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Planning a “Rhode” trip to The Ocean State? No excursion to Little Rhody would be complete without walking along the picturesque coastlines, evergreen-filled forests, and more. That’s why today we’re bringing you 10 of the best hikes in Rhode Island! Without a doubt, hiking is one of the best outdoor things to do in Rhode Island.
Even if you’re not great with geography, most people know that Rhode Island is the smallest state in the U.S., covering a mere 1,212 sq. miles. Small states have some distinct advantages, though. Whether you’re in the country or the city, you’re never far away from the other when you need a change of pace for a day.
Fun fact: It only takes one hour to drive across the state of Rhode Island…diagonally. You have to admit, it’s kind of nice being within easy driving distance of everything!
You may be under the false assumption that there aren’t many hiking trails in Rhode Island due to its small size, but you would be incorrect! From the beautiful beach views, tranquil ponds surrounded by quiet forests, clifty coastlines, and cities rich with history, you can find all kinds of terrain to cover in every corner of the Ocean State.
Rhode Island offers 15 state parks to explore, 7 state beaches to spend a warm, sunny afternoon at, and 15 lighthouses remain along its coast as well. No matter what part of the state you spend your day in, you’ll work up an appetite walking and exploring all it has to offer, and naturally, seafood (especially clam chowder) is your best option!
Now that you know there is plenty of hiking in Rhode Island, let’s take a look at some of the top trails and walking paths in the state!
Best Beach Walks
Although the main part is only 37-miles wide, this state boasts 400 miles of coastline, so you can rest assured there are plenty of Rhode Island beach hikes to check out. It can be a bit tricky finding actual hikes (as opposed to beach walks or boardwalks) that include glorious sections of sandy and rocky coastline, but they are out there. In fact, they are arguably some of the best Rhode Island hiking you can find! Here are a couple of our favorites.
Napatree Point Conservation Area Trail
If you’re looking for an easy hike that offers nearly 360° views of the ocean all around without walking a public-use beach, you can’t beat the Napatree Point Conservation Area Trail. This 3.2-mile loop trail juts out into Fisher Island Sound, where Connecticut is right across the water. It’s great for bird-watching and bonus: Watch Hill Lighthouse is located nearby as well! Keep in mind you are on the ocean and this is a very narrow area, so it’s not a bad idea to check the tides and weather before you head out.
Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge Trail
Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge, located near Middletown, offers two short trails that many hikers like to combine for an extended time hiking along the rugged coastline of the bay. Altogether, the loop travels about 2.5-miles along the coastline of the refuge, which is an important stopover point for migratory birds. There are several shore access points along the way if you would like to get up-close and personal with the churning sea. Three observation platforms are conveniently located along the trail too, but there are really no bad views anywhere on this hike!
Best Walking Trails
With more and more people in cities all over the nation wanting safer places to get some fresh air and exercise over the past several decades, you can bet there are plenty of walking trails in Rhode Island. Here are two of the most popular ones in the state.
Blackstone River Bikeway
Though notably a bike path, foot traffic is also welcome along the 18-mile Blackstone River Bikeway. It offers numerous access points and runs through several towns, making it easily accessible. The trail is still under construction in some sections, but you can enjoy the old mills along the river, marshes, and even pass by some waterfalls! It is already the second-longest bike path in Rhode Island and once it is completed, it will connect the second and third largest cities in New England: Worcester, Ma and Providence, RI!
Coventry Greenway and Trestle Trail
For another walker/jogger-friendly bike path that provides the best of both worlds, nature and city, check out this 5-mile section of the longer Washington Secondary Bike Path. Naturally, you’ll find most of the trail is relatively flat, though the Trestle Trail section is noted as having the most elevation gain if you’re heading from east to west. Much of your walk will be along the Pawtuxet River. As mentioned, you can always extend your walk too as the Washington Secondary Bike Path is already over 19-miles long.
