Prudence Island

Posted By on July 28, 2018

Prudence Island

5 miles; Portsmouth, RI

[Ed. Note: I have been EXTREMELY remiss in posting for the past few months. A lot of personal drama. But I have made a vow to post at least once a day until I’m caught up. So watch the dates on these, as there is quite a backlog.]

Some friends and I did a bit of exploration on this Narragansett Bay island, technically part of the town of Portsmouth, but it was so hot and VERY buggy (ticks, especially, but also mosquitos and gnats) that we did more exploration by car than by foot. Still managed a respectable 5 miles, though.

On the Ferry

On the Ferry

The only way to get to the island is via ferry from Bristol. If you’re just a passenger, it’s a minimal fee. And if you get there early enough, there is a small municipal parking lot directly across from the ferry terminal which is free. But it’s very small and cramped, and you’d better get there early…

Big Ol' Tying Up Things

Big Ol’ Tying Up Thing

I’m sure there’s a nautical name for this. It’s a big old ring for tying up to.

Queen Ann's Lace

Queen Ann’s Lace

I’ve always been fascinated by the one little dark purple flower in the middle of these plants.

Mysterious Mansion

Mysterious Mansion

Just before we got to our first trailhead, we passed this mysterious mansion. If I understand the local lore correctly, it was built by a multimillionaire after he was forced ashore onto the island by weather, and he was so enamored of the place he promptly built a mansion, but then got sick and died and never got to live there.

Pretty Marsh

Pretty Marsh

Our trail went by several serene salt marshes.

Bug Nets For All

Bug Nets For All

This is the northern terminus of the trail we were on. You can just see downtown Providence on the horizon on the righthand side. Also, by this time we were all covered in insect spray and bug nets, and still being tormented. It was a hot, muggy, and VERY BUGGY day.

Sea Lavender

Sea Lavender

The sea lavender was in bloom.

Apples!

Apples!

There were lots of feral fruit trees along our walk, a testament to the area’s history as a farming community.

The Prudence Island School

The Prudence Island School

There is a very tiny year round resident population on the island, and this adorable little schoolhouse is where the younger kids go to school. I think by Middle School, they have to take a boat to Portsmouth proper to continue their education.

Pulpit Rock

Pulpit Rock

Again according to local lore, this rock was where Roger Williams did his best to Christianize the Native population.

Tee Wharf

Tee Wharf

The very southern end of the island was once owned by the US Navy, and it was where they stored munitions. My mom actually worked for the commander of this little installation, and had to take a boat to work every day which tied up at this huge T-shaped wharf. It’s now all part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERRS), and a is a very popular spot for swimming and partying.

We made only 1 more foray on foot this day, on a trail labeled “The Desert Trail.” You can find out more about hiking on Prudence Island from this very excellent trail map (PDF) published by NERRS. As always, click the image above for details about this hike and to download the gps track.

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