Rhode Island is the smallest state in the USA, though when you visit you wouldn’t know it, as it is the second most densely populated state in the country. It is a state that is rich in culture and history, as well as being geographically diverse. There are two distinct natural regions in Rhode Island; the lowlands of the Narragansett Bay and the New England Upland. It is also part of the Northeastern coastal forests.
The official nickname of Rhode Island is ‘The Ocean State’ due to its many oceanfront beaches, large bays and inlets. It is also home to hundreds of bodies of water, 75 per cent of which are manmade lakes. The rest are natural lakes and saltwater coastal lagoons. Some of these lakes are home to birds, fish and beaches, while others are just dots on a map that have nothing much to offer. If you ever want to visit some of the states lake, these are the 15 best lakes in Rhode Island.
1. Wallum Lake; Providence County
The south half of Wallum Lake sits within Rhode Island, while the north is part of its neighbouring state of Massachusetts. Buck Hill Management Area surrounds the Rhode Island side of the lake, while the Douglas State Forest borders the rest of it, making it quite a serene lake.
Wallum Lake has three boat ramps, one of which lies at the very south tip in the town of Burrillville. This means that the lake can easily be accessed in order to go fishing for largemouth bass, bluegills and yellow perch.
The Buck Hill Management Area is made up predominately of forest that offers some fantastic hiking. It is also a good spot for bird watching, with many bird species living within the area.
2. Worden Pond; Washington County
This is Rhode Island’s largest natural lake, having a total area of 422 hectares. Although called a pond, Worden Pond is in fact a lake that is located in the southeast part of the state.
The lake has a long history that dates back to the late 1600s, though today it is a popular destination for anglers. It is a very shallow lake that offers fishing year-round and is particularly popular for catching largemouth bass, northern pike and perch.
Worden Pond is also a fantastic place to go swimming, windsurfing, sailing, kayaking and canoeing. The northern end of the lake is home to the Great Swamp Wildlife Management Area, which offers some great hiking, wildlife viewing and cycling.
3. Scituate Reservoir; Providence County
Rhode Island’s largest body of water sits right in the middle of the state. In fact, Scituate Reservoir supplies drinking water to 60 per cent of the state!
The 1,400 hectare lake Y-shaped lake is surrounded by forest. It is owned by the Providence Water Supply Board, who protects the area to maintain the water quality.
Its preservation means that there is no development around the lake, making it a tranquil place to sit and read a book, meditate or think. Other than that there is not much to do here but take in the scenery.
4. Miscoe Lake; Providence County
Although Miscoe Lake also sits within Massachusetts, the majority of the 20 hectare lake is located in Rhode Island. Much of the land surrounding the lake is private property, though tourists that rent a lakeside property can access the beautiful lake.
The lake is home to a number of wildlife species, making it a haven for nature lovers. Some of the animals that call the lake home include beavers, herons, swans, turtles and cormorants.
The historical Grant’s Mill sat at the southern end of the lake on what is now Miscoe Lake Dam. Just beyond it is Diamond Hill Park that features picnic areas, sports fields and a walking trail.
5. Boone Lake; Washington County
This private lake is one of the best lakes in the state and accessible only to lake residents. Tourists can access Boone Lake by renting one of the lakeside homes.
The 19 hectare lake is used for recreational purposes only, making it a top vacation destination. Swimming, fishing and boating is allowed, as long as the boat belongs to one of the lake’s residents.
Boone Lake is an artificial lake that was built in 1885 with the completion of the Boone Lake dam. Lake residents manage the lake, as well as do all of the funding to maintain it.
6. Spring Lake; Providence County
Spring Lake features one of Rhode Island’s few freshwater beaches; Spring Lake Beach. The beach is used for recreational purposes and is popular amongst state residents as well as those from further afar.
The Spring Lake Beach Recreational Facility boasts a swimming dock, picnic tables, a playground and a concession stand. It is also home to a fantastic arcade that happens to house some of the oldest arcade games in the country!
Kayaks and paddle boats can be hired, while things like sand pails, sunglasses, sunscreen and beach attire can be purchased at the shop. It should be noted that there is a small fee to enter the beach, and it is only open in the summer.
7. Olney Pond; Providence County
This freshwater lake sits within the Lincoln Woods State Park in the northeast corner of Rhode Island. The entire park is a popular recreational area and a top spot for state visitors.
Olney Pond boasts a beach complete with a lifeguard, making it ideal for families. There is also a boat ramp and a fishing dock on the lake’s shoreline, as well as numerous picnic tables.
