South County Nature Trail

The South County area of Rhode Island stretches from scenic coastal communities along Narragansett Bay and the Atlantic Ocean to pastoral villages and inland forests and farmlands. Its strong Native American heritage can be seen everywhere in the names of towns, villages, streets, ponds and rivers. Its Colonial heritage is reflected in a landscape filled with historic homes, churches, farms and seemingly endless stone walls. Its history as a seaside resort destination dates back to the 19th-century and continues today.

The South County area of Rhode Island is a nature lover's dream. Miles of pristine coastline, thousands of acres of woodlands and nature preserves, ocean beaches, freshwater ponds and meandering rivers await visitors who appreciate and respect the gifts of nature. Follow this trail for a natural experience you'll never forget.

Kimball Wildlife Sanctuary
A 29-acre property gem located on the southern shore of Watchaug Pond. The land abuts Burlingame State Park, and trails lead from the refuge to the state land. Perching and shore birds abound. Trailing arbutus in spring. Wonderful scenery and pleasant hiking trails. Off Route 1 at Windswept Farms, Charlestown; 401-949-5454;

Barn Owl

University of Rhode Island, Coastal Institute Visitor Center
Provides a focal point for the university's diverse marine education, training and outreach programs. The Coastal Institute Visitor Center features an interactive science exhibit, bookstore and educational offerings for schools, teachers, tour groups, tourists and the general public. Visitor Center and Coastal Institute Bookstore, Monday, Wednesday 11 a.m.-1 p.m. South Ferry Road, Narragansett; 401-874-6211;

Burlingame State Park
The park has 3,100 acres of rocky woodland surrounding Watchaug Pond in Charlestown. The entrance to the park headquarters and camping area is off U.S. Route 1 just south of the entrance to the Naval Auxiliary Landing Field. Rather extensive picnic facilities, 73 fireplaces, toilets, drinking water, swimming beach and bathhouse make this one of the most popular state recreation areas. First-come, first-served basis. Reservations available for camping cabins only. Route 1, Charlestown; 401-364-8910;

Burlingame State Park

Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge
Ninigret Refuge consists of over 400 acres of diverse upland and wetland habitats including grassland, forestland, shrubland, wooded swamps, freshwater ponds and a small stretch of barrier beach. Occupying part of a former U.S. naval air station, the refuge borders on 1700-acre Ninigret Pond, Rhode Island's largest coastal pond. Sunrise to sunset. Route 1, Charlestown; 401-364-9124;

Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge

Frosty Drew Observatory
A unique facility for providing hands-on experience in observational astronomy. Friday, sunset-midnight. Clear weather only. 61 Park Lane, Charlestown; 401-364-9508;

Ninigret Park
This 227-acre park features a state-of-the-art playground, ball fields, 10-speed-bike course, tennis and basketball courts, picnic areas and a freshwater swimming pond with public beach, lifeguards on duty (seasonal). Dawn-dusk. Route 1A, Park Lane, Charlestown; 401-364-1222;

Area Map

Trail Information

South County Tourism Council - 4808 Tower Hill Road, Wakefield


Great spots for snapshots.

  • Narragansett Sea Wall - Great view of the rocky coastline and the open Atlantic Ocean
  • Watch Hill - Historic landmark community with a picturesque lighthouse and incredible sunsets
Off the Trail

Great side trips for outdoor fun:

Arts and Antiques

Side trips for that one-of-a-kind find:

Taste Buds

Tasty tips along the trail.

  • Local favorites: Clam chowder, clam cakes, fish & chips and stuffies (scrumptious baked stuffed clam shell)
  • Jonny cakes - Don't miss these griddle-cooked cakes made from local corn meal made since colonial times
  • Famous for: Fresh-from-the-ocean lobster and seafood delicacies.
Shopping Bag

Here are some tips on shopping along the trail.

Trail Mix

Did you know.

  • George Washington portrait painter Gilbert Stuart was born in North Kingstown
  • Theatre-by-the-Sea in Matunuck once drew performers such as Mae West and Marlon Brando
Curtain Call

Top off the day with an outstanding performance along the trail: