Jennifer N. on Great Swamp Trail
Personally, this is my favorite place to hike in South County. Coming from Colorado, where you can wander for weeks on all the forest service roads, I needed to have a place to just wander, zone out and not worry about where I was going. The Great Swamp is perfect for that. My dog (leashless from August to March!) and I love the wide trails and access to water. There are several options for loops, which are great for just wandering--you never get lost! The wide loop by the swamp is absolutely beautiful with its wide-open views, something that seems hard to find here in RI, where most everything is thickly wooded. I do worry about all the hunting going on in the fall and winter, but we made sure everyone including the dog was wearing orange, and it seemed pretty safe.
I disagree with the trail Overview regarding mountain biking. We have hiked the trails around the Great Swamp dozens of times and rarely have seen a biker. The dirt road trails are quiet and easy to follow, and you can do various loops from 3 miles to 7+ miles depending on how much time you have. The longest loop will take you to an old seaplane dock on the edge of Worden's Pond, then around the no-name L shaped pond inside of the swamp. If you enjoy ospreys, there are multiple nests on that pond (this year 4 or 5 nests, maybe up to 10 birds) during their season here from April to Sept. It's also a nice place to bring dogs, but as someone mentioned earlier it is a State Management area and hunting is in season for much of the year. Keep your dog leashed and wear your blaze orange vest/hat/jacket/whatever. Link to area map: http://www.dem.ri.gov/maps/mapfile/wma/map14a.pdf
Nice place for a hike with plenty of wildlife throughout. Trail descriptions I've researched talk of yellow blaze markers, didn't see any and the maps we had were not the greatest either. It got to the point where we gave up on the map and just walked along the old dirt roads enjoying our time in the woods / swamp.
Not a bad area at all. The power lines and Amtrak line sort of kill the nature vibe if they're close but it's not hard to get away from them. Most of the main trails are actually dirt access roads, but again there are a lot deer trails that intersect them so it's not hard to take a more secluded route. Great place for birding if you're into that.
OK, on orientation: don't go by the Weber book. Go with the Hickox and Heyder Walks in the Watershed. It does a much better job of setting out all of the little side trails you're going to run across. Nothing is blazed. But, since you're right on the Amtrack line, and the power lines bisect the whole preserve, you aren't likely to get seriously lost. Also, if you decide to go all the way out to Worden Pond, you are not looking for an old seaplane hangar. You are looking for a concrete pad where the hangar used to be.
All in all, a delight. No serious uphill climbs. The trail out to Worden is lined with holly trees, something you don't see in Rhode Island every day. The impoundment trail runs parallel to the Pawcatuck. The power lines run through it. A whole bunch of stands for the waterfowl are set up, but I didn't see much that day.
P.S. A moment of silence for Donald Mallett, who was shot by a fellow hunter this week at Rhode Island's Arcadia Management Area. Wear your orange and be careful out there!