Places We Protect

Moshassuck River Preserve

Rhode Island

A small river flows under a green forest canopy. Gray granite boulders line both banks.
Moshassuck River Preserve The Moshassuck River rises from its headwaters in Lincoln, RI and flows into Waterplace Park in downtown Providence. © Tim Mooney/TNC

This preserve reveals the beauty of the Moshassuck River, amid boulders and forest.

Overview

Description

The Moshassuck River Preserve has all the right ingredients for a quick escape into nature: a shady canopy of big hickories and oaks, giant glacial boulders, and a meandering river and feeder streams that invite exploration.

Once used as a Boy Scout camp called Camp Conklin, the preserve features three miles of freshly blazed trails, laid out over 210 rolling acres of New England hardwood forest. Just eight miles from downtown Providence, it already has the feel of a hidden gem.

The preserve is located between the Fairlawn Golf Course and the MacColl YMCA. And our neighbors have been generous and welcoming partners. We could not have opened this preserve to the public without their assistance in providing trailhead parking and establishing community hiking trail connections.

Dogs are permitted but must be leashed at all times.

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Trails still under construction. Please use caution.

Hours

Open year-round during daylight hours.

Highlights

Birdwatching, hiking, historic cemetery

Size

210 acres

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Photos from Moshassuck River Preserve

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

A tight cluster of 3 oak trees, standing by a small river.
Looking down on a large, flat, orange fungus growing from a tree stump.
Eight youth in waders walk waist-deep in a river, with long-handled nets and buckets.
A scientist's hand holds a large, alert, slate gray songbird with a black cap.
A low, loose wall of irregular rocks, with open woods behind it.
Bright red flowers arranged tightly on a single, 2-foot-tall stalk, with green ferns in the background.
Looking way up at a solid, leafy green tree canopy, with blue and white sky peeking through.
A brown, robin-sized songbird, with a white breast covered with black spots. It's beak is open to sing from a leafy branch.
At dusk, the dark surface of a small river reflects the tree canopy above. A cluster of large red maples stands on the left bank.
Looking down on a small orange-brown frog, well camouflaged against a layer of dried oak leaves.

Visit

  • Parking

    The parking lot is located on Sherman Avenue, near the intersection with Great Road. Look for an unmarked gravel driveway beside the clubhouse for the Fairlawn Golf Course ("Bogeys"). If the TNC lot is full, parking is also allowed in the golf course's lot. Please respect our neighbor's property and help us to strengthen this new partnership. 

  • Trails

    Note: This is a new preserve and some trail sections and stream crossings are still being evaluated for bog bridges and footbridges. Please dress for muddy or wet trails. 

    The trailhead is located in the corner of the parking lot, near the clubhouse for the golf course (Bogey's). Start down the wide lane between the first tee and the woods. Soon you will cross the Moshassuck River, with a stone dam and small mill ruins on your right. Proceed ahead on the Blue Trail. 

    The 3-mile trail system is divided between the Blue Trail, which loops around the northern half of the preserve, and the Yellow Trail to the south. 

    The Blue Trail follows the Moshassuck River, then rises to higher ground before winding back down through a boulder field. 

    The Yellow Trail crosses several tributary streams to the Moshassuck and passes a historic cemetery, with graves marked by plain fieldstones. Parts of the Yellow Trail are on YMCA property. Please respect the signage and keep to the preserve trail system. 

  • What to See

    Here in these protected woods, the hardworking Moshassuck River has a wild and natural feel. Find a riverbank perch and just take it all in. 

    Plants: Throughout this mixed hardwood forest, you'll find a high canopy of oak, pignut hickory, shagbark hickory and red maple. Most of the very large trees are red oaks, which grow well in damp soils. Witch-hazel and spicebush comprise much of the shrub layer, with a few blueberries mixed in. 

    Birds: The Moshassuck River Preserve is an important stopover site for many songbirds during spring migration. Scarlet tanagers, blue-gray gnatcatchers and many warblers rely on the preserve to rest and refuel. Many other songbirds are year-round residents or summer nesters, including gray catbirds, Carolina wrens, and Eastern wood-pewees. 

    Animals: Young American eels (called elvers) swim in from the Sargasso Sea and grow to maturity in the Moshassuck River. The preserve's streams and wetlands provide habitat for frogs and salamanders. Common woodland mammals in the area include white-tailed deer, Eastern coyote, striped skunk, and raccoon. If you're lucky (and quiet), you may find a red fox sharing the trail with you.

  • 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, including the portion of the trail system that crosses YMCA property.
    • 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.
Four glacial erratics clustered on exposed bedrock
Glacial erratics The last Ice Age deposited boulders across Rhode Island, but some are perched on bedrock or even propped up on pedestals. © Tim Mooney/TNC

History

The Moshassuck River Preserve is part of the traditional homelands of the Narragansett, Nipmuc, and Wampanoag peoples. Moshassuck, or “Mooshausick,” is a Narragansett word describing "the river where moose watered."

The Nature Conservancy established the preserve through a series of acquisitions in the 1990s, with the support of the RIDEM open space grant program, the Champlin Foundation, the Bafflin Foundation, and the AMICA Companies Foundation. TNC is grateful to the Conklin Lime Company, Building Systems, Inc, and the Guglielmi family for working with ...

The Moshassuck River Preserve is part of the traditional homelands of the Narragansett, Nipmuc, and Wampanoag peoples. Moshassuck, or “Mooshausick,” is a Narragansett word describing "the river where moose watered."

The Nature Conservancy established the preserve through a series of acquisitions in the 1990s, with the support of the RIDEM open space grant program, the Champlin Foundation, the Bafflin Foundation, and the AMICA Companies Foundation. TNC is grateful to the Conklin Lime Company, Building Systems, Inc, and the Guglielmi family for working with us to help protect the Moshassuck River.

The part of the preserve that was once owned by Conklin Lime hosted a Boy Scout camp for Troop 64, Pack 1, Saylesville. The Scouts maintained the trail system for many years. The Moshassuck River Preserve was formally opened to the public in September 2021.

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