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5 Great Spring Hikes in RI’s Wildest Places

Friday, May 17, 2013


RI's wildlife refuges are beautiful spots for hikes that are fun and interesting for everyone.

It's a beautiful weekend for getting out in the fresh air, and we've got 5 great hikes for all ages and fitness levels that take advantage of five of Rhode Island's pristine wildlife refuges. So get wild and get out there.

Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge

2.5 miles, Middletown: This easy seaside hike is pleasant any day of the year. Deer abound on this refuge as well as a monitored coyote pack. Migrating wildlife of all sorts are seen here regularly. Ample parking is available at this easily accessible refuge as well as at Second Beach. The trail is well maintained, easy to traverse, and pretty much totally level.   Benches have been placed here and there for a break, to enjoy the view, have lunch, whatever.  A visitor center has public rest rooms, natural history exhibits, and, during the summer months, conducts educational programs.  A warden is often on duty.  The refuge closes at sunset and reopens shortly after dawn most days. http://www.fws.gov/sachuestpoint/

Fisherville Brook Wildlife Refuge

.3 miles to 1.5 miles, Exeter: Spring is a wonderful time to visit this refuge. You will find the brown landscape turning to green, birds singing, and frogs croaking. Fisherville Brook is a large refuge, with over 900 acres of protected habitat, open space and trails. Families will find three trails marked out at Fisherville, ranging from .3 miles to 1.5 miles – providing pleasant hiking for nature lovers of all ages and abilities. All kinds of wildlife make this refuge their home, with a great variety of habitats including ponds, streams, meadows and tall pine groves. The refuge also has a beautiful waterfall, footbridge, and historic cemetery. Fisherville’s Split Rock Trail is a very popular hiking destination. Pardon Joslin Road, Exeter. Note: Some of Fisherville’s trails are somewhat long for children younger than 10. Most trails are open from dawn to dusk, 7 days a week. http://www.asri.org/refuges/fisherville-brook-wildlife-refuge.html

Maxwell Mays Wildlife Refuge

3 miles of 2 looping trails, Coventry:  Opened in October of 2011, the Maxwell Mays Wildlife Refuge is the newest of the Audubon Society's Wildlife refuges. This refuge contains diverse and high quality wildlife habitat consisting of upland forests, wetlands, streams, ponds and open meadow. The 11-acre Carr's Pond, situated entirely within the bounds of the property, is the centerpiece of the preserve. It is home to river otters as well as many types of freshwater fish and aquatic invertebrates. Members of the RI Hiking Club recommend good footwear for this hike, and wearing blaze orange for safety. 2082 Victory Highway (RI 102) Coventry. http://www.asri.org/refuges/maxwell-mays-wildlife-refuge.html

Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge

2.5 miles, South Kingstown:  Look for unique birds and salt pond views on these wide woods and farmland trails. This 787-acre refuge is home to 300 species of birds, more than 40 types of mammals, and 20 species of reptiles and amphibians throughout the course of the year. Trustom Pond itself is the only undeveloped coastal salt pond in Rhode Island, closed to all human activity. The eastern end of the barrier beach at the southern edge of the refuge is known as Moonstone Beach, a former nude beach and now a nesting site for piping plovers. The refuge contains 2.5 miles of carefully positioned hiking trails that pass through a variety of wildlife habitats—fields, shrub lands, woodlands, fresh- and saltwater ponds, beaches, and dunes— without disturbing the wildlife. Schoolhouse Rd, South Kingstown. http://www.fws.gov/trustompond/

Block Island National Wildlife Refuge Trail

1.5 miles, Block Island: In addition to the always fascinating sights and sounds of the ocean, this hike along a sandy beach road that wraps along the dunes of the island's northernmost tip includes two points of historical interest: Settlers Rock, where the island’s original inhabitants landed with their cattle in April 1661, and North Lighthouse, the fourth lighthouse on this point, built in 1867. You'll skirt the 127-acre refuge all along the way, and kids will be amazed at the number of birds here: this is an important stopover point for many migratory birds and home to many others, including a number of rare and endangered species. http://www.fws.gov/blockisland/


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barry schiller

These are all excellent suggestions for hikes and walks, but closer to the mtro area I would also note:
scenic Chase Farm conservation area in Lincoln, 2 short (but hilly) loops plus a garden; Powder Mills Leges Audubon Sancturary in Smithfiled where after a hike one can walk to big-time shopping; th Monastery grounds in Cumberland where after a walk one can drop in on the local public library; and in Seekonk, just over the state line, line, RI Audubon's Caratunk sanctuary which has an extensive trail system with much variety.

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