Wildlife & Nature

Maritime Forest Provides Stress Relief


Wilbour Woods in Little Compton is a hidden Rhode Island gem. (Frank Carini/ecoRI News)

Wilbur Woods Special Places box with logo

LITTLE COMPTON, R.I. — A simple crossing of a woodland stream leads to a back-in-time forest teeming with life and beauty. It also provides, at least for this reporter, a wonderful place to destressify.

Wilbour Woods, off Swamp Road, near the intersection with Route 77, offers a rich history, some mystery, and soothing scenery. The 1.5-mile loop features an easy-to-navigate trail and the winding waters of Dundery Brook.

This peaceful and somewhat hidden stretch of forest and fresh water packs plenty of natural wonder into a relatively small area. The trail is never more than few feet from the sights and sounds of Dundery Brook. This bubbling brook is a critical source of clean water for the coastal lagoons found downstream at Briggs Marsh.

An early fall visit to the town-owned property to recharge worked, as I knew it would. While there was a smattering of yellow and red leaves hanging from the branches of beech, maple, and oak trees, both the Woods’ ceiling and floor were still a lush green.

Dundery Brook sang, some animals chittered, insects chirped, and the forest floor crunched underfoot. The area’s few parking spots were empty, reducing the risk of running into another bipedal. Some late-morning sunlight gave prominence to a solitary picnic table resting under a clutch of beech trees.

Wilbour Woods is a local example of a maritime oak-holly forest, a rare coastal habitat that only grows under the right conditions in southern New England. There are few invasives to disrupt the area’s native elegance of asters, goldenrod, Joe-pye weed, sweet pepperbush, and other local beauties.

The leaves of the Woods’ holly trees provide a splash of green that glows year-round. In the winter, bright-red berries join the green leaves to create an outdoor holiday scene.

The trail features a stone marker dedicated to the Sakonnet Queen Awashonks — one of the most famous Sakonnet Indian sachems who was the leader of the tribe during the 1670s. The park is situated on the site of her winter camp.


For a trail map, click here.

Note: There is no bus service to Little Compton.

This story is part of our “Special Places” series. Read other stories in this series.

On the road to recovery. (Frank Carini/ecoRI News)


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