Open to the Public
Excellent opportunities for hiking, fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. View All
Why You Should Visit
Surrounded by protected forest, Tillinghast Pond Management Area offers serenity and natural beauty that rank among the best in southern New England.
Tillinghast Pond’s waters are clear and shallow, perfect for a family paddle. Cast a line, explore the coves, or just float around and let the solitude recharge your batteries.
Tillinghast Pond Management Area is open to hunting, under rules written by the RI Department of Environmental Management. Hikers are required to wear fluorescent orange clothing (either a hat or a vest) from September 14 to February 28, and from April 19 to May 31.
****Please note that during shotgun season (December 7 - 22, and December 26 – January 2), hikers are required to wear a fluorescent orange hat AND a vest.
West Greenwich in western Rhode Island
The Conservancy, RIDEM, and the Town of West Greenwich are working closely together to establish Tillinghast Pond as a top hiking destination. Four interconnected loop trails provide for a wide range of options, from a short walk in the woods to a 10-mile day hike.
The 2.3-mile Pond Loop (blazed white) starts from either end of the Plain Road parking lot. The trail passes over easy, flat terrain around Tillinghast Pond, with ample opportunities to look for wildlife or simply enjoy the long views across the water. An observation platform is located roughly half way around the pond. The Pond Loop also includes three hayfields, which are leased to a local dairy farmer.
The Flintlock Loop (blazed yellow) winds for 2.6 miles through the open woods east of Tillinghast Pond, and is highlighted by a glacial “boulder garden,” a historic cemetery, and an 1830s-era farmstead. Start on the Pond Loop (white blazes) by the kiosk; walk for two tenths of a mile and look for the sign for the Flintlock Trail. The trail is also accessible from the small parking lot on Plain Meeting House Road, via an old farm road.
The Coney Brook Loop (blazed orange) takes hikers through a forest restoration site, past the stone walls of an early 1800s farm, and along the tops of glacial ridges, shaded by hemlocks and beeches. Coney Brook highlights the 2.3-mile route, rushing over a dam and through a small ravine. Start on the Pond Loop (white blazes) from the north side of the Plain Road parking lot and watch for the sign to Coney Brook approximately 500 feet ahead.
The Wickaboxet Loop (blazed blue) connects the Tillinghast Pond and Wickaboxet Management Area trail systems. Combining new woodland paths with old fire roads, the 4-mile trail provides a lot of variety for hikers and features two historic cemeteries and several well-preserved cellar holes. Park at the Plain Meetinghouse Road entrance and follow a farm lane for a half-mile to the trailhead. This trail is also accessible from the Wickaboxet parking lot and the West Greenwich Land Trust’s Pratt Conservation Area, at the end of Saddle Rock Road.
The half-mile Logger's Trail is a rough path through a wildlife restoration area. Seedling trees, pasture grasses, and berry bushes are abundant following a 2010 timber harvest, as are the songbirds that depend on such open habitat. The trailhead is about a tenth of a mile from the Plain Road parking lot, branching off from the Coney Brook Loop.
Please note: The red barn on Plain Road, and the house and garages across the street, are private property. There is no public access on the farm roads that pass next to those buildings.
The Nature Conservancy established a volunteer group called the Friends of the Preserves. We hope that volunteers assist with ongoing stewardship projects including trail maintenance, litter cleanups and removal of invasive plants. If you would like to become a Friend of Tillinghast Pond, please get in touch with Jeanne Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or (401) 331-7110, x4516.
Why the Conservancy Selected This Site
This preserve filled a critical gap in the land protection map, located between URI’s Alton Jones campus, the Wickaboxet Management Area, and the Arcadia Management Area. The protection of Tillinghast Pond was vital to the conservation of the surrounding forest and the pristine Wood River, which originates in West Greenwich.
What the Conservancy Has Done/Is Doing
The Conservancy is implementing a five-year trails plan that we co-wrote with our partners and the National Park Service, aiming to showcase the natural beauty and rural character of the area.
In 2010, we worked with two Rhode Island loggers to open up 40 acres of early successional wildlife habitat. These projects will increase habitat diversity on the property and are already benefitting hawks, eastern bluebirds, and American woodcocks. The Nature Conservancy is the only organization in Rhode Island to have its logging practices certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
The Nature Conservancy enjoys a fantastic partnership with Schneider Electric in West Kingston. Since 2010, Schneider employees have improved canoe access to the pond, installed interpretive signage, and built new hiking trails on twice-a-year Days of Action. In addition to providing work crews, Schneider has donated materials and tools, and helped us overcome design challenges. Many thanks to Schneider Electric – a tremendous community partner!
A trailhead kiosk greets visitors with an introduction to the preserve and its natural features. In addition, there is a public fishing area and canoe/kayak launch, located at the north end of the Plain Road parking lot.
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.
What to See: Plants
Both parking lots are surrounded by tall white pines, with occasional oaks and red maples. Several tree species are identified along the walking trail. Elsewhere on the property, there are pockets of Atlantic white cedar swamp, rhododendron, and hemlock, with another 60 acres maintained as open hayfields.
What to See: Animals
Birds such as the Scarlet Tanager, Baltimore Oriole, and Belted Kingfisher are fairly common around Tillinghast Pond during the summer. The property's ponds and wetlands also support beavers, otters, and numerous frogs, salamanders, dragonflies, and damselflies.
- From I-95, take Exit 5B - Route 102 North
- Follow Route 102 for 3 miles, past the West Greenwich Town Hall
- Turn left onto Plain Meetinghouse Road, follow for 3.5 miles
To the Plain Meetinghouse Road entrance:
- Pass the Wickaboxet Management Area
- Look for a small parking lot on the right
- The trailhead is a bar gate at the start of Narrow Lane
To the Plain Road entrance:
- Pass the Wickaboxet Management Area and the entrance to Narrow Lane
- Turn right at the next intersection, onto Plain Road
- Follow Plain Road for 1/2 mile to the parking lot on the right