Ninigret Refuge

Ninigret is a National Wildlife Refuge on the southern coast of Rhode Island. There’s also a town park called Ninigret, adjacent to the Wildlife Refuge (the town park is owned by the town of Charlestown, RI). The town park “enjoys the darkest skies in Rhode Island and much of the eastern seaboard, and is home to the Frosty Drew Nature Center and Observatory where the public is invited to see the stars and planets with telescopes every Friday night.” Charlestown is so proud of its dark skies and its observatory that it has special laws limiting the use of flood-lights, street-lights, etc.

In many ways, Ninigret resembles Trustom. Both are on the southern coast of Rhode Island, both have trails that lead to views of a coastal pond. Both ponds are formed by a barrier beach. Both lack trails that take you around the pond to the barrier beach and the ocean. So if you want to get to the ocean, you’ll need to drive around the pond. The map below shows Ninigret trails, and also a drive to the ocean; the drive goes along East Beach Road.

Below is a terrain map of southern Rhode Island, with Ninigret in the center, and Trustom further east. You’ll notice a moraine (hilly land) north of Route 1, and flat land south of Route 1.

The flat land is an Outwash Plain. A sign at Ninigret Refuge says that the Plain was good for farming, though the soil may have been somewhat sandy. Later Ninigret Refuge became an airport, a training area for Navy pilots; the flat terrain was well suited for an airport. Southern Rhode Island resembles Long Island, Nantucket, and Cape Cod; in all three places, the southern section has Outwash Plain, and north of the Plain is hilly ground (glacial moraine).

Since Ninigret was once an airport, there are indications of old runways, etc. The trails aren’t as scenic as the Trustom trails.

Ken Weber’s More Walks and Rambles in Rhode Island has a chapter on Ninigret Refuge.