Off the Beaten Trail
On Saturday of Columbus Day weekend, a full roster of guests boarded the Inn's twelve-person Mercedes Sprinter van and embarked on our annual Off the Beaten Trail tour of southern Rhode Island. The day was really perfect for a sightseeing drive, with clear skies, cooler temps and bright sunshine.
Just the type of weather that makes fall at the Rhode Island shore a favorite season.
First stops along the route: Ninigret Park and the historic district of Cross Mills in Charlestown, a charming village with colonial roots stretching back to the 1600's and traces of Native American settlements predating that. Eastward, and meandered along the scenic lanes of Matunuck, we did a drive-by of Trustom Pond refuge (my personal favorite) and then disembarked for a short walk to Moonstone Beach - the former nudest colony. Moonstone still sports the wild-life, but today beach goers are fully feathered and enjoy the protection of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. The Service purchased the land back in the 90's, because it is such fantastic habitat for nesting shore birds. Continuing east we visited the waterfront community of Jerusalem, on Point Judith Pond, and across the harbor, the Port of Galilee, where the commercial fishing fleet and gritty seafood processing plants line the docks. Down the road to the southeast, we made Point Judith lighthouse, which marks the eastern end of Rhode Island's south coast and makes a fine location to enjoy boxed lunches. There is a terrific little park there with benches, and the sweeping views from Block Island to Newport mean there is always something to see. On this trip I brought our viewing scope, so we were able to survey Newport, Jamestown, the Newport bridge and vessels passing by.
Heading north along the Narragansett shore, we visited Hazard Rocks, a majestic granite formation that plunges into the deep waters of the bay and affords grand views out to sea. Here, the rise and fall of the bay can be mesmerizing, as waves swell up along the weathered ledge and then pull back into the heart of the sea. Just north we visited the Narragansett Pier area and then reversed course and headed inland.
Our return route brought us through the farmland of South Kingston and then along the southern shore of Worden's Pond - the largest natural freshwater pond in Rhode Island - where golden marsh grasses swayed against blue sky and blue water, and littoral trees blazed with color. One last stop in the quaint mill village of Shannock Falls, where beautiful Horseshoe Falls dam blends with the Pawcatuck River and eclectic historic buildings, to paint a Rockwell-esque scene of a bygone era when Rhode Island and it's fabric mills were a central part of the US economy.
Rhode Island has so many wonderful places to visit and whether you join in a van trip or strike out on your own, the Inn makes a wonderful base to explore from. And an extra benefit… being the smallest state in the nation, all of our wonderful diversity is close at hand!
Tour participants disembark to enjoy the sites and fall sunshine at historic Horseshoe Falls.