June 2010: Beavertail State Park

Jamestown, Rhode Island

The first lighthouse built at Beavertail was the third in the country when it was lit in 1749 - after only the Boston Harbor Light (1716) and the Great Point Light on Nantucket (1746). Four years later the Newport Light, as it was called, became America’s first lighthouse to burn to the ground. The rubble tower that was built next lasted a full century until it was replaced by the current granite lighthouse that guides vessels into Narragansett Bay. The United States Navy took control of this point in World War II and erected Fort Burnside, named to honor Civil War general and Rhode Island governor Ambrose Burnside. In 1980 the state acquired the land as surplus property.

You can hike with your dog from one end of the park to the other atop the rocky shoreline on park roads and a narrow dirt path. If the weather is calm and the seas benign you can include the craggy rocks in your route. The views will be spectacular at almost any point in your hike with four specific overlooks designated. Interpretive signs describe the area, including the Beavertail fault with its geologic story of ancient Rhode Island. Make sure to bring plenty of fresh water for your dog at Beavertail. There isn’t much shade out on the point and no drinking water.

Take Interstate Rt. 95 South, to Route 4 South, to Route 1 South, to Route 138 East, to North Main Road, to South East Avenue, to Beavertail Road.