Sachuest in summer, Middletown, RI

Fisherman hoping for a catch even as the waves grew higher

We have visted Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge a number of times, but typically in the winter, and often because we have been nearly certain we will spot snowy owls at some point during our visit. Because of impending rain, we hoped this popular spot would be less crowded, even though it was a holiday weekend in mid-summer. We were surprised, however, at the number of others who had the same idea we did, even as storm clouds threatened.

Spotting plenty of milkweed plants in bloom was a good sign. These coastal Rhode Island spots, jutting out into Long Island Sound, are important jumping off spots for Monarch butterflies in their annual epic migration south. Milkweed plants are essential food for this remarkable species of butterflies.

Sachuest on a stormy summer afternoon

The surf was rough. Although we saw fishermen out on the rocks surfcasting, I did not envy them. The waves kept crashing into the rocks along the shoreline, and the tide was coming in. We kept our feet on solid ground and kept moving.

Terns dove into the rough surf hoping to catch a meal, while loons cruised just off shore. The wind was stiff, tossing the waves backwards as they rushed to the shoreline

The loop trail along the shoreline of Sachuest offers great footing for visitors. This is a well-maintained property, with amazing views all along the penisula jutting out into the ocean. Benches along the way offer spots to rest awhile and take in the views. We spotted some loons and cormorants just offshore. A tern pair hovered and dove into the waters just off the rocky shoreline, hoping to catch a fish unawares. Those with fishing poles were not the only ones eager to catch a meal.

We were prepared for rain, but glad the heavy downpours held off till we got back to our car

When we visit in winter we are always certain to see what are called “rafts” of seabirds floating just offshore, or resting on the nearby rocks. Summer offers other delights, and while we did see birds, they were not in the numbers we enjoy on our winter visits.

This dead tree continues to stand against punishing sea breezes. Woodpeckers have riddled the trunk with holes

Just to the east we spotted clouds getting darker and heavier, and soon saw what was clearly downpours heading our way. While we brought our raincoats, we decided it was time to head back, and returned to our car just in time to avoid getting drenched. For tose looking to avoid crowds in this popular place, walking in the rain is a pretty good placde to start. As we left, the parking area had nearly cleared out.

While this special place is not ADA handicapped accessible, the packed dirt paths provide extremely solid footing, are very level, and the trails are well-marked. We did not see deer or owls this visit, but we spied multiple warblers and enjoyed their bird song as we made our way around the one-mile loop trail. Additional loop trails provide three miles in total of trails along this shoreline spot

From another visit, with very different weather, near sunset

To see Sachuest in another season, check out this additional blog post and happy trails!:


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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