We definitely love our beaches and highly recommend that you experience their beauty but did you know there are a few hiking trails in the Misquamicut area that offer a great way to get exercise and see a different side of our coastal community? Talk about a great way to enjoy a day or two: hit the beach for a few hours, get some lunch and then get into your hiking attire and enjoy the climb.
One of Misquamicut’s best hidden treasures is Dr. John Champlin Glacier Park, which can be reached from Shore Road or Tom Harvey Road consists of two parcels totaling 134 acres and is a considerable example of a recessional moraine glacial landscape, with kettle and kame topography, carved canyons, glacial erratic boulders and the moraine ridge.
There’s ponds, sand barrens and ridges overlooking Winnapaug Pond, Block Island Sound, Block Island and Long Island. The two miles of trail offers hikers the change to enjoy a landscape that the great glacier of the last ice age left behind. At the top of the hill, Charlies Overlook offers a view of Misquamicut and the ponds that isn’t often seen!
Back, say 17,000 years ago, if you were standing on Shore Road, near where one of the entrances to the park is, and you were looking north, immediately in front of you would be the face of a tremendous ice cliff over a mile high. This is the front of a glacier which was a vast ice sheet up to two and a half miles thick that extended all the way back to the Canadian Arctic. Once you know this bit of background, the hike will be that much more interesting and beautiful!
Another nice spot is the Dr. Lewis Pond Preserve, which is approximately 7½ acres of glacially carved terrain located near the east end of Links Passage. There is a short trail, perfect length for kids, located at the southeast corner of the road.
The trail loops back to the road after passing by the pond’s edge. The property as a whole contains a forested lateral moraine with wild blueberry and mountain laurel dropping sharply to an Atlantic White Cedar swamp. The preserve includes 1/3 of Dr. Lewis Pond, a large and deep glacier kettle pond.
Kelly Presley, executive director of the Westerly Land Trust said she’d also recommend the Wahaneeta Preserve, which is adjacent to the Paul E. Trombino Memorial Foundation Little League complex.
“It’s not quite in Misquamicut but it’s just across Route 1 and is a great spot for a nice walk,” she said.
This 72-acre property is the former Girl Scouts of Rhode Island Camp Wahaneeta. It is primarily wooded wetlands and includes a stream, pond, and the former Girl Scout lodge. Hikers, bicyclists, horseback riders or any other visitors to this preserve are required to wear 200 square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange during hunting season, generally September-February and April- May.
All this to say, that when you pack for a day, weekend or week at the beach, don’t just pack your beach clothes. Bring some hiking boots, a hat and a water bottle and get ready to see Misquamicut with new eyes!