Goosewing Beach Preserve

Explore one of Rhode Island’s most exquisite coastal ecosystems at Goosewing Beach Preserve, a sandy barrier beach along grassy dunes and the waters of Quicksand Pond in Little Compton. This glacier-carved environment isn’t just a beautiful place for a secluded beach day or a revitalizing seaside walk; it’s also important habitat for threatened birds that has been preserved by The Nature Conservancy.

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Features

Benjamin Family Environmental Center and Quicksand Pond from Goosewing Beach Preserve in Little Compton, Rhode Island

Stop by the seasonal Benjamin Family Environmental Center, located next to Quicksand Pond, to learn more about the rare and important habitats of Goosewing Beach Preserve.

Escape the crowds for the serenity of windswept dunes and crashing waves at Goosewing Beach Preserve. Although it’s just down the shore from the popular sands of town-owned South Shore Beach, this coastal nature preserve feels like a hidden secret, remaining quiet even in the summer months.

Grab a patch of sand for yourself and spend the day swimming, beachcombing, or fishing the shoreline, which is studded with rocks dropped off by glaciers that shaped this region. Take a walk on the trails along the south end of Quicksand Pond to discover grassy dunes beneath wide-open skies, or learn something new about this special protected habitat at the seasonal Benjamin Family Environmental Center.

Trails

Goosewing Beach Preserve can only be publicly accessed by way of South Shore Beach. After parking in the South Shore Beach lot, walk east down the shoreline. Goosewing Beach Preserve begins just after eastern border of Tunipus Pond, and is marked by Nature Conservancy signs.

Walking trails begin behind the small cedar building at the entrance to the preserve. They first lead north to the Benjamin Family Environmental Center. From there, you can walk east on a small network of paths through the dunes. (Note: The land on the eastern and western side of Quicksand Pond is private property. Please respect these private lands by remaining on the south side of Quicksand Pond and the beach.)

The dunes and edge of Quicksand Pond are extremely fragile nesting spots for local birds. To protect them, please stay on the trails, keep out of marked and fenced-off areas, and leave dogs at home during the bird breeding season (April 1 – September 1).

Habitats & Wildlife

Quicksand Pond is the largest natural salt pond on Buzzards Bay. Storms periodically break through Goosewing’s barrier beach, allowing salt water to flow into the pond. This creates a unique ecosystem that supports a variety of fish, birds, amphibians, and even mammals like river otters. The Coalition monitors the health of Goosewing Pond through its Baywatchers program to help keep an eye on this unique coastal habitat.

The dunes and shoreline of Goosewing Beach are one of five places in Rhode Island where globally rare piping plovers are known to nest. Least terns, a state-threatened bird, also nest here. Both of these species nearly went extinct in the 1900s due to hunting and habitat destruction, but careful management over the past few decades has enabled them to make a slow but promising return. Goosewing Beach’s shores also see wintering populations of seals and are a popular place to fish for striped bass in the spring and summer.

Property Owned By

Founded in 1951, The Nature Conservancy is a global nonprofit conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, TNC creates innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together.

Details
Size: 75 acres
Hours: South Shore Beach open 5am to 11pm; Benjamin Family Environmental Center open June-August (seasonal hours vary; check Facebook for current year's schedule
Parking: Large paved lot at South Shore Beach; fee to park, Memorial Day – Labor Day
Cost: $15/day weekdays, $20/day weekends, free with resident sticker
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Dogs: Yes (Prohibited April 1 - September 1)
Facilities: Learning Center (seasonal)
Boat Ramp: No
Lifeguards: No
ADA Accessible: No

Please follow all posted rules and regulations at this property.

Address & Contact Information
South Shore Road
Little Compton, RI 02837
41.497099, -71.128046
The Nature Conservancy Rhode Island: (401) 331-7110
Email: ri@tnc.org

Please follow all posted rules and regulations at this property.

Goosewing Beach Preserve
Little Compton, RI
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Sun, September 29
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Conserving land is one of the most important ways to protect clean water in Buzzards Bay. Since 1998, the Coalition has forever preserved more than 7,000 acres of land across our region.

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Bay Health: Quicksand Pond

Quicksand Pond in Little Compton is Buzzards Bay’s largest natural salt pond. A barrier beach typically separates the pond from the Bay’s open waters except for when storms break a channel through the beach. Quicksand Pond’s relatively remote location has helped prevent pollution in the past, but local residents have recently noticed changes. Monitoring began in 2016 to get a picture of the pond’s health, which is currently in fair condition.

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