Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Narragansett Indians inhabited the region now known as Charlestown. They lived off the land, hunting, fishing, and raising crops. When the first European settlers arrived in the mid-17th century, plantations were quickly established to exploit the fertile coastal lands. On August 22, 1738, a portion of Westerly was divided and named Charlestown after King Charles II. Today's town boundaries were finally established in 1748 when the town of Richmond was divided at the Pawcatuck River.
In the early 19th century, residents of Charlestown began harnessing the Pawcatuck River to power textile mills. As the industry grew, so did the surrounding area. Other mills sprang up along the river, including saw, cotton, and wool mills. Over the years most of the mills have been converted into offices, but Kenyon Mills continues to produce textiles and serves as a symbol of the town's history.
1. Quonochontaug Breachway
A popular fishing spot for striped bass, winter flounder, snapper, and bluefish, this state-owned 49-acre parcel runs parallel to the east side of the Quonochontaug Breachway. Parking is available at the end of West Beach Road for cars and boat trailers. The boat ramp located at this site provides access to Block Island Sound, but it is very dangerous due to swift currents running through the breachway. This site includes a RIDEM shellfish management area. A walk toward the wetland area fringing Quonochontaug Pond affords a beautiful view of the entire pond and some excellent bird watching.
2. Blue Shutters Town Beach
Located near the end of East Beach Road, this town-owned property offers many amenities such as showers, on-site pay parking, and concessions. This beautiful, wide, sandy beach is located just west of the Ninigret Conservation Area.
Picnic tables/benches, toilets, trash receptacles
3. Lavin's Landing Marina
Lavin's Landing Marina, located on Meadow Lane, offers bait, tackle, and fuel for sale. Parking is available. Fee.
4. East Beach/Ninigret State Facilities
At the east end of East Beach Road, a two-mile-long barrier beach separates Ninigret Pond from Block Island Sound. Ninigret Pond offers excellent windsurfing, canoeing, and shell-fishing. This is also a RIDEM shellfish management area. Winter flounder, clams, quahogs, blue crabs, eel, and bay scallops can be found here in season. On the ocean side, a beautiful sandy beach is great for sunbathing or walking. Four-wheel-drive vehicles are allowed behind the dunes only with a RIDEM permit. Bring your binoculars: Waterfowl, wildlife, and shorebirds can be found, especially during the fall and spring migrations. Parking is available. Fee.
Handicap access, swimming, toilets, trash receptacles
5. Charlestown Breachway Beach and Boat Ramp
This state-managed parcel consists of approximately 2 acres. It is located off the west end of Charlestown Beach Road and borders Ninigret Pond on the north and Block Island Sound on the south. The area consists of a wide sandy beach on the ocean, a rock jetty, which is a popular fishing site, a recreational vehicle campground along the east arm of the breachway, and a wetland area bordering Ninigret Pond. This is a great family spot due to its guarded beach and close fishing opportunities. A boat ramp is located at the north end of the breachway on the pond. Activities include fishing, swimming, beach-walking, and windsurfing. Ninety parking spaces are available on site, and there is an entrance fee during the summer season.
CRMC ROW#: B-1
Picnic tables/benches, toilets, trash receptacles
6. Charlestown Town Beach
South of Charlestown Beach Road, a section of the beach is owned by the town and is open to the public. Pay parking is available for approximately 300 cars about 500 feet across the road from the beach.
Hiking/walking, trash receptacles
7. Shelter Cove Marina
Shelter Cove Marina is located on Charlestown Beach Road. Parking is available. Fee.
8. Perry Creek Accessway
This site consists of a small dirt road extending north from the town beach parking lot (off Charlestown Beach Road) to a sandy shoreline area bordering Perry Creek. The tidal creek links Ninigret Pond to Green Hill Pond. This site is suitable only for small craft and kayaks due to the shallowness of the creek. Across the creek on the north side is a small area with a concession stand, bait shop, ramp, small boat docks, and a good view of Ninigret Pond. Parking is available.
Fishing, wildlife observation
9. Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge
Located just off Route 1, bordering the northwestern side of Ninigret Pond, this 400-acre federally maintained site consists of grasslands, brush and shrub, uplands, freshwater ponds, salt marsh, a barrier beach, and a portion of the former Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Landing Field. There are two well-marked nature trailsa must for nature photographers and bird watchers. There is plenty of parking available. Watch out for poison ivy and ticks.
Handicap access, picnic tables/benches, fishing, toilets, trash receptacles
10. Ninigret Park
A former naval air station, Ninigret Park is just north of the Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge. The park offers a wide variety of amenities, including nature trails, full-court basketball, volleyball, tennis, baseball, BMX bike courses, freshwater swimming, fitness trails, and a senior center. While the park does not offer direct shore access to Ninigret Pond, there is freshwater swimming available at Little Nini Pond. Plenty of parking is available. Wildlife is abundant here, as seen from the nature trails. The Frosty Drew Nature Center offers a series of nature programs.
Handicap access, picnic tables/benches, concessions, historic interest, toilets, trash receptacles
11. Fort Ninigret
Located at the end of Fort Ninigret Road, which extends south from Post Road, near Cross' Mills, the site of Fort Ninigret occupies a bluff overlooking the northern end of Ninigret Pond. Once an Indian stronghold and trading center, the park is maintained as a memorial to the Narragansett and Niantic tribes. Although there is no access to the pond, this is a great place for picnicking, kite flying, or viewing the pond and barrier beach. Parking is limited.
12. Ocean House Marina
Located off Town Dock Road on Fort Neck Cove, Ocean House Marina is privately owned, but offers a public boat launch for a nominal fee. The marina is situated in a well-protected cove of Ninigret Pond in a picturesque setting. In addition to a boat ramp, Ocean House also has a bait shop, boat repair, and trailer parking for customers.
Handicap access, dock, picnic tables/benches, fishing, toilets, trash receptacles
Burlingame State Park
A 2,100-acre state park bordering 1,000-acre Watchaug Pond, this site is primarily deciduous woodland with tracts of planted conifers. There are hiking trails, picnic areas, 755 campsites, and a freshwater bathing area in Watchaug Pond. During the winter, large flocks of waterfowl may be seen on Watchaug Pond, and it is not uncommon to see a bald eagle in the area during this season. Burlingame is also a good place for canoeing. Note: The campground portion of the park is open only to registered campers.
For more information, contact R.I. DEM, Division of Parks and Recreation, Burlingame Park, (401) 322-8910 (summer only), or (401) 222-2632.
From Rte. 1 in Charlestown, follow signs into park. You will turn onto unmarked Old Post Rd. After 0.5 mile, signs will lead north to Klondike Rd., which runs into park. To reach public bathing and picnic areas on Watchaug Pond, take Prosser Trail exit.
Burlingame Wildlife Management Area
North of Watchaug Pond, the Burlingame area is managed primarily as a wildlife habitat. Coyote, fox, muskrat, white-tailed deer, and wild turkey are among the animals tat make their homes in the deciduous and coniferous forest, along with a wide variety of songbirds and other wildlife. This area abuts the Pawcatuck River on the west. Two man-made marshes on the north side support wetland species. While the management area is managed for hunting, Burlingame State Park, to the south, is closed to hunting.
For more information, contact R.I. DEM, Division of Fish, Wildlife, and Estuarine Resources, (401) 789-3094.
Take Rte. 1 to Rte. 216. Follow Rte. 216 north 2.5 miles. Turn right onto Buckeye Brook Rd. Proceed 2 miles to entrance on left, leading to Clawson Trail.
Home | Text version