Hiking at King Preserve

Hiking King Preserve

Turning the hike into an obstacle course was part of the fun.

I don’t know how it is for other people, but for me, hiking with kids was not something I did too much of until mine were 7 and 9 years old—which is to say, we’ve just begun.

In prior years, even short neighborhood walks were met with groans of boredom and exhaustion while our home was still in sight. Still, the boys were always interested in veering off road and cutting through the woods to a pond near our house (surrounded by those burrs that stick to every soft surface they touch).

So after trying a 2.5-mile loop a couple months ago that brought us out to Rome Point, I thought we might try King Preserve, a conservation area that is owned by the Nature Conservancy and has trails that lead out to the Narrow River. I promised ice cream at the end as a further incentive.

Bridge at King Preserve

These wooden platforms helped keep our feet dry along the way.

Walking King Preserve

Fighting evil crocodiles was part of our mission.

We headed out on a pleasant April afternoon, with perfect hiking temps in the low 70s. King Preserve, which opened this past fall, has a parking area for perhaps a dozen cars on Boston Neck Road, and freshly marked and maintained trails that wind through the woods along a historic cart trail, and over and around stonewalls. April is definitely still mud season in North Kingstown, and the trail had a few soggy spots that could have benefited from the boards that were laid out in some particularly muddy areas. Still, we kept our sneakers fairly dry, and met a few couples, mostly heading back to the parking area, as we ventured along. A few folks were walking dogs, which are permitted on leash.

The kids enjoyed discovering new plants along the way.

Not having a Fitbit or an innate sense of time and distance, I can’t say how far it was from the parking lot to our final destination, Girl Scout Beach on the Narrow River. Plus we slowed or stopped altogether for photo ops, fighting evil crocodiles, climbing rocks, and examining budding ferns or checking out the skunk cabbage growing in what looked like an old riverbed. My poor sense of timing, direction, and three-dimensional space is a source of embarrassment for me, particularly since I WAS a Girl Scout and had in fact been to King Preserve when it was still a Girl Scout camp, Nokewa. I’m sorry the scout camp is no longer in existence, but I am very glad the property is conserved and open to the public.

Narrow River - Girl Scout beach

We reach the head of the Narrow River, a saltwater estuary.

In any case, rather than navigating by the heavens as I might have done in my scout days, I now navigate by instinct—for whether or not a walk in the woods is going to be too long for my 7-year-old. Once we had sufficiently explored the beach and decided to turn back towards the car, even the prospect of ice cream was not enough to spare us some long moments of consternation about the distance of the return journey. Still, eventually he recovered, and we made the walk back a race against the unsuspecting couple strolling a few yards behind us (“We have to beat them back to the car … they’re catching up!”).

With ice cream shops to the north and south of King Preserve on Route 1A, and other destinations including Rome Point and Gilbert Stuart Birthplace nearby, this area is a nice spot for a long or short family outing.

How we feel at the end of the hike.

Want to discover more places like King Preserve? Check out Know. Go.

— Monica Allard Cox, Rhode Island Sea Grant Communications Director