Jamestown RI Parks and Recreation

Conanicut Island is nine miles long by one mile wide. Its highest elevation is 135 feet.

There is a quiet rural character to much of the island. Even Jamestown's commercial center has the feel of a traditional village. A few farms remain, older neighborhoods are intact and historic properties, including lighthouses, windmills and the remains of old military fortifications, offer connection to the past. With its abundance of open space, lightly traveled roadways and pleasant views, the island is an excellent locale for walking and riding bicycles.

This page will provide information on some of the areas that have been set aside as natural and recreational areas.

 
Trails:
 
The Jamestown Conservation Commission, in cooperation with The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is developing an an island-wide trail guide for Conanicut Island and erecting several interpretive signs.

The reduced-size map at right is an excerpt from the 2003 statewide map. Click on the map for a much larger version showing the Jamestown area. Click here for the statewide bike map (note: this is a large, 3.9 MB pdf file). For up-to-date information on the more than 50 miles of East Coast Greenway trails in Rhode Island, and more information on biking, walking, hiking and rollerblading, visit the website of the Greenways Alliance of Rhode Island, which is the Rhode Island Affiliate of the East Coast Greenway Alliance.

 
Parks:
 
Beavertail State Park, situated at the southern end of Conanicut Island, contains an historic lighthouse, a lighthouse museum and a small aquarium (housed in the former fog horn building) that offers close inspection of the kinds of creatures living around the rocks and tidal pools not very far away. Kids love it. The animals are periodically returned to the natural environment and new specimens are gathered to maintain the display. URI has prepared a guide to Beavertail's rocky shore environment and even a wonderful 18 page virtual field trip to the park. It is geared to students in grades 3 to 12, but if you are older, you are welcome to come along too.
   
Beavertail's rocky point offers wonderful views of the East and West Passages and the Atlantic as well as a network of paths for walking or cycling. Its periphery is bordered by large slabs of broken rocks that provide places to picnic, climb, or sit and simply enjoy the sights. The rocky areas can be accessed by crossing grass and low brush bordering the shore, or by using stone stairs.

(See our
Lighthouse page for additional information on Beavertail light.)

Fort Wetherill State Park, on the east side of Conanicut Island, directly across from Newport's Fort Adams, is open daily for hiking, fishing and picnicing. The strategic location and topography of the site were recognized early. Its military history goes back to the Revolutionary War.
This more than 60 acre park offers panoramic views of the Bay and Newport, fifty-foot-high granite outcroppings, bluffs, coves, extensive grassy areas, picnic tables and several parking areas.
     
Fort Getty Recreational Area is located just west of Mackerel Cove Beach, off of Beavertail Road. Overlooking West Passage, it offers 25 tentsites and 100 trailer sites for use by campers. During World Wars I and II, it was used for observation and protection of the entrance to Narragansett Bay. The park offers a boat ramp, fishing area, camper services and showers. For more information and campsite reservations call (401) 423-7264.
 
  Mackerel Cove Beach has long attracted residents and vistors for swimming, sunning and pure relaxation. Situated on a narrow neck of land joining the southern end of Southwest Avenue and the northern end of Beavertail Road, the sandy beach is located between the Fort Wetherill and Fort Getty Recreational areas, across the road from Sheffield Cove and near the Fox Hill nature area.

The Conanicut Battery National Historic Park on Prospect Hill is located on Battery Lane, off of Beavertail Road, just south of Fort Getty Road. This 22 acre site, owned by the town of Jamestown, includes the remains of earthen fortifications built during the Revolutionary War - originally, in 1776, by Rhode Island Colonists, then by the British, who restructured the fortifications and remained on the island through 1779.  The area also saw military use during both World Wars.  The Connanicut Battery Park facilities were recently upgraded. Visitors will find well-marked trails with information on the history of the site and earthen forts in general.

Birding:

There are a number of fine bird viewing areas on the island owing to the large amount of relatively undeveloped land offering diverse habitats. The island has areas of rocky shores, sandy shores, woods, grassland, marsh and tidal flats. Good places for bird watching include:

  • Potter Cove, just east of the toll plaza, alongside East Shore Road

  • Marsh Meadows, east of North Main Road in the Great Creek area. The Audubon Society of Rhode Island (ASRI) owns 21 acres of saltwater marsh (access by written permission).

  • The Conanicut Island Sanctuary, in a reedy portion of the Great Creek estuary, just west of the Newport Bridge toll plaza and north of the golf course. Enter from Conanicus Avenue. The one-mile long trail loops through a variety of habitats.

  • Sheffield Cove Marsh, 5 acres owned by ASRI. Located across Southwest Avenue from Mackerel Cove Beach and near to the 45 acre Fox Hill Salt Marsh also owned by ASRI (access by written permission). See these areas from the Kit Wright Nature Trail located in the Fort Getty Recreational Area.

  • ASRI's 20 acre Racquet Road Thicket

  • The Fort Wetherill/ Dumplings area, about a mile southeast of East Ferry.

  • Beavertail Point State Park
    at the southern tip of the island
Click on the image to see off-island areas to the east and west

The Rhode Island Sea Grant Daytripper's Guide to Jamestown, part of the Daytripper's Guide to Rhode Island, provides information on Jamestown coastal access points and wildlife areas. The site offers an online version of Public Access to the Rhode Island Coast (February 1993), combined with portions of A Guide to Rhode Island's Natural Places (1995). Information ( .pdf format) includes a detailed interactive map of the state (from which the Jamestown parkland map shown above was derived).

Other Outdoor Activities:
 
For a change of pace and a chance to commune with nature in an unhurried manner, consider surfcasting.
If you need help in finding good places to fish, or you would like to learn more about the art and the science of this traditional Jamestown sport, consider a guided surfcasting trip with outdoor writer and shore guide Joe Lyons of Surfcasting Rhode Island. Outings are offered at all experience levels. Joe will provide all necessary bait, lures and other equipment.
 
Watson Farm combines History and Nature:
 
Watson Farm, 1796 North Road, is a special place owned by the Society for Preservation of New England Antiguities that provides insight into the way people lived in Jamestown for three hundred years. The main farmhouse was built in 1796, and the farm has been in continuous use ever since. Self-guided and group tours are available. Admission is free. (401) 423-0005.
The 280 acre farm has cattle, sheep, horses, a large vegetable garden and two miles of picturesque trails. The property includes salt water estuaries, swamps, woodlands, hayfields, orchards, and open pastures.

A visit can be a rich learning experience as well as a reminder of a lifestyle that flourished in many similar seaside farms in Rhode Island.

 
Jamestown Golf Course:
 
Jamestown Golf Course, 245 Conanicus Avenue, (401) 423-9930,  a 9 Hole public golf course, is located minutes from historic Newport, and is one of the oldest public courses in the country.  Originally known as Conanicut Golf Club, it opened in 1895, near the Dumplings, in what had been a cow pasture. 
 
In 1901 a new clubhouse was erected on the south side of the course and links were laid out on the Littlefield-Clarke farm, today's Jamestown Country Club. The clubhouse was moved to its present location on Conanicus Avenue in 1951.

The course contains 74.36 acres, with various environmentally sensitive land management areas.  More information is available at http://www.jamestowngolf.com/

 
Pet Recreation: Read what Simon, an observant and articulate dog, has to tell you about places he likes to visit and why. They include Jamestown's Beavertail State Park and Fort Getty, as well as Scarborough Beach State Park in Narragansett, Goddard State Park in Warwick and Bretton Point State Park in Newport.

Find out about destinations in nearby South County, Providence and other places to visit on our Nearby Destinations page.


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Updated July 9, 2008. Direct questions and comments on this site to Webmaster