Lincoln Woods State Park is open year-round, though lake activities are seasonal. Still tourists can enjoy hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking along the parks trail system.
8. Diamond Hill Reservoir; Providence County
Diamond Hill Reservoir was created by the damming of the Abbott Run waterway to create water for the city of Pawtucket. It is still used for this today, though it is also a picturesque place to spend an afternoon.
When driving along Reservoir Road, take in the breath-taking views of the 158 hectare lake. Spectacular views of the lake can also be seen from Diamond Hill Park.
Diamond Hill Reservoir is particularly beautiful at sunrise and sunset. In fact, many area residents often jog, walk or cycle along Reservoir Road for this very reason.
9. Bowdish Lake; Providence County
This public lake sits in the northwest corner of the state not far from neighbouring state of Connecticut. Bowdish Lake is best known for its ecosystem, as well as its massive camping grounds.
There are two camping grounds on the lake’s shoreline; George Washington Campground and Bowdish Lake Campground. There is also a trailhead that skirts the east side of the lake.
George Washington Campground is on the lake’s southeast shoreline and offers swimming, boating and fishing, as well as having 45 gravel sites. Bowdish Lake Campground sits on the northeast side of the lake and features over 100 sites, as well as numerous facilities.
10. Echo Lake; Providence County
Also known as Pascoag Reservoir, Echo Lake is a freshwater lake that is known for its excellent water quality, making it a popular lake for recreational activities. Swimming is particularly popular, as is boating and fishing.
Water skiing, jet skiing and tubing can be enjoyed on the 141 hectare lake in the summer months, especially when staying at one of the lakeside properties. There is also a campground on the west side of the lake that boasts 200 sites.
Echo Lake Campground is the main public entry point to the lake. It features a store, picnic areas, fishing areas and a large recreation field.
11. Point Judith Pond; Washington County
This six kilometre long body of water sits right along the south coast of Rhode Island behind the beaches and sand dunes of Point Judith Harbor. It is the largest and most used of all the salt ponds in the state.
Point Judith Pond is home to the port of Galilee, which is the largest commercial port in the state. There also happens to be a number of ocean beaches at the mouth of the pond, which are a main draw each and every summer.
The Pond is a major centre for chartering boats to sail around the Atlantic Ocean. There are numerous marinas, as well as year-round ferry service to Block Island, which is known for its many beaches.
12. Ninigret Pond; Washington County
This saltwater lagoon sits along the south coast of the state and is the largest of nine lagoons in southern Rhode Island. The lagoon is mainly used for recreational activities, attracting hordes of tourists each year.
East Beach stretches for nearly five kilometres along the south shoreline of Ninigret Pond and happens to be one of the least developed beaches in the state! Visitors can stay in one of the beach’s 20 camping sites or can come and enjoy the beach on a hot sunny day.
Ninigret Pond sits within the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge. The area is inhabited by over 250 species of birds throughout the year, including migrating Canada geese, black ducks and diving ducks.
13. Quicksand Pond; Newport County
Located at the very southeast corner of the state, Quicksand Pond is entirely surrounded by critical habitats, making it a protected area. It is one of the most untouched and stunning coastal areas in Rhode Island.
The 150 hectare lake features a seven kilometre shoreline, half of which is completely undeveloped. On the southern end of Quicksand Pond is Goosewing Beach that is known for its incredible dunes that were created around 12,000 years ago.
The Benjamin Family Environmental Center can also be found along the south shoreline of the pond. The centre features programs and exhibits showcasing the habitats of the pond.
14. Winnapaug Pond; Washington County
This saltwater lagoon is best known for being home to the Misquamicut State Beach. This is a public recreation beach that stretches along a sandbar that separates the lake from the Atlantic Ocean.
Misquamicut State Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the state for families. It boasts picnic areas, a gift shop and gazebos for shade, as well as having a lifeguard on duty (seasonal).
Thanks to its shallow water, Winnapaug Pond is a great place to go kayaking. Many also come to play golf, go swimming and just relax on a beach.
15. Trustom Pond; Washington County
Trustom Pond is one of southern Rhode Island’s nine coastal lagoons. The 73 hectare lake is located within the Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge and is the only undeveloped salt pond in the state.
The entire area surrounding the pond is a national wildlife reserve that is home to over 300 species of birds, making it a popular area for bird watching. It is also home to 40 mammal species, and 20 specifies of amphibians and reptiles.
There are nearly five kilometres of trails in and around the lake. Along the trails are numerous interpretive panels where tourists can learn all about the area and the things they may spot while on the trails.