The Bike Path's Wild Side

Enjoy all that nature has to offer


The Claire D. McIntosh Wildlife Refuge was once a corn farm owned by a well-known family in Bristol in the 1900s. Claire (daughter of the DesLauriers family) had a nurturing spirit and love for animals. She left the 25-acre plot to the Audubon Society of Rhode Island in 1992, and it has since been a landmark on the path. A wooden boardwalk takes walkers (no bikers, please) from the path out to the water through fields, woods and wetlands. It’s the perfect destination for nature observers to experience a variety of environments and the different wildlife that resides in each.

Simply listening to the different bird calls during different times of the day will give you an idea of just how many species make nests along the path. The American Birding Association (ABA) keeps track of recent bird sightings all over the country; their website invites birders to write in about recent sightings and upload photos, so the ABA can track migratory patterns and habits of different species all over the country. Check it out at

The Wildlife Rehabilitators of Rhode Island work tirelessly to help all of the creatures that live on and near the path. They encourage people to learn and observe without interfering. While some good Samaritans who see a lone baby bird or other young animal may think they’re helping by moving the little guy off the path, in actuality, it is best to leave it where it is.

The Wildlife Rehabilitators explain that it’s not uncommon for a baby bird, rabbit, fox, deer, raccoon or possum to be left without its mother for a few hours at a time to learn important survival skills. If you see a lonely young animal, let it be unless you know for certain that it is injured or abandoned. If this is the case, don’t touch - call the Wildlife Rehabilitators’ hotline at 401-294-6363.

Birding, butterflying and observing all of the other wildlife that relies on the path for safety and shelter reminds us of what an important, beautiful resource it really is for humans and animals alike.

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