Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge
Northeast Region

Visitor Opportunities

Hours of Operation:

The trails of the refuge are open to the public every day from sunrise until sunset.Symbol indicating facilities are wheelchair accessible.All restrooms, visitor centers and most of the viewing platforms and trails are wheelchair and stroller accessible. Here at Trustom Pond NWR, the platforms at Otter Point and Farm Pond are barrier free, but the platform at Osprey Point has a short set of stairs. However, please call ahead for any weather-related and maintenance-related accessibility issues.

Trustom Pond Contact Station is also open every day and during hours when there are volunteers available to staff the station. Generally the hours are 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM every day. Sometimes our volunteers will be out on the trails to assist our visitors, and the contact station may be temporarilty closed while they are away. The trails are always open during daylight hours, regardless of whether the contact station is open or not.

Kettle Pond Visitor Center is a great place to become familiar with (or to review) the habitats and wildlife you'll see at Trustom Pond NWR. It's located in nearby Charlestown, RI and is open everday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM, except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Please call ahead for very infrequent and unexpected closures of the visitor center or refuges, and the current weather conditions (401-364-9124).

Environmental Education:

The Friends of the National Wildlife Refuges of Rhode Island conduct an award-winning environmental education program with participants from many elementary schools in Southern Rhode Island. The program seeks to educate schoolchildren, through classroom curricula combined with field-based tours and study, about the importance of barrier beaches and the natural environment. To view the Barrier Beach Curriculum, please visit the following site: In addition, there are year-round walks and talks conducted by both volunteers and staff who are eager to share their enjoyment of nature with you. Those public programs and many more are listed on our home page under Latest News and Happenings.

Environmental Education - EarthCache

An EarthCache involves using a GPS unit to go to a certain location. Before going to the location the user needs to research the EarthCache and perform the educational lesson at the site. Visitors to the refuge EarthCaches will discover unique land features, geological processes, and a treasured landscape.

Approximately 20,000 years ago the last ice age ended. The geography and landscape of Rhode Island and New England is a direct outcome of glacial retreat. Go to the EarthCache page for more information and a quiz.


A small portion of the refuge is open for Canada goose and dove hunting during regular open seasons established by the State of Rhode Island. The hunting program on the refuge is administered by the Rhode Island DEM Division of Fish and Wildlife. The following link will lead you to a map showing the location of the hunting area: Trustom Pond Nationial Wildlife Refuge Hunting Area.


There are many interpretive panels along the trails and at the viewing platforms, offering visitors an “ah-ha” moment as they learn about what they are seeing. These panels also offer younger visitors an opportunity to practice their reading skills in front of their adult hiking partners. There are also knowledgeable volunteers, and some research materials at the contact station to answer those questions that aren’t explained by the interpretive panels.

Wildlife Observation and Photography:

The refuge has all of the amenities for our visitors’ enjoyment. A visitor contact station is located at the main parking lot, and is staffed by a group of dedicated volunteers who willingly share their knowledge and information about the refuge with our visitors. Several photographs taken by local photographers are displayed at the contact station, and the Friends group holds an annual photography contest in the Fall, click on their web site to check on the announcements for the contest: Friends of the National Wildlife Refuges of Rhode Island. Over two miles of nature trails, four viewing platforms, and several interpretive panels create ideal conditions for visitors to view wildlife in a natural setting.

The following information about whate you might see along the trail at Trustom Pond NWR was excerpted from:

Rhode Island Coastal Adventure Trail: Coastal Birding Trail.

Commonly Seen Species

All of the refuges of the Coastal Birding Trail have special species you may encounter. However, there are many northeast bird species that occur anywhere and everywhere in this region. Among the species you will almost certainly see, most of the year, even if you only stop at a couple of refuges are the Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Downey Woodpecker, Blue Jay, White-breasted Nuthatch, Gray Catbird, Northern Mockingbird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Brown-headed Cowbird and American Goldfinch. Coastal area regulars include Herring, Great Back-backed and Ring-billed Gulls, Sanderlings, Mallards and American Black Ducks, Pie-billed Grebes, Belted Kingfishers and Great Blue Herons.

Winter brings the wide-spread appearance of Golden-crowned and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, White-throated Sparrows, Dark-eyed Juncos, and along the coast, Common Loons, Horned Grebes, Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Golden-eyes, Ruddy Ducks and all three Scoters. In spring and summer Common Terns, Great and Snowy Egrets, Green herons, Ospreys, Greater Yellowlegs, Dowitchers, Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers and Semipalmated Plovers are easy to find near the water, while in the woods and fields Eastern Phoebes, Eastern Kingbirds, Tree and Barn Swallows, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, American Redstarts, Chipping and Song Sparrows, Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds are abundant.

Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge – South Kingston, RI

Trustom Pond is one of the two or three best birding spots in RI and one of New England’s best. More than 300 species are seen here every year. The habitats include fresh water and saltwater ponds, swamps and marshes, native grasslands and coastal woodlands. Trustom Pond is heavily used by neo-tropical migrants in April and May and by large flocks of wintering waterfowl in the fall and winter. There are plenty of eastern birds here year round.

Take the entrance trail through a woodland, past the kiosk with a large map of the refuge. In the woods, in spring look for Common Yellowthroat, Yellow-rump, Yellow, Blue-winged and Black and White Warblers as well as White-eyed Vireos. You will shortly reach a trail junction. Turn left. There is a grassland on your right and woods on your left. The woods hold many varieties of warblers and sparrows along with Cedar Waxwings, Eastern Towhees and occasionally a Bobwhite and Ring-necked Pheasant. The grasslands are home to Tree Swallows, Eastern Meadowlarks and Bobolinks in summer.

Continue along this path to reach the Farm Pond. Here you will find early migrants such as Savannah Sparrow, Orchard Oriole and Green Heron. Eastern Kingbirds frequent the pond in summer. Watch for American Kestrels and Osprey overhead. There is an observation platform and a small dock at the pond. They are good places to look for some large Snapping Turtles among the water lily pads. Please do not feed the turtles. A rough trail circles the Farm Pond and Orange-crowned Warblers and Grasshopper Sparrows have been reported on the back side of the pond in recent years.

When you leave Farm Pond you will pass through a woodland. At the next trail junction bear left and up a grassy slope onto an old farm road. Swamp Sparrows, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Willow Flycatchers are sometimes mixed with warblers on this path. When you reach a clearing, with an old pump, watch for Baltimore Orioles in spring. Ahead on the left is a bench and the first view of Trustom Pond. In this cove, almost anytime, are Pie-billed Grebes, Black Ducks, Wood Ducks, Belted Kingfishers, Tree and Barn Swallows and Northern Harriers. Just ahead is an observation platform from which to see a wide array of wintering waterfowl including Ruddy Ducks, Canvasbacks, Northern Pintails, Common Goldeneyes, American and Eurasian Widgeons, Hooded and Red-breasted Mergansers, Green-winged Teals, both Scaups, Horned Grebes and Coots.

Walk to the end of the spit that juts into the pond for more ducks. To your right is another cove where a Wilson’s Snipe, Greater Yellowlegs, Pectoral Sandpipers and Marsh Wrens are sometimes seen. Across from this point is an island that hosts nesting Ospreys from April to September. Watch to the east for Northern Harriers cruising over the fields. This is a very busy bird area, but if wintering ducks aren’t around, don’t worry. They will show up on the other side of the pond. We will get there shortly.

Return the way you came to the trail junction at the foot of the grassy slope and bear left. This trail leads through a red maple swamp. When you emerge you will be in what is often a warbler hot spot. Along this trail look for more of the warblers already mentioned as well as Brown Thrashers and, in winter, Eastern Bluebirds. Continue along this trail through shrub habitat and coastal woodlands. In the woods, Hermit Thrushes, ring-necked Pheasants and Barred Owls have occasionally been seen. It is a good area for Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets in fall. When you reach the next trail junction, bear left to reach Trustom Pond again.

Watch on both sides of the trail for the ducks previously mentioned. To the right, in the reeds, Great Blue Herons and Black-crowned Night Herons are sometimes wading. Stop at the handicapped observation platform and scan the pond for waterfowl. During migration, Snow Geese are regular visitors to Trustom Pond. Barnacle, White-faced, and Ross’ Goose have also been seen recently on the far shore during migration. Look also for the Least, Common, Forsters and Roseate Terns and a variety of Gulls. Northern Harriers (all year), Ospreys (spring and summer) and Rough-legged Hawks (winter) are often seen over the fields on the far shore of the pond. Continue along the path to the large observation platform at Osprey Point and look again for waterfowl and raptors. An Osprey nest is visible on the small island east of the platform and you will get a good view of the barrier beach backdune in front of you. Look across to the breachway in the dunes (closed most of the year). Snow Geese often congregate here during migration and waders such as Dunlins, Greater Yellow-legs and Dowitchers sometimes strut along the pond shore. The return trip from Osprey Point to the parking lot is a little less than a mile.

Last updated: January 10, 2012