Tiverton RI

Tiverton means “tavern town.” You were allowed to have a tavern at a crossroads, and Tiverton had a crossroads. Today we call this crossroads “Tiverton Four Corners.” Four Corners is a nice neighborhood, with old houses and shops. A stream (Borden Brook) runs through the line of shops; perhaps the stream once powered a mill.

Just east of Four Corners (on East Road, also known as Route 179) is Weetamoo Woods, which has some seven miles of trails, and merges with Pardon Gray Preserve, which has another two miles of trails. You can think of Weetamoo/Gray as a large rectangle, extending north from Route 179, bounded on the west by Main Road (Route 77), bounded on the east by Lake Road, and bounded on the north by Lafayette Road (the eastern part of Lafayette Road is a dirt road, closed to cars). Weetamoo/Gray can be accessed on any of its four sides, but I usually park at the lot on Route 179.

The trail heads north from Route 179, following an old colonial road. As Ken Weber says in More Walks and Rambles in Rhode Island, “The trail begins on what was Eight Rod Way, a road begun in 1679 as a link between Sakonnet Point and Plymouth Colony.... The ambitious project was never completed, but here you can see just how impressive a road eight rods, or 132 feet, wide would be.” There’s a road in North Kingstown, Rhode Island called “Ten Rod Road.” The colonists used wide roads to drive herds of livestock; as Wikipedia says, “Drovers’ roads are often wider than other roads, able to accommodate large herds or flocks.” There are several streams in Weetamoo/Gray, with charming stone-work creating bridges, mill-races, etc. There are also some old foundations (house sites).

The bridges in Weetamoo are of two kinds, slab and arch. Below is one of Weetamoo’s arch bridges:

This arch-style bridge was built without cement.
It’s part of the old mill.

Weetamoo is owned by the town of Tiverton, while Gray is owned by the Tiverton Land Trust. Weetamoo/Gray is an “oak-holly forest,” like you find in Little Compton. Weetamoo/Gray also has a cedar swamp.

Two or three miles north of Four Corners, on Route 77, is an open space called Pocasset Ridge.

One of my favorite spots in Tiverton is the Emilie Ruecker Refuge. Ruecker is a series of small hills (drumlins?), surrounded by salt marshes and the Sakonnet River. Lots of oak trees, and an occasional osprey. In Walks and Rambles in Rhode Island, Ken Weber calls Ruecker “a little jewel.”

From Ruecker, you can drive south to Fogland Beach; this is one of the most charming drives in Rhode Island, with farms, stone walls, and water views.

Ruecker is owned by Audubon. Another Audubon refuge with short trails and salt marshes is the Touisset Marsh Refuge in Warren. Touisset Marsh is about eight miles north of Ruecker. As Ruecker is on the east side of the Sakonnet River, so Touisset is on the east side of the Kickemuit River. You might see hawks patrolling Touisset’s fields.

Two or three miles north of Ruecker, on Highland Road, is Fort Barton, a RevolutionaryWar fort with earthworks. There’s a short, paved trail to a tower; the tower offers a good view of the Sakonnet River, Aquidneck Island, Island Park, Mt. Hope Bridge, etc. Behind the tower are several miles of trails.

Below is a 2.5-mile trail that starts at Fort Barton. It crosses Archer Brook, then Sin & Flesh Brook. The terrain is up-and-down, cliff-and-valley. I think there are some erratic boulders, indicating glacial action. During the first 3/4 mile, there are lots of oak and holly, but later you’ll see lots of laurel. After rain or snow-melt, the trail can be muddy, so waterproof shoes might be needed.