North South Trail - Charlestown is a 11.7 mile point-to-point trail located near Charlestown, Rhode Island and is good for all skill levels. The trail is primarily used for hiking, horses, and mountain biking and is accessible year-round. Dogs and horses are also able to use this trail.
From the sea, through the swamp and into the woods, ending at pond This is a nice, easy hike to start you journey along the North South Trail in RI. We started this trail with about fifteen boys on their first hike and had no problems. Not as scenic as many of the other hikes along the North South, and some time on both paved and dirt roads, but a few pleasant surprises. Nice covered bridge maintained by the AMC in the middle - far from anywhere. Crystal brook which provides ice cold relief - don't forget your filter! A combination of the map included here and the guidebook "The North South Trail" by Cliff Vanover made this entire trek a success!
My grandson and I hiked 9.6 mi of this section SOBO, preferring to skip the first couple of miles of blacktop and finish at Blue Shutters Beach. The trail was open, easy and pleasant, with no tough climbs and no uncertain terrain. Finding the covered bridge was fun and provided a great spot for a break, as did the picnic table at the no-longer-used campsite in Burlingame State Park. The finale at the beach was a welcome reward for that last mile of trekking on more blacktop in unrelenting sun.
Rode north to south and was a bit more challenging than expected, as about 25% of the trail within Burlingame was washed out by recent rains which meant some real "off-road" biking. Once we hit the paved stretches, it was clear all the way to the beach at the southern-most end of the trail. Cooled our tired feet in the surf! A local science teacher we encountered at the start pointed out a geological phenomenon called a "glacial erratic" (see photo). Apparently, only one of a very few in all of Rhode Island. He recounted how local Narragansett tribes would rock it back and forth creating a sound which could be heard for miles - they used it to summon outlying villages to great gatherings. The erratic is located 20 feet off the road approx. 200 yards east of the intersection of Shumankanuc Hill Rd and Kings Factory Road (on the southwestern edge of the Indian Cedar Swamp Management Area)
The North South Trail begins at this point on Blue Shutters Beach, Charlestown. I didn't waste time on the beach, but parked in the lot and got moving. That its because within a mile or so, you get to what is perhaps the most dangerous point on the North South Trail: the Route 1 crossing. That crossing is why I never considered going near this section over the summer, what with the beach traffic. Even though I went after Labor Day, I had my reservations. Fortunately, on this particular day they were having a bicycle race that covered part of Route 1. The Charlestown Police were detailed right at the crossing, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to get help crossing Route 1. So, I never really stopped to look at Blue Shutters Beach.
Now, of course, with Sandy having battered the coast, I suppose I will never really get to appreciate what Blue Shutters was.
I have to say that this section just isn't a very inspiring start to the one trail that runs the entire length of the State. You spend a lot of time on the road in summer home/residential area before getting to Burlingame Management area.
Started our group hike for the North South Trail along this section. Although we completed the N/S Trail South to North we hiked this section north to south to end at the ocean. Had 2" to 4" of snow on ground at 32 degrees. The trail winds its way through wooded wetlands, crosses a brook by way of a small covered bridge and rounds the west side of Ninigret Pond. As with several sections of the N/S Trail has some paved road walking, this time about a mile to the beach. Still a great way to see rural Rhode Island. For more information check our journals at Blackstone Valley Outfitters website.