Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge offers fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, environmental education, and wildlife photography activities. The refuge is known for its glacial history as its headquarters sits on the Charlestown Moraine, the recessional moraine, and well as for its spectacular birding, especially during spring and fall migration. You can explore the life-like habitat dioramas in the visitor center, and take a 1/2 mile hike to Watchaug Pond, part glacial lake, part Kettle Pond.
National wildlife refuges offer us all a chance to unplug from the stressful daily life and reconnect with our natural surroundings.
The hiking trails at both the headquarters unit and Salt Pond unit of the refuge are open to the public from sunrise to sunset. There are special extended hours for fishing the cinder worm hatch during the month of May.
The Ocean View Trail, accessible from the Kettle Pond Visitor Center, is a 1/2 mile trail marked by 15,000 year-old ridges and depressions shaped by the great ice sheet. At the end of the trail is a tower where visitors are treated to views of Ninigret Pond, coastal shrublands, barrier beaches, and Block Island. This view ties into the exhibit theme of Kettle Pond Visitor Center, where habitats are "Individually Unique....Ecologically Connected. Same as our partners, programs, and wildlife!
At the east entrance of the Salt Pond Unit is the Trails Through Time trail.
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.
Other Facilities in the Complex
The Rhode Island National Wildlife Complex consists of 5, Providence Urban Partnership, and management of Sandy Point Island:
Rules and Policies
- The refuge is open from sunrise until sunset. Please stay on designated trails.
- Dogs, horses and other pets are not permitted. Leashed dogs are allowed at the Kettle Pond Visitor Center trails, except for on the Toupoysett Pond Trail.
- Bicycles and roller blades are not permitted.
- Kite flying is not permitted. During bird nesting season, kites resemble larger birds that could prey on young chicks. This can frighten adult birds potentially causing them to abandon their nests.
- The disturbance, destruction, or removal of wildlife, vegetation, and facilities are prohibited.
Additional regulations may be in effect. Please contact the refuge headquarters for more information.