5 winter walks on RI beaches

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Benches look out to the eastern sky as light breaks over Second Beach in Middletown in 2011. Providence Journal File Photo/Frieda Squires
Benches look out to the eastern sky as light breaks over Second Beach in Middletown in 2011. Providence Journal File Photo/Frieda Squires

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Rhode Island’s beaches are known as summer destinations, but they’re also great to visit for peaceful walks in the winter when the crowds are gone and you want to decompress from the workweek.

From the beaches on either side of Narragansett Bay to those on the Washington County coast, there are plenty of choices, whether you want to go out alone to get away from it all or take your family out for a bracing stroll in the cool weather.

These are a few of my favorites.

Second Beach, Middletown [MAP]

This is an oceanfront beach on the other side of Rhode Island. It’s wide and long, stretching from Paradise Avenue to a rocky stretch of shore that leads to Sachuest Point.

The beach offers easy walks along flat sand. This beach is also a great place to look for rocks worn round and smooth by ocean waves.

You can make a day out of a visit to the beach with a stop at the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge or the Norman Bird Sanctuary.

To get there: From Aquidneck Avenue, take Purgatory Road to Hanging Rock Road to Sachuest Point Road. There’s a large parking lot on the right side of the road.


You can spend hours exploring the shoreline along Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly. Providence Journal File Photo/Mary Murphy
You can spend hours exploring the shoreline along Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly. Providence Journal File Photo/Mary Murphy

Misquamicut State Beach, Westerly [MAP]

Misquamicut State Beach is is one portion of an expansive barrier beach that fronts Winnapaug Pond and looks out onto the Atlantic Ocean.

This and the other beaches here offer many choices for walks. You can wander down to the water or spend hours exploring the shoreline, going east to the Weekapaug Breachway or west all the way to Napatree Point.

If you live in Providence or elsewhere in northern Rhode Island, this is a great day trip.

To get there: From Winnapaug Road turn left onto Atlantic Avenue and park in the lot on the right side of the road.


Sapowet Beach in Tiverton lies along the edge of the 260-acre Sapowet Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Providence Journal File Photo/Bob Breidenbach
Sapowet Beach in Tiverton lies along the edge of the 260-acre Sapowet Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Providence Journal File Photo/Bob Breidenbach

Sapowet Beach, Tiverton [MAP]

This is a small, rocky beach that curves north toward Sapowet Point on the Sakonnet River. The beach lies along the edge of the 260-acre Sapowet Marsh Wildlife Management Area in a part of Tiverton dotted with small farms and waterfront homes.

Follow the beach from the mouth of Sapowet Cove around a row of sumac. You’ll find beautiful views of the salt marsh and the woodlands beyond and might see a flock of sea ducks in the waters off the beach. Watch your footing on the way. The rocks can be slippery.

Combine this with one of the other walks in the area, including the nearby trail at the Audubon Society’s Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge or the many trails in Weetamoo Woods, which is a couple of miles inland.

To get there: Take Route 77 to Seapowet Avenue and follow the road to the bridge over Sapowet Cove. The state Department of Environmental Management is still finishing a new parking area off the road, but there’s parking available in the clearing on the north side of the bridge.


Barrington Beach was covered in snow as Gates Callanan walks her dog Chance along the waterfront. The Providence Journal file photo/Bob Thayer
Barrington Beach was covered in snow as Gates Callanan walks her dog Chance along the waterfront. The Providence Journal file photo/Bob Thayer

Barrington Town Beach, Barrington [MAP]

I’m fortunate to live close to this beach, a favorite destination for my kids and dogs. From the town parking lot, walk past a row of big waterfront homes before getting to the small, scenic marsh in front of RISD’s Tillinghast Farm that was recently restored by Save The Bay. The beach continues past the Rhode Island Country Club as it narrows toward Nayatt Point.

This is a great beach to look for sea glass. The views of Narragansett Bay are spectacular. And the beach is within easy reach of Providence.

To get there: Take Nayatt Road to Bay Road, which ends at a parking lot at the beach.


Charlestown Town Beach offers unobstructed ocean views. Providence Journal File Photo/Sandor Bodo
Charlestown Town Beach offers unobstructed ocean views. Providence Journal File Photo/Sandor Bodo

Charlestown Town Beach, Charlestown [MAP]

Getting to the beaches in South County can be stressful in the summer when traffic backs up on Route 1. In the winter, though, it’s a breeze. Charlestown Town Beach is one of those places that clears out when the weather gets colder.

Park on the east side of the Charlestown Breachway, where you’ll be able to see Ward Island and the marsh along Ninigret Pond in the South Shore Management Area. Follow the breachway to the beach, where you’ll be greeted by unobstructed ocean views.

From there, you can walk along the beach on the other side of first Ninigret Pond and then Green Hill Pond. The beach stretches far, but the sand is soft and the walk can get a little tiring.

To get there: Follow Charlestown Beach Road to where it ends at the parking lot by the breachway.

akuffner@providencejournal.com

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