Where are the Seals?
H. Chafee Nature Preserve at Rome Point is located on Route 1A (Boston
Neck Road) about 3/4 of a mile north of where Route 138 crosses Boston
Neck Road on the west side of the Narragansett Bay. From Warwick and
points north, as well as from the southern Rhode Island coast, take
Route 4(1) to 138 east. If you are coming from the west or Connecticut via Route 95, take
Route 138 east towards Jamestown/Newport. Get off Route 138
the Route 1A exit, this is the last exit before the Jamestown-Verrazano
bridge. Take a left at the end of the exit, heading north on
Boston Neck Road.
public access gravel parking area is located on the right side of the
road about one mile north of the Route 138 intersection.
This link to a Google Map was provided by one of our seal watching friends, thanks to Matt C. for providing this map. Map for Rome Point
is a sign posted at the trailhead with a detailed map of the nature
preserve. First time visitors should study this map to get the lay of the land. Many visitors proceed down the
trail to the shoreline
and stop when they reach the bay; however, to see the seals you
will want to walk north (left) along the shoreline for an additional
1/2 mile. On nice days, this beautiful beach makes for a
fine bay side stroll.
Before the main trail reaches the shoreline, a gravel road branches off
to the left of the main path just past the
power line crossing at the
bottom of the hill. This cedar-lined road runs parallel to the beach.
The road is
easier walking than the beach (unless the trail is muddy or
icy) and is sheltered from the wind; if
you choose this path, bear right at the "Y" and right at the "T" to
Rome Point. Pay close attention if you choose to walk through
the woods, so that you are easily able to retrace your steps on the
return trip. There a number of trails criss-crossing this
property, so more adventurous visitors may choose to come and go on a
route of their own choosing.
The distance from the parking area to
Rome Point is
about 1 1/4 miles and the walk is easy and flat, except for
short, moderately steep hill. At a steady walking pace it
about 1/2 hour to reach Rome Point, however, beachcombers and hikers
accompanied by small children should plan on
a one-hour hike to reach
the prime seal-watching destination. Icy, muddy, or snow-covered trail conditions may also affect the time it takes to complete this hike.
When you reach Rome
Point, look to the east towards Conanicut Island
(Jamestown) and you will see a rock outcropping known to local mariners
as The Seven Sisters. If you are fortunate, there will be
seals hauled out on these rocks.
Seals can often be seen swimming
in this area; sometimes, they can be
observed leaping out of the water or splashing and frolicking with each other.
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