There's something special about spending a day outdoors in South County, and Ryan Park in North Kingstown has something for everyone. Located between Route 1 and Route 4, the park is home to a large pond, a dense forest, and numerous hiking trails to explore, making it well worth a visit during any season.
Hiking and Biking
If you're just looking for a quick walk or bike ride, Ryan Park has you covered. There are a couple of different places to enter the park, starting with the Ryan Park Trailhead that is just off Lafayette Road. The trailhead has a parking lot, and from there, you can walk on trails that approach both the north and west sides of Belleville Pond, depending on where you want to walk.
The main trail also provides access to some areas that are popular with BMX and mountain bikers because there are some jumps and switchbacks that lead to an exhilarating ride. In fact, the park hosts races on occasion, as the New England High School Cycling Association is known to hold events through this section of the park.
If you choose to go around the north side of the pond, you'll head through denser forest. Because of this, the north trail is better for those hiking than those who are on bikes, although biking is possible.
As you head through the woods, numerous trails lead to the water, and you might even come across a private little bay or cove on which to relax.
After crossing the north side of the pond, you’ll reach the east side, where you'll cross a cool wooden bridge that runs between two sections of the pond. If you head even further east, you can cross another bridge that runs behind a dam. Both of these bridges take you to an area close to the baseball diamonds.
The second entry point is just north of the baseball diamonds, where you can head directly to the east side of Belleville Pond. Many people prefer starting here because there's more parking and it's a shorter walk to the scenic bridges.
Ryan Park is home to four baseball diamonds, so you if head out with the family for the day, you'll have the chance to hit some balls or play catch after your hike. This portion of the park also has a basketball court and a playground, providing even more activities for the family.
Keep in mind that various community groups use the baseball diamonds, so you might not have access to them, depending on the day and time of year that you visit.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Getting a boat into the water on Belleville Pond is surprisingly easy if you take the main entrance into the park from Oak Hill Road. Once you're in the park, there is a dirt road north of the baseball diamonds that leads to a very basic boat launch. The launch isn't paved, and you'll have to carry your boat to the water. As a result, it's probably only worth it to bring a small canoe or kayak if you're looking to get on the water. Small boats with electric motors are permitted, as well.
Once you get your boat onto Belleville Pond, you can explore the numerous coves and bays without much bothering you. Since the pond is relatively large but doesn't get a whole lot of traffic, it's very quiet.
The fishing on Belleville Pond is decent, as there are largemouth bass, sunfish, alewife, yellow perch, chain pickerel, and brown bullhead. Trolling in a fishing kayak, canoe, or small boat provide a peaceful way to spend a morning or afternoon.
Another Way to Relax in South County
If South County's main attractions are too busy for you, it's nice to know that you can escape to a quiet area like Ryan Park that not too many visitors will know. Once at the park, you can hike, play, bike, or fish in peace, as even on a busy day, the park is large enough that you can wander for hours without seeing another person.
South County truly has something for everyone, so make sure you include Ryan Park on your list of places to check out in this scenic part of the country.