Best Hikes Near Providence
Whether you have recently moved here or are just visiting, here are some of the most well-loved hikes near Providence, RI.
Roger Williams Park Trails
If you’re looking for a quick getaway for some exercise or a little nature time, Roger Williams Park is a great choice. There are several different trails to choose from, ranging from an easy 1/2-mile to a difficult 3.2-mile loop. Most of the trails run close to or around lakes; some are paved and some are not, but all seem to be well-marked. There are tons of other things to do nearby too, including swan boats, a natural history museum, and the zoo!
10 Mile River Greenway
Located in East Providence, this 3-mile long paved walking and biking path provides a nice getaway while still close to the city. Unlike many of the other paved walking and biking paths in the state, this one wasn’t built on an old railroad corridor and instead follows the flow of the rolling hills. Woods will greet you on one side and the river the other, where you will find occasional spots that lead down to the water as well as interpretive signs if you’re interested in learning more about the flora and fauna in the area. You’ll also pass by Slater Park, which is the largest, and perhaps best, park in Pawtucket, so it’s worth taking a stroll through too!
Hikes Near Newport
Arguably one of America’s most scenic places, there is no shortage of hikes near Newport, RI. Known for its large mansions overlooking the sea, being a hotspot for sailing, and a popular vacation destination, you might want to take a break from all of the action on two of the best Rhode Island hiking trails below.
If you’re looking to explore some of the best sights this popular seaside town has to offer, you can’t beat the Cliff Walk. This 3.5-mile tour takes you past some of the stunning mansions the area is known for as well as right along the rugged coast. Most of the trail is considered easy, but the southern section can prove a bit tricky as you will have to do some rock hopping. You should also be aware of some spots where there are steep drop-offs close to the trail if you will be hiking with younger kids. If you’re not feeling up to doing the entire length, the trail is broken down into sections with several convenient exits.
Located a short 20-minute drive southwest from Newport lies Beavertail State Park. The 2.5-mile Beavertail Loop is rated as easy, making it the perfect hike for anyone looking for some ocean views! You’re also much more likely to find some seclusion compared to the Cliff Walk as well. This trail is not well-marked, but the views of Narragansett Bay, the Point Judith Lighthouse, Rhode Island Sound, and Lions Head Gorge, are well worth the hike!
Best Forest Hikes
While perhaps best-known for all of its bustling coastline activity, there are numerous beautiful forest trails too, offering some of the best hikes in Rhode Island. If you’re looking for some solitude among the firs, check out these two destinations below.
Although the entire Pachaug Trail is 28-miles in length and runs mainly through the Pachaug State Forest in Connecticut, there is a popular section near Exeter, RI for those of you looking for something less time-consuming! This 7.4-mile (out-and-back) area runs near Beach Pond, a gorgeous body of water surrounded by evergreen and fern-filled forest. As the trail takes you north of the pond, you’ll find some sheer rock faces and a few small waterfalls as well.
Tillinghast Pond Loop
If you’re looking for something a little easier, try out the 2.3-mile Tillinghast Pond Loop near West Greenwich, Rhode Island. This easy loop trail travels all the way around the pond, but is friendly for people of all hiking abilities at just 100ft of elevation gain along the way. You’ll travel between pine forests and hayfields and back again with glimpses of the pond en route. Don’t miss the handful of short spur trails to overlooks and especially the observation platform near the bench at Howard’s Rest! There are several other trails in the area if you would like to extend your hike.
Have you done any of the best hikes in Rhode Island? What are your personal favorites in the state?
Read these next:
- 10 of the Best Hikes in Connecticut for an Outdoor Adventure
- The Ultimate Guide to Fall in Rhode Island
- 11 of the Best Hikes in Massachusetts
- 101 Things to Do in New England: The Ultimate New England Bucket List
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Alicia is a freelance writer and nature enthusiast. When she isn’t working or wrangling three young, wild girls, she enjoys exploring new places by camping, hiking, and kayaking.