The area around Sowams Woods is believed to be an area set aside hundreds of years ago by the Native population for women and for childbirth, a place of peace. In 2011, the Barrington Land Conservation Trust (BLCT) purchased the Sowams Woods, a pleasantly wooded property of 12 acres and home of the only nesting site in Rhode Island for the declining population of Diamondback terrapins. Sowams Woods features 800 feet of frontage on Echo Lake and is located near the PIC-WILL Nature Preserve, Big Mussachuck Creek salt marsh and Narragansett Bay.
The trail goes around Echo Lake affording terrific water and wildlife views.
A trail maintained by the Barrington Land Trust Conservancy goes around the lake.
Echo lake can be seen from one end of the trail on South Lake Drive.
In the early 1990s attracted a group of local amateur archaeologists to dig for historical relics. Rhode Island Country Club, the property owner, granted permission to the archeologists and a more extensive dig commenced. In the first layer of undersoil they found artifacts of the Colonial and early contact period, including broken clay pipes, glass, knives, and buttons. Lower layers included arrowheads and other stone tools, some dating back about 5,000 years. This demonstrated continued and extensive use of the land. As part of their dig, the archeologists made an important discovery: Underneath the soil were numerous crescent-shaped stone hearths. This was an exceptional and unique find across all of Southern New England. Carbon dating indicated the hearths were in use 800 years ago, but it is likely they were also used before and after that time. These hearths were part of an area specifically set aside for women and childbirth, and as such was designated as a place for peace. Poppasquash in Bristol is a similarly situated and purposed Pokanoket land.The discovery brought the attention of the State of Rhode Island Historical Preservation & Heritage Commission. They immediately demanded a halt to the digging. Due to the ceremonial nature of the find, especially the stone hearths, they designated Sowams Woods a site to be preserved. The hearths were covered and have and will remain undisturbed as part of the conservation of this land by the land trust and its protection partners. [ From a May 4, 2017 EastBayRI article about a Barrington Land Trust walk through Sowams Woods.]
Click here for an EastBayRI article about a walk in Sowams Woods.
Click here for a Providence Journal article about Sowams Woods.
Click here for the Sowams Woods description on the RI Walks & Talks web site.
Click on the map below for a Google satellite map of Echo Lake.
If driving, park along Tallwood Drive, Spinnaker Drive or Lighthouse Lane.
There is no parking available on either Washington Road or South Lake Drive.
By bicycle, the Sowams Woods is accessible via the East Bay Bike Path at the north end of the trail.