunting season. Fishing is not permitted.

Why TNC Selected this Site

The Queen's River is considered one of the healthiest cold water streams in southern New England. Its watershed encompasses 23,000 acres of forest, farms and wetlands, including TNC's Cuttyhunk Brook Preserve and the Eppley and Fisherville Brook Wildlife Refuges, conserved by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. Because of the relatively undeveloped character of the watershed, the river supports a number of rare plants, freshwater mussels and dragonflies depend upon clean, cold, running water.

What TNC Has Done/Is Doing

The preserve's hayfield is leased to a local farmer, helping to maintain the town of Exeter's rural character. TNC continues to work with local landowners and partners to conserve land in the Queen's River watershed, focused on limiting development and maintaining cold water habitat by keeping the forest canopy intact.




Open year-round during daylight hours


Hiking, birdwatching, freeflowing river, hayfield


188 acres

Explore our work in Rhode Island

The Queen's River Preserve's main trail is a wide, flat dirt road, beginning at School Land Woods Road and running west to the river. The old cart path is shaded by white pine trees and passes a stone cellar hole on its way down to the river. As you stand on the bridge over the Queen's River in summer, look for brilliant red cardinal flower  blooming along the stream banks and ebony jewelwing damselflies dancing over the water. The trail ends at the bridge. The land on the opposite side is privately owned and not open to the public.

Returning from the river, visitors can turn right opposite a small pitch pine barren on the left. This trail runs southward into the preserve through stands of pine and mountain laurel. Along this trail you will pass a shrub habitat restoration area, with an open hayfield beyond it. Another right turn at the dedication sign for Howard's Trail leads back downward toward the Queen’s River.

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.
  • 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 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.

What to See: Plants

The preserve’s uplands are composed of white pine stands, oak forest and hayfield. An unusual pine barren community occurs on the preserve as well. This habitat, characterized by pitch pine on open, largely unvegetated sand, occurs in only a handful of places in Rhode Island. Significant areas of wetland are also present, including red maple swamp and a dense leatherleaf shrub bog.

What to See: Animals

Mussels, dragonflies and wild brook trout abound in this cold, clear river, which flows through the forests and fields of Exeter. Ebony jewelwing damselflies, with vivid emerald green bodies and velvety black wings, flutter about the stream banks. Studies also indicate a great diversity of other aquatic invertebrates, including freshwater mussels, mayflies and stoneflies.