A small river flows through the forest at dusk. The glassy black surface reflects the ferns and tree canopy.
Moshassuck River Preserve The Moshassuck River rises from its headwaters in Lincoln, RI and flows into Waterplace Park in downtown Providence. © Tim Mooney/TNC


New Hiking Trails Open at TNC’s Moshassuck River Preserve

Perfect for family hikes, the new preserve offers a quick escape into nature, with tall hickory and oak trees, giant boulders and a meandering river.

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

The Nature Conservancy announces the opening of its 25th nature preserve in Rhode Island, the Moshassuck River Preserve. Formerly a Boy Scout camp called Camp Conklin, the new preserve features three miles of freshly blazed trails, laid out over 210 rolling acres of southern New England hardwood forest.

According to TNC, increased public interest in outdoor recreation was one of the main factors behind the decision to open the preserve. Owned by TNC and protected from development since the 1990s, it has been managed primarily as wildlife habitat, without a formal parking area or trailhead until last month.

“We’re so excited to open the Moshassuck River Preserve to the public,” said Scott Comings, associate state director for TNC’s Rhode Island chapter. “TNC maintains about 90 miles of trails in Rhode Island, and the number of visitors is way up on all of our preserves. We are thrilled to able to offer the community a new place to enjoy nature.”

TNC credits the abutting landowners for their help in resolving potential roadblocks to opening the preserve. The Fairlawn Golf Course voluntarily built a 15-car parking area for the preserve, with a shared entrance off Sherman Avenue. The course also provided machinery and three staff to help install new preserve signage. Meanwhile, the MacColl YMCA accommodated existing, historic trails that leave the preserve and cross onto YMCA property. The YMCA and TNC agreed that the matter could be addressed through signage rather than relocating the trails.

“The Fairlawn Golf Course and the YMCA have both been amazing partners to work with,” said Cheryl Wiitala, TNC’s preserves manager. “We couldn’t have done it without them, and we’re looking forward to doing more together.”

The trailhead for the three-mile trail system is located near the golf course’s first tee. 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.

Dogs are permitted on the preserve but must be leashed at all times, for the benefit of wildlife and the safe enjoyment of other visitors.

Since 1964, The Nature Conservancy TNC has helped protect more than 35,000 acres of outstanding wildlife habitat in Rhode Island, including the Aust Family Preserve at Lime Rock, also in Lincoln. TNC established the Moshassuck River Preserve with support from RIDEM’s open space grant program, the Champlin Foundation, the Bafflin Foundation, the AMICA Companies Foundation and individual TNC donors.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 76 countries and territories—37 by direct conservation impact and 39 through partners—we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.