Visitor Activities

Kayakers on the refuge - USFWS.
  • Hunting

    VA Hunting Image

    White-tailed deer, wild turkey, coyote, and fox hunting is offered in designated areas on the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge located in Charlestown, RI.  

    Learn more about our hunting opportunities. 

  • Fishing

    Fishermen with their catch - USFWS.

    Fishing on Ninigret Pond, the largest coastal salt pond in Rhode Island is a spectacular treat not only because of the fish available, but also because of the expansive vistas and gorgeous sunsets. Anglers may saltwater fish from the refuge shoreline in accordance with State regulations. In additions, anglers may saltwater fish and shellfish in Ninigret Pond from the refuge shoreline from legal sunrise to legal sunset, and in accordance with State regulations.  Each spring the refuge partners with the State to host an annual fly-tying workshop (held at the classroom at Kettle Pond Visitor Center) coupled with fishing in a cove along the trail to Grassy Point at the East entrance.

  • Wildlife Viewing

    Child looking through binoculars - USFWS.

    Spring and fall are favorite viewing times, although something will be seen at any time of year. Over 3 miles of nature trails, interpretive panels, kiosks, and viewing platforms combine to provide a unique and rewarding experience for the refuge visitor. The platform at the end of Grassy Point is particularly picturesque, and a great place to view a sunset.

    Kayaking and canoeing on Ninigret pond provide unique views of wildlife from the water, and our recently added kayak/canoe launch area is a perfect place for paddle boaters to start their tour. The launch is located off of the East entrance (through Ninigret Park). There is a short gravel road down to the water where you can drop off your kayak, and then return to the parking lot. At times we have volunteers who will help first-time visitors with their experience paddling around Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge.

  • Interpretation

    Event on the refuge - USFWS.

    To celebrate the rich history of the refuge, a variety of kiosks, interpretive panels, and educational materials are available to the public to enrich their visit and assist them in learning about the refuge and the wildlife which abounds there.

    At the east entrance of the Salt Pond Unit is the Trails Through Time trail. Trails Through Time brochure (pdf).

    Along the Grassy Point trail, several signs lead you through the history of the area from glacial re-creation about 12,000 years ago, through the Native Peoples era, the Colonial farming period, the World War II era as a Naval air field, and finally leading up to what you see today! The Trails Through Time is an enjoyable way to view the landscape through its various uses in the past.

    At the west entrance of the Salt Pond Unit, a usually quite section of trail leads you past Foster's Cove, through the restored runways where many white-tailed deer congregate in the evenings, and out to Fisherman's point for a nice view of Ninigret Pond and the barrier beach on the far side of the pond.

    The Cross Refuge Trail and the Charlietown Runway Trail connect the west and east entrances. The Cross Refuge Trail moves through some excellent birding locations with some fresh-water sources for the many migratory birds that stop here to rest and re-fuel.

    On the Headquarters Unit of Ninigret, where you will find Kettle Pond Visitor Center, there are two trails that leave the parking area and two others that connect to Burlingame State Park and Kimball Wildlife Sanctuary. The Watchaug Pond Trail is a favorite among birders, particularly since it ventures along the Audobon Society's Kimball Wildlife Sanctuary, Watchaug Pond, one of the best vernal pools in the State, and Burlingame State Park.

  • Environmental Education

    Environmental education on the refuge - USFWS.

    Many unique and enjoyable educational opportunities await the visitor to the Salt Pond Unit of Ninigret. Each of the five trails provides a fun and safe way to see and actually be in nature. With assistance from refuge staff, some groups have been able to don waders and do some seine netting. In their nets they always bring to shore amazing samples of plants and animals that lie just below the surface (and out of view) of Ninigret Pond. Other groups participate in bird walks with experienced staff and volunteers, and are treated to an array of wildlife, from deer to butterflies, that would be difficult to find anywhere else.

    At the Headquarters Unit of Ninigret NWR we have the impressive Kettle Pond Visitor Center. With an award-winning, environmentally-friendly building, and fabulous exhibits, Kettle Pond is a treat for all. There are four trails that make for ideal segways to the outdoors after an enlightening program in the classroom. Various school groups and scout groups have made Kettle Pond Visitor Center their home for their programs related to the natural world. With various programs offered throughout the year, including Wildlife Wednesdays, summer nature classes, and Green Cafés, there is something here for everyone and for all ages.

  • Photography

    Flowers on the refuge - USFWS.

    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, bluejay, 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.