By Katy Killilea
Drive time from Providence, RI: @ 38 minutes (@ 28 miles) (directions)
Tiverton is home to some of Rhode Island’s best sandwiches and cookies (at Provender) cheese (at Milk and Honey Bazaar) and ice cream (at Gray’s), all of which make going for a family hike there a brilliant idea.
There are many enticing options for hikes in Tiverton. Weetamoo Woods is just half a mile from Tiverton Four Corners (located at the intersection of routes 77 and 179, and the home of the above-referenced delicacies) and makes for an exciting hike for a wide age range. Our group was comprised of two moms and four kids (ages 5, 5, 6, and 7.) We saw a family with young teenagers and a twelve-year-old who seemed equally well-matched for the hike.
Other than proximity to high-quality snacks, what’s so special about Weetamoo Woods? The hiking trail is what was once Rhode Island’s only highway. (History!) Stone walls and stone slab bridges are regular features, as mighty as the days they were built centuries ago. (Architecture!) As we ventured through the woods, we found princess pines, holly trees, onion grasses, and skunk cabbages. (Botany!) The stone bridges cross brooks of various depths and speeds. (Water to throw sticks into!) And then, at last, we reached High Rock.
High Rock is indeed a very large rock. When you reach the top of it, you find yourself up above the treetops. Our kids were flabbergasted by their achievement. (“This is the highest mountain in the world!” and “This is the awesomest place I’ve ever seen!”) The adults in our group ruled out a High Rock game of hide-and-seek that was percolating. It did feel slightly treacherous, and a younger child or someone uncoordinated could easily fall quite a distance and get hurt. However, my perception of danger may have been skewed by my poor choice of footwear (boiled wool clogs). Next time I’ll wear sneakers or hiking boots. Reaching and climbing High Rock was a reasonable goal for our group of moderately experienced child hikers.
Our version of the hike took just over two hours, which included much leaf collecting, fallen log-balancing, and squatting on streamside rocks with sticks, aka “fishing.” According to Ken Weber’s excellent book Weekend Walks in Rhode Island: 40 Trails for Hiking, Birding & Nature Viewing the entire trail system is 5 1/4 miles, and would take an adult hiker three hours to complete. We saw perhaps one mile’s worth of the trail on our hike.
An ideal daytrip including a Weetamoo Woods hike might look like this:
Start in Tiverton with lunch or breakfast at Provender (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays; the cowboy cookies are highly recommended), drive the half mile down 179 (West) to the entrance and parking area for Weetamoo Woods (if you reach the fire station on the right, you have gone a smidge too far). Hike for a few hours and then stop at Gray’s for ice cream (open seven days a week; all of the flavors get good marks, though for kids who like as much of their food as possible to be bright pink, the cherry vanilla is a good bet). If you’re coming from the Providence area, drive down or back home via the Mount Hope Bridge (Bristol), which has a view that always makes me so grateful to live in Rhode Island.
Photo Credit: Katy Killilea