Beavertail – Jamestown
- Beavertail State Park
- Beavertail Road, Jamestown, RI
- Trailhead: 41°27’6.91″N, 71°23’58.26″W
- First Time Hiked: June 27, 2013
- Last Time Hiked: September 13, 2016
- Approximate distance hiked: 2.8 miles
- Easy with some rock scaling.
Beavertail is easily one of the most beautiful locations in Rhode Island if not all of New England. Also, there are centuries of history here at its rocky shores. Beavertail has always been a place I am drawn to, whether it’s to take in the beauty of the ocean or to come and contemplate life, I have always found it peaceful and cleansing. Starting this hike at parking lot 2, I headed north through the grass field to the beginning of the trail. The trail along this part of the hike is a wide grass walking path surrounded by tall shrubs. Just after getting on the trail it immediately splits, I stayed to right, to the left is a viewing area. Along the way there will be several areas that overlook the West Passage of Narragansett Bay. From the viewing areas you will be able to see the Point Judith Lighthouse, the remains of the Whale Rock Lighthouse, and the Narragansett shoreline. I continued in a northerly direction following the main trail, ignoring the trails to the right that lead to parking lot 1. After about ¾ of a mile the trail bears to the right and away from the shore. There are two benches at a viewing area to use as a reference at this turn. The trail that follows the shore becomes very narrow and will lead off of the parks property. After bearing to the right I followed the trail until it came to an intersection with pavement. Here I turned right onto a narrow path and took the next left. Soon this trail merges with another from the left. I continued straight until I found the next trail on the left. Here I turned left and followed the trail into a field. At the end of this trail I turned left once again and followed the trail straight to parking lot 1. Here I turned left and followed the entrance road of the parking lot, then crossed the main entrance road and followed the exit road in the opposite direction for a few hundred feet. Soon I beared left off of the asphalt road onto a grass covered access road that runs along a set of power lines. The road led me first to an abandoned World War II era Quonset hut before coming to an open grass field overlooking Rhode Island Sound. Here there are two options, the first is to continue ahead and follow the trail to the rocky shore, the second is to turn right and follow the narrow trail that will lead back toward the lighthouse. If you choose the first, exercise extreme caution while on the rocks as they can be slippery and dangerous. For this hike I first chose option one, scaling the rocks nearly a thousand feet as I made my way northeasterly toward a great natural feature. One of Beavertails lesser known gems is the Lions Head Gorge, a natural chasm that waves crash into. Be extremely careful here. From this vantage point you will be able to see the top of the Newport Bridge, the Naval War College (tan colored building), the Castle Hill Lighthouse, and Brenton Point. From here, I retraced my steps very carefully back to the grass field, looked for the small wooden bridge at the beginning of the trail, and then followed it making my way toward the lighthouse. The trail soon ends and the remainder of the walk is across grass fields near the edge of the rocky shore. After passing parking lot 4, I came to more remains of World War II, a bunker and two circular structures that once held a pair of 16 inch guns. Beavertail, along with several other sites along the shore, was once a coastal defense fort in the days of war. Most people don’t realize that one of the last battles in World War II happened 16 miles off the coast of Beavertail. A German U-boat was sunk during the Battle of Point Judith after sinking the S.S. Black Point in May of 1945. Continuing along the shore I finally came to the highlight of the property. The lighthouse that stands at the tip of Beavertail was built in 1856 and is 64 feet tall. It was the third lighthouse built on this site, the first being built in 1749 was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1753. During the American Revolution the British burned the lighthouse while they were retreating from Newport. It was refurnished in 1783. Finally, the lighthouse that stands today was built. Furthermore, the original Beavertail lighthouse was the third built in the American Colonies after the Boston Harbor Light and the Great Point Light on Nantucket were built. Its foundation, with a compass on its floor, is just south of the current lighthouse. There is a very informative plaque near the foundation of an older lighthouse that explains the history of the Beavertail lights. Also at the point, enclosed in a fenced area, is a foghorn. Beware not to stand to close on a foggy day. From here I made my way back to parking lot 2 and concluded the hike. Beavertail is also home to many deer and eastern cottontails. Spotting either at any time of the day is not uncommon.
Trail map can be found at: Beavertail.
This trail was featured in RI Local Magazine – July 2015