Spring 2024

Invasive Plants in
Canonchet Farm

View Canonchet
Farm Video

Plans for the
Linear Park


Map of Canonchet Farm Property

Trail Map


Trail Map


Trail Guide

Watch a short film on Habitat Restoration at Lake Canonchet

On Protecting Canonchet #1
The Master Plan

On Protecting Canonchet #2
Appropriate Uses

On Protecting Canonchet #3
Management of the Park

On Protecting Canonchet #4
Finance Issues


Cleanup at Lake Canonchet
September 10, 2011

Charlie Lee Remembrance
February 6, 2011

Canonchet History
Who was Canonchet?
by Richard Vangermeersch

Canonchet Farm Master Plan
Town Council Holds Workshop on Planning Board Report

Our Response
October 21, 2010

Our Vision and Recommendations for Canonchet Farm
April 2009

Guided Walks Fall 2010

Beech Grove Cleanup Complete
Cleanup - Day 4
October 31, 2009

Beech Grove
Cleanup - Day 2
October 9, 2009

Tom Wessels
Guided Walk
October 10, 2009

Other Links
Narrow River Preservation Association

South County Museum

On Pettaquamscutt 2023

Narragansett Chamber of Commerce


See our Fall 2023 Newsletter.

Posted October 4, 2023


Eight years ago, Friends of Canonchet volunteers planted this now magnificent
groundsel shrub along with more than 100 other Rhody Natives
of seven different varieties. Click here to travel back to
Planting Day
(September 12, 2015) on the east bank of Lake Canonchet.

Posted September 19, 2023; Updated October 8, 2023

Four Guided Walks This Fall

Sunday afternoon, October 8, 1:00 to 3:00:

Naturalist Bruce Fellman Walks
the Canonchet Farm Trails

Every week for the past 45 years, science writer and environmental educator Bruce Fellman has served up a slice of natural and personal history in his column, “A Naturalist’s Journal,” which appears in newspapers throughout Rhode Island. With fall in the air, Fellman will visit Canonchet Farm for a deep dive into the biology of autumn. We will walk the trail for an up-close exploration of how plants and animals begin preparing for leaner times. While there are no guarantees about what we’ll see — this is nature, after all — our journey should encompass everything from the epic migration of butterflies, dragonflies, and birds to a search for October wildflowers and their end-of-the-growing season pollinators. We may encounter a frog or salamander looking for a suitable cold-weather hiding place.

Meet inside the South County Museum's Metz Exhibit Building, 115 Strathmore Street in Narragansett. This guided walk is sponsored by Friends of Canonchet Farm and is free and open to the public. Click here to register.

Sunday afternoon, October 15, Starting at 1:00:

Trees: An Ingredient of Community

Join Craig Hotchkiss, Community Project Coordinator with the RI Tree Council, to walk the Canonchet Farm trails and explore our relationship with trees. As we walk, Craig will guide us in considering how trees interact with humans, from glacial recession to the near future. Craig will point out the implications of changes in forest species. Meet us at the parking lot at the South County Museum. This event is free and open to the public. Click here for more details and to register for this event.

Sunday afternoon, October 22, Starting at 1:00:

Canonchet: A Woodlands Treasure in the Heart of Narragansett

Don’t miss this chance to discover our woodland trails right across the street from Narragansett Town Beach! Tom Hoagland and Alan Woodmansee, Master Gardeners and respectively President and Trail Manager of Friends of Canonchet Farm, will engage your love of nature and history with this trail walk through the woods. Meet us at the parking lot at the South County Museum. This event is free and open to the public. Click here for more details and to register for this event.

Saturday morning, November 18 from 10:00 to 11:30:

Native American Heritage in Canonchet

We are delighted to host Lorén Spears, Executive Director of the Tomaquag Museum, for a trail walk at Canonchet Farm. For thousands of years, the Narragansett tribe hunted, fished, gathered and farmed this area. Lorén will share history, culture, and traditional ecological knowledge. Meet inside the South County Museum's Metz Building, 115 Strathmore Street in Narragansett. This guided walk is sponsored by Friends of Canonchet Farm and is free and open to the public. Click here for more details and to register for this event.

Posted September 13, 2023

Posted September 11, 2023

Root Warriors Go to Work as Goats Exit

Crew Works to Preserve Trees in the Upper Meadow

On Thursday, September 7, the goats finished goatscaping on the west side of the Upper Meadow on Canonchet Farm, boarded their school bus/mobile home and returned to The Sanctuary of Hope in Scituate to await their next assignment. One of their first tasks had been to strip the invasive vegetation from under three large trees at the edge of the meadow, which they did in short order before starting on the unwanted vegetation between the meadow and the stone wall along the Canonchet Farm Trail.

Then on Saturday, September 9, the Root Warriors – eight Friend of Canonchet Farm volunteers – showed up with loppers, root slayers, hatchets, shovels and rakes (and lots of insect repellent) to remove the privet, bittersweet, porcelain berry, bull briar and poison ivy roots the goats had left behind.

Six of the Warriors with their weapons of choice, from the left:
Michael Kinnicutt, Kevin McBride, Alan Woodmansee, Jake Brown,
Tom Hoagland and Bob Stepanian

“The vines and briers climbing the three trees were firmly established and posed a serious threat the health of these old trees,” said Friends of Canonchet Farm President Tom Hoagland. “By digging up the roots we finished the work of the goats and prevented the invasives from mounting another attack on the trees.”


Kevin McBride takes loppers to briers below an oak,
while Sandy Menke uproots new bittersweet runners with gloves only.


Bob Stepanian delivers the final blow to release an ornery root
so Alan Woodmansee and Jake Brown can haul it away.


Invasive vines removed from the base of this large oak tree

The volunteers are now focused on clearing a path between the Upper Meadow and the Canonchet Farm Trail and preparing a plot for a “three sisters garden” to be planted by members of the Narragansett Tribe.

Posted August 26, 2023

The Goats are Here!

The Friends of Canonchet Farm is proud to announce the arrival of more than 20 hungry goats from The Sanctuary of Hope to Canonchet Farm on Thursday, August 24. The goats have been engaged for 13 days of goatscaping in the Upper Meadow, during which they will eat tons of privet, porcelain berry, bittersweet, and multiflora rose plants that are choking the mature trees in that area. They will be on site until September 7 and they do not take a day off!

August 24, 2023. Goats make their grand entrance
and immediately get to work, clearing invasive vegetation
from the base of a tree in the Upper Meadow.

The goats live in a converted school bus with their keeper and do their work within a portable, electrified fence that keeps them focused on the task at hand. The goats will be clearing about a quarter acre per day, working their way west from the meadow toward the stone wall that borders the Canonchet Farm Trail just east of the Museum entrance.

The herder leads the goats to the morning's work, clearing invasive plants.


The goats escape the heat at mid-day by rest in the bus or sitting in a favorite chair.

The goal is to open a vista from the trail all the way to the existing meadow and enable our volunteers to follow up and build a spur trail linking the meadow and the existing trail after the goats finish their work. Feel free to come observe the goatscaping. Park in the South County Museum parking lot, walk through the grassy picnic area and down past the sign and into the woods along the wide path. Walk about 200 feet into the open upper meadow and turn left and you will see the goat fencing ahead of you.

For more information check out the goats’ own website https://thesanctuaryofhopeinc.com/

Posted May 15, 2023

Tree Identification on the
Canonchet Farm Trail

Saturday, June 3, 10:00 a.m.

Friends of Canonchet Farm is pleased to host Peter Stetson to guide us in exploring the varied tree life on the trail. Peter is President of Educational Mapping Service and a popular OLLI instructor in tree identification as well as GIS and other mapping techniques. He is the founder of Educational Mapping Service in Wyoming, R.I.

We’ll start off inside the Metz Building at the South County Museum for a brief overview of tree identification and then hit the trail. This event is free and open to the public. For more details and to register for this event, click the Register button show a sign-up page on Eventbrite.

Posted May 9, 2023

Exploring What’s New and Historical on Canonchet Farm Trail

Saturday, May 13, 1:00 p.m.

Join Tom Hoagland and Alan Woodmansee, Master Gardeners and respectively President and Trail Manager of Friends of Canonchet Farm, as they lead us on Narragansett’s beloved Canonchet Trails. Here is how Tom previews the walk:

“We will meet at the South County Museum and walk east, viewing the Sprague spring house foundation and our newly planted trees, walk to the beach side of Littleneck Pond to the new clearing, then back along the trail and turn left at the field loop to view where we hope to employ the goats to remove invasive plants. Come enjoy Canonchet Farm forest before the mosquitoes take over next month!”


Read John Kostrzewa's description of Canonchet Farm in the Providence Journal (April 30, 2023).


Walk Canonchet with John Kostrzewa

Saturday, May 6, 10 a.m.

John Kostrzewa, a former Providence Journal reporter and editor who now writes the "Walking Rhode Island" column for the Journal, will tell us about his favorite hikes and what he has learned on the trails. He'll also offer recommendations on where to hike in R.I. and what to bring on your trek.

Join will then lead a walk through Canonchet Farm. Along the way, he'll point out historic sites and other areas of interest. We’ll start with a brief talk inside the Metz Building at the South County Museum.

Friends of Canonchet Farm is pleased to sponsor this free event. Click the button below to register using EventBrite:

Annual Meeting Featuring Goats!

Sunday, May 7, 1:00 p.m.

It’s that time again! Our Annual Meeting is on Sunday afternoon, May 7 starting at 1:00 in the Metz Exhibition Building of the South County Museum.

Join us for lunch and beverages and our speaker Jackie Magnan, Co-Owner of The Sanctuary of Hope, the organization that provides goats to renew landscapes infested with invasive plants. As you know, we hope to employ their goats to clear an overgrown field just to the west of the museum. Jackie will show a brief video and discuss how the goats work. One of the goats is expected to make a guest appearance!

We will also honor our volunteers at the meeting -- something long overdue.
Please mark your calendars and use the Register button to RSVP:

We look forward to seeing you on Sunday, May 7!

Posted March 12, 2023; Updated March 22, 2023

Mark Your Calendar:
Spring 2023 Guided Walks
at Canonchet Farm

Here are four walks at Canonchet Farm planned for this spring:

April 8, 1:00 p.m.,“Vernal Pool Amphibians at Canonchet Farm” with Nancy Karraker

Catch the activity in these small wetlands before they dry up! We are delighted to begin our Spring Trail Walks with a return visit by Nancy Karraker, URI Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resources Science.

We'll meet at the South County Museum parking lot. Nancy will lead us on a tour of Canonchet vernal pools, host to spring-breeding for amphibians, reptiles, and aquatic insects. Canonchet Farm's has a large number of these “puddles” that play a crucial role for amphibians, such as wood frogs and spring peepers.

For more details and to register for this free event, click on Register button:


Up Next

May 6, 10:00 a.m., Walking Canonchet Trails in the Spring with John Kostrzewa, former business editor and nature columnist with The Providence Journal.

May 13, 10:00 a.m., Canonchet: A Woodlands Treasure in the Heart of Narragansett, a walk led by Tom Hoagland and Alan Woodmansee, Master Gardeners and respectively President and Trail Manager of Friends of Canonchet Farm.

Date To Be Announced, Everything about the Trees! Peter Stetson, OLLI Instructor, former environmental earth science teacher, current President of Educational Mapping Service.

All walks are free and open to the public. Look for registration and other more information here and on Facebook as the event approaches.

Posted January 8, 2023

Restoring Narrow River's Salt Marshes with Save the Bay
Maury Loontjens Memorial Library
Sunday Afternoon, January 29, 2023 from 2:00 to 3:30.

Join us at the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library as we learn about past and proposed salt marsh restoration efforts along the Narrow River. Save The Bay’s Wenley Ferguson will highlight our salt marsh restoration projects in partnership with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Audubon Society of Rhode Island and the Narrow River Land Trust on the Narrow River, and proposed work in Pettaquamscutt Cove in coordination with the Town of Narragansett.

Background: The region's salt marshes are degraded and experiencing plant die-off due to a combination of factors including legacy human impacts such as past agricultural and mosquito control activities and accelerated sea level rise. Restoring tidal hydrology through the digging of shallow creeks allows water impounded on the marsh surface to drain and the marsh plants to recolonize die-off zones.

This event is free and open to the public; advance registration is encouraged. Click the Register button to sign up at the library website.

Posted January 8, 2023

January 7, 2023 – Jake Brown (left) and Bob Stepanian were among the volunteers who cleared brush from around an old well providing access for the town to install a temporary cover. The well was discovered during a work session a week before when a Friends of Canonchet Farm crew was removing invasives from the stone wall along the Canonchet Farm Trail behind the South County Museum. Note the museum’s Carpentry Shop and Metz Exhibit Hall in the background. The crew meets on Saturday mornings (weather permitting) to maintain the trails. New volunteers are always welcome; contact Tom Hoagland for more information.

See the Friends of Canonchet Farm Home Page in 2022.

THE FRIENDS OF CANONCHET FARM was created in 2007 by a group of Narragansett residents who recognized this forgotten parcel of land could be preserved as a natural space for the community to enjoy. The group has evolved into a partnership with the Town to provide funding and volunteers for enhancing the property. We are committed to help create a natural park for the enjoyment and education of Narragansett residents and visitors.

Today Canonchet Farm is a green space unlike any other in Rhode Island. Comprised of 175 acres of fresh and saltwater wetlands, forests,brooks, and ponds abutting Pettaquamscutt Cove on Narrow River, the land is habitat for a wide variety of birds, plants, animals, and insects. The John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge owns ten acres of the land, while the remaining 165 acres belong to the Town of Narragansett. The original open fields of farmland have, over the years, grown into a thick forest of native and invasive plants and trees. Visitors and members will enjoy learning about the area on our popular guided walks, led by experts in the fields of nature, culture, and the sciences. With 1.5 miles of walking trails and proximity to the South County Museum, Canonchet Farm is a perfect venue for a day's outing.


Canonchet Farm's earliest inhabitants were the Narragansett Indians, followed by the first colonial settlers and farmers of the area. In 1865 Governor William Sprague and his wife, Kate Chase Sprague, purchased the property and constructed a sprawling sixty-eight-room mansion. They called the farm"Canonchet" after the renowned sachem of the Narragansett tribe. In 1909 the mansion burned to the ground. Now,only the stone framework remains from the original stable, which burned in 1960's.


With the ongoing habitat restoration program, made possible by the support of donations and volunteers, the ponds are becoming visible from Boston Neck Road. A proposed linear park along the shores of both ponds with a landscape design of native plants begins to take shape. We also plan to install educational signage, offer programs for children, and hold courses in forestry management.


Whether your interest is a quiet walk through the forest or the hands-on experience of preserving the environment, we invite you to join Friends of Canonchet Farm, and help support the natural development of this unique place in Rhode Island.

photo by Bill Krul

Photos by Bill Krul

The mission of the Friends of Canonchet Farm
is to improve, manage and preserve Canonchet Farm
in partnership with the public for the enjoyment
of present and future generations.

Glacial Erratic

Map of Canonchet Farm
Shows trail heads and points of interest
For more information about the Friends of Canonchet Farm,
email Tom Hoagland (tom.hoagland963@gmail.com).
Copyright © 2007-2024 Friends of Canonchet Farm
Last modified: May 13, 2024