We’ve been hearing so much about South Shore Beach in Little Compton, RI, that we figured we had to give it a try. We do not recommend this excursion as a hike (which was our original intent), but we do endorse it as a beach trip!
First of all, if you’re coming from the Mass South Shore area, the drive to Little Compton is beautiful–no matter which roads you take. What a gorgeous area! The roads are lined with fields, farms, sweeping vistas of ocean. There are numerous farm stands, cafes, restaurants, ice cream shops, vineyards…what more could you want?! South Shore Beach fills up on weekends, but during the week, there seems to be ample parking. Try to get a parking spot along the beach side–when the tide is high, you may actually need to put your chairs up on the pavement in front of your cars! The waves here are quite large some of the beach is reserved just for surfing. The water is warm for swimming, and when the tide is out, the beach is relatively smooth and rock-free. There are also lifeguards and porta potties.
We walked east along the beach to Goosewing Beach Preserve, but honestly, it wasn’t what we were expecting. The Preserve trails are not super well marked–it’s just mowed grass. The Benjamin Family Nature Center was closed, and the kids were not in the mood for walking in the grass instead of just playing at the beach. Bottom line: we recommend this beach, but there are much nicer areas (in our opinion) for exploring the South Coast beaches and their accompanying habitats. (See our posts on Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge and Gooseberry Island for better coastal hiking alternatives.)
HOW TO GET THERE
S. Shore Rd.
Little Compton, RI 02837
TRAIL DESCRIPTION & MAP
Trail Map There is no map, but click on the link for more information.
Basically, walk east along the beach (away from the entrance). You’ll see a sign for the Preserve next to a little shack. Here’s the important piece of info that nothing online told us, however: you have to CROSS A RAGING STREAM THAT EMPTIES INTO THE BEACH IN ORDER TO GET TO THIS PART OF THE BEACH. Or you could swim to that part. Perhaps at low tide you can walk the beach to get across, but at high tide, we’d imagine it’s almost uncrossable! We got there when the tide was about half-way up, and we had one kid lose a Croc, another lose a bracelet, and another fall and get swept down the stream almost into the ocean. That said, the kids loved this part more than anything! But it is definitely not for the faint of heart or anyone unstable on their feet.
Rated on a scale of 1 (difficult/not good) to 5 (easy/awesome!)
P – Parking & Access – 4 (The parking lot is huge, but it fills up and they turn people away on weekends. There is a cost to park here–currently $15 on weekdays, $20 on weekends for a day pass.)
I – Interest Level – 3 (This was a bust with our kids for the nature preserve. The Benjamin Family Environmental Center was closed so we walked there for nothing, but the kids loved crossing the stream and had a great time playing in the sand and surf.)
N – Navigation – 3 (We expected more to see/more acreage based on the descriptions we read. It looks small and the trails appeared well mowed enough to just wander around them without getting lost, but–full disclosure–once we had crossed the stream, the preserve lost its appeal and we didn’t get very far.)
T – Terrain – 1 (Honestly, crossing that really fast stream with a very rocky and uneven bottom was no joke. This is one of the most difficult things we’ve done while “hiking” with the kids!)
The P.I.N.T. Score represents our opinions of this trail. It reflects our experience, perception, and physical health. Therefore, the scores are not intended to be expert advice, nor will they be accurate for everyone: we cannot judge what may or may not be appropriate for each individual’s different abilities. Consult a physician or medical expert before attempting any new physical activity. Hiking contains inherent hazards, so hike at your own risk. You should always make your own decisions about what level of physical activity is appropriate for you and your family. Weather and other factors may affect trail conditions. Remember, trail conditions may change suddenly and drastically at any time.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- The swimming beach
2. The stream that you have to cross to get to the Goosewing Beach Preserve area
3. Goosewing Beach Preserve
Not far up route 77 is Walker’s Roadside Stand. We LOVE this place. Their sandwiches are awesome. Unfortunately, the sandwiches are so good, they were sold out of everything except turkey (we’ll pass…) by the time we got there around 1pm. 🙁 The baked goods and the iced coffee are great here! Just down the road a bit further is Gray’s Ice Cream. It’s pricey ($5 for the smallest cup, while only $7 for a huge milkshake; we recommend a coffee cabinet/frappe!), but delicious.
Across from Gray’s is Groundswell. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it over to this bakery/cafe, but it looks absolutely amazing. We’re adding it to our list for next time!
For a more classic hike in the area, check out our post on Fort Barton in Tiverton.