Block Island Southeast – New Shoreham

  • Block Island Southeast
  • Water Street, New Shoreham, RI
  • Trailhead: 41°10’24.56″N, 71°33’27.22″W
  • Last Time Hiked: May 13, 2017
  • Approximate distance hiked: 4.5 miles
  • Moderate with some elevation, optional strenuous stairs.

 

This walk from the ferry dock in Old Harbor leads to some of the most picturesque sights along the eastern seaboard. Though mostly road walking, the route visits the Mohegan Bluffs and the famous Southeast Lighthouse. In fact this route could easily be done on a bicycle if you choose to ride instead of walk. There are several bike rentals available on the island including Beach Rose Bicycles. Starting from the ferry dock turn left onto Water Street (southerly direction) towards the rotary with the Statue of Rebecca. At the rotary turn right onto High Street and start the slow climb uphill. Traffic tends to be busy here so stay on the sidewalk. The street is flanked by several cottages and B & B’s. On the left is a worthwhile stop. The Nature Conservancy’s Block Island office is here. There are maps available of the islands trails for a small fee. Just behind the Nature Conservancy building is the backside of Abrams Animal Farm which offers a collection of animals including goats, emus, lemurs, and kangaroos. Continuing along High Street you will come to the “last chance” for snacks, water, or supplies at the general store on the left. Ahead you will come to the Block Island School at the intersection of Payne Road. Continuing straight the road becomes Pilot Hill Road and continues to gradually climb uphill and eventually turns to a dirt road. At the top of the hill, 178 feet above sea level, is a monument to the pilots of Block Island. You will notice that the Dodge family dominates the list of names on the monument. Pilot Hill Road then passes John E’s Pond on the right. In May the shad brush that surrounds the pond (and most of the island) is in bloom. Soon Pilot Hill Road ends. Continue straight here and cross the main road into a dirt parking area. From here follow the short path to the first glimpse of Mohegan Bluffs. The view is quite breathtaking and reminiscence of Ireland. From this vantage point you can see the newly built wind turbines that supply power to the island. On clear days to the right you can see Montauk Point in New York. To the left you can see your next two stops, the stairs of Payne Overlook and the Southeast Light. To get to the Payne Overlook retrace your steps back to the main road and follow it to the east. In a few hundred feet there is a parking area with a large sign. The short trail here leads to the top of the stairs that wind nearly 200 feet below. At the end of the stairs, you can make your way down to the beach. It is highly advised to do this at your own risk. From here you get a sense of just how massive these bluffs are as the ocean waves break on the narrow strand. To the east from this point is the open Atlantic Ocean to Portugal. The next stop is the lighthouse. Start by retracing your steps, literally all nine flights of them, up the bluffs. Stop! Take a breather, then retrace your steps back to the road turn right and look for the Mohegan Bluffs monument on the right. The monument gives a short description of how the Mohegan Indians were driven off of these bluffs by the local Manissean Tribe. Just beyond the monument is the famous Southeast Light. Built in 1873, the 52 foot tower, with its lens, offers as a green flashing beacon that can be seen for 23 miles (20 nautical miles). The lighthouse and its museum are open during the summer months. In 1993, the lighthouse was moved inland several hundred feet due to the eroding bluffs. A large boulder sits where the lighthouse once did. For the remainder of this walk return to the road (Spring Street) and turn right. The road will lead you back to town descending for quite a while before coming to the waters edge once again. The road then turns abruptly left and slightly uphill as you pass the Spring House. This will be the first of several famous Block Island Hotels along Spring Street as the walk leads back into town. Spring Street ends at the rotary, continue straight back onto Water Street. The ferry dock will be on your right and several shops and restaurants will be on the left.

TWRI-BI3-06

Mohegan Bluffs and the Southeast Light.

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