Located on the western edge of South Kingstown is the Great Swamp Management Area. During King Philip’s War in 1675, it was the site of a battle that decimated the Narragansett Indians. This is not something to be proud of in my opinion, just a sad fact. Today, the 3,349-acre Great Swamp comprises mostly freshwater wetlands that are dominated by maple and cedar swamps. About one third of the area is forest.
This habitat supports a variety of wildlife and is a bird watchers paradise. During the spring, ducks, geese, and other waterbirds nest in the marsh and ospreys return to nests atop utility poles. Rabbits, deer, fox, coyote, raccoon, muskrat, mink, grouse, wild turkey, pheasants, frogs and other amphibians also make their home here.
Great Swamp Trail Bike Tour:
This is a 6 mile loop trail that travels through woodlands and circumnavigates a large wetland. There are optional inner loops and a side spur trail that leads to Worden Pond. Worden Pond happens to be the largest natural lake in the State and the site of a World War II-era airplane hangar.
It's an easy mountain bike ride on flat, wide roads that turn into double-track trails along the way. Tall trees provide shade along the road at the start. In the spring (the best time for bird watching), you are sure to be seranaded by a chorus of songbirds along the route. When you arrive at the marsh, waterfowl, ospreys, and swallows do the lead vocals.
To explore the "Great Swamp Trail", take the right fork at just under a half mile from the starting point and then fork right again. Follow the trail as it traces the western shoreline of the marsh. At the next major junction, you can either take the left fork for a shorter ride back to the trailhead or bike onwards to complete the "Great Swamp Trail" mountain bike journey.
To continue, take the right fork and remain on this path until you reach a three-way junction. Turn right onto a path that travels through an area dotted with large boulders and low ledges. In less than 1/2 mile the trail ends at an old seaplane hangar at the edge of Worden Pond.
The view is fantastic so do take the time to look over the hangar and the shallow, 1,000-acre pond. Reeds flourish along the shoreline. The shallow water and silty bottom of Worden Pond promote heavy weed growth. According to the Rhode Island Division of Fish and Wildlife, this weed growth makes an excellent fish nursery. Baitfish are plentiful and the bass population is healthy. The chances are good you'll also see some ducks, swans or other waterfowl. You may also spot chewed-off saplings, tell-tale signs of beaver presence in recent years. When you are ready, head back to the three way junction. You can either fork right to head back to the trailhead or continue to explore other paths.
King Philip's War was a general Indian uprising in 1675-1676 to resist continued expansion of the English colonies in New England. It was the bloodiest of the Indian wars in terms of relative casualties, and several tribes were virtually or totally eliminated. Six hundred colonists were killed, which included about one-fifth of all the men fit for military service. Philip was the Christian name assigned to Metacomet, the sachem of the Wampanoag Indians. Massachusetts colonial settlers frequently referred to the Native chiefs as Kings.
For more information:
Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area
Phone: (401) 789-7481