While Rhode Island might be small in stature, it’s a giant in hiking terms! Although it might be a tiny “Ocean State,” Rhode Island offers an abundance of spectacular coastlines, serene ponds, dense forests, incredible wildlife, and elegant East Coast mansions dotted along the way.
Hiking in Rhode Island is less strenuous than in other regions due to the area’s lack of elevation. Highly recommended trails include the Cliff Walk, Clay Head, Sachuest Point, Jerimoth Hill, Beavertail, Weeetamoo Woods, Watchaug Pond, and the Neutaconkanut Hill trails.
There are so many spectacular Rhode Island hikes ranging from invigorating coastline trails to hidden inner-city gems. So, let’s explore your hiking options on this magical island.
What’s It Like To Hike In Rhode Island?
Rhode Island is a perfect hiking destination for those who prefer leisurely coastal walks as the trails are predominantly flat, with a mere 812 feet peak elevation. They are well suited to novice hikers, families with little children