Places We Protect

King Preserve

Rhode Island

Close-up of a small granite outcrop with water from a seasonal stream spilling over the top.
King Preserve In early spring, seasonal streams bring this forested preserve to life, flowing toward the Narrow River. © Jeanne Cooper/TNC

This preserve helps protect the Narrow River estuary, for people and wildlife.

Overview

Description

The King Preserve is a flagship preserve of The Nature Conservancy. Just 5 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, it offers a shady South County alternative to the nearby sand and surf. 

A 3-mile trail system slopes gradually toward the Narrow River estuary, framed by cart paths and stone walls. Bog bridges and stream crossings enhance the trail experience and enable visitors to walk safely through these rich, damp woods. Most of the structures were built thanks to Schneider Electric, which provided volunteers and financial support.  

Dogs are permitted but must be leashed at all times. 

King Preserve is open to archery hunting for deer, under rules updated annually by RIDEM.  Hikers are required to wear fluorescent orange from September 15 to January 31. 

The King and Benson Preserves are managed in partnership with the Narrow River Land Trust.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Dogs are permitted, but must be leashed at all times.

Hours

Open year-round during daylight hours.

Highlights

Hiking, birdwatching, hunting, views of Narrow River

Size

161 acres

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Photos from King Preserve

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

Bright red flowers arranged tightly on a single, 2-foot-tall stalk, with green ferns in the background.
Bright green skunk cabbage leafing out on a streambank.
Bright green leaves emerging from bronze-colored, cigar-like buds.
Two volunteers crouch over a newly built footbridge on a muddy wooded trail.
A scientist's hand holds a large, alert, slate gray songbird with a black cap.
Portrait of a gray-haired white man in a fleece jacket with his dog
Looking through a double row of tall spruce trees, lining a narrow dirt lane.
Looking up at a large white and brown raptor soaring overhead, with outstretched wings and a yellow eye.
A cluster of wildflowers with yellow centers and loosely arranged white rays around them.
Looking down on a small orange-brown frog, well camouflaged against a layer of dried oak leaves.

Visit

  • Parking

    The main parking lot is located on the west side of Boston Neck Road (Route 1A), opposite Griffith Road. Please observe the no parking signs on Boston Neck Road. Additional parking is available on Snuff Mill Road, at the Narrow River Land Trust's Benson Preserve. The two preserves share a single trail system. 

  • Trails

    The main entrance is located on Boston Neck Road. A trailhead kiosk greets visitors with an introduction to the preserve and its hiking trails. The 3-mile trail system slopes gently toward the shoreline of the Narrow River, also known as the Pettaquamscutt River. 

    Julia's Trail (blue) starts at the edge of an old field, then enters a hardwood forest of large maples and oaks. The middle section follows an old cart path, with impressive stone walls on both sides. 1.0 mile. 

    The Stoney Brook Trail (yellow) loops through the interior of the preserve and features several stream crossings. Low bog bridges carry hikers through seasonally wet areas. 1.5 miles.

    The Pettaquamscutt Trail (white) leads to the Benson Preserve trailhead on Snuff Mill Road. This trail passes through a double row of tall Norway spruce trees and also provides access to "Girl Scouts Beach."

    A public restroom is located at the main parking area on Route 1A. This amenity was funded by a grant from The Champlin Foundation.

     

     

  • What to See

    The King Preserve helps connect more than 700 acres of conserved land, including Casey Farm and the Benson Preserve. Stitched together, they provide habitat for a wide range of plants and animals. 

    Plants: Red maples and tupelos dominate the high canopy of this mixed hardwood forest, with oaks and beeches also present in drier soils. High-bush blueberry, witch-hazel and spicebush comprise much of the shrub layer. Some areas have a dense ground layer of hay-scented ferns. 

    Birds: The King Preserve is an important stopover site for many songbirds during spring migration. Scarlet tanagers, Baltimore orioles, blue-gray gnatcatchers and many warblers rely on the preserve to rest and refuel. Summer nesters include fish-eating ospreys, and their piercing whistle can be heard overhead.  

    Animals: The Narrow River is home to one of southern New England's most productive spring runs of river herring. The preserve's streams and wetlands provide habitat for frogs and salamanders. Common woodland mammals in the area include white-tailed deer, Eastern coyote, fisher, mink, and raccoon. 

  • Preserve Guidelines

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

    • Stay on marked trails.
    • 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.
    • 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.
A small stream with skunk cabbage growing on its banks.
Welcome Spring Clear, cool, babbling streams wind through the King Preserve and empty into the Narrow (Pettaquamscutt) River. © Tim Mooney/TNC

History

The King Preserve is located on the traditional homelands of the Narragansett people. The Indigenous name for the area is Namcook. It was included in the so-called Atherton Purchase of 1659, in which colonial business agents used a dubious "deed of gift" to acquire all of the land between Narrow River and Narragansett Bay.

TNC established the preserve in 2016, having acquired the property from the Girl Scouts of Southern New England with support from The Champlin Foundation. 

The King Preserve is located on the traditional homelands of the Narragansett people. The Indigenous name for the area is Namcook. It was included in the so-called Atherton Purchase of 1659, in which colonial business agents used a dubious "deed of gift" to acquire all of the land between Narrow River and Narragansett Bay.

TNC established the preserve in 2016, having acquired the property from the Girl Scouts of Southern New England with support from The Champlin Foundation. 

The King Preserve is named for Dave King. As the first director of The Champlin Foundation, he helped bring TNC and DEM into a statewide partnership that has conserved more than 30,000 acres, from Rodman’s Hollow to Tillinghast Pond. He also played an important role in the Girl Scouts’ acquisition of the property in 1989, and he would be delighted to know that families are exploring it.

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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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