Folk music and camping in Rhode Island

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of August 8-14, 1996
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Folk music and camping in Rhode Island
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Folk music and camping in Rhode Island
Question: I will be going to Newport, Rhode Island, for the Folk Festival at Fort Adams State Park and would like to camp in the area. Could you tell me where would be the most scenic camping in the surrounding area, in addition to outdoor activities like canoeing, hiking, etc. Please write back! Thanks.

Carla Kleinhaut
New York, NY
[email protected]

Adventure Adviser: To minimize your drive time to and from Fort Adams State Park, your best bet is the 44-site campground at two-mile-long Sachuest Beach nearby, just east of Newport in Middletown. You can't go wrong with the beach's rolling dunes, surf-friendly waves, and plenty of lounge-inducing sand. Tent sites go for a hefty (this is Newport, after all) $25 to $30 per night, and are split between first-come, first-served and advance reservation sites. I have a funny feeling that you won't be the only festival-goer eyeballing Sachuest Beach Campground, so you'd be smart to call ASAP to check availability (401-846-6273).

Stretch your legs on a three-plus-mile hike through the adjacent, 450-acre, privately owned Norman Bird Sanctuary. Start the two-hour hike from the refuge buildings near the entrance off Third Beach Road, and follow the path through dense trees to Hanging Rock Ridge for stellar views of Gardiner Pond, Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, the Newport shoreline, and the Atlantic. From here, double back to where the trail started climbing and this time take the Red Fox Trail along a second ridge across a small valley to the Grey Craig Trail and back to the Valley Trail junction. Keep your eyes open for robins, cedar waxwings, kingbirds, and assorted sparrows and warblers, to name just a few. For more information, call the bird-lovers at the sanctuary at 401-846-2577.

Another good bet for walking in the area is the Ruecker Wildlife Refuge, a Rhode Island Audubon Society property in nearby Tiverton that's home to a slew of bird types: quail, herons, and nuthatches, not to mention hordes of fiddler crabs. The hike's a short one--only a mile and a half round-trip via the yellow, blue, and red trails--which means you'll have plenty of time to dilly-dally along the way in the sanctuary's old farm fields, salt marshes, and hickory groves. Call 401-624-2759 for more details.

As for canoeing, Rhode Island's a small state (tiny, in fact), so driving to a good paddling spot, like the Great Swamp near Kingston or the Narrow River along the Narragansett Bay shore, won't eat into your vacation time too much. Interstate 95 passes just to the west of Great Swamp, in the south, so consider stopping for a few hours on the water with the resident herons, mallards, and (cringe) water moccasins. The nearby Wood River in Exeter, just to the north, has plenty of good trout and bass fishing. Quaker Lane Bait and Tackle in North Kingston rents canoes and kayaks and leads one- to three-day trips along the laid-back, Class I and II Wood River. Call them at 401-294-9642 for more details.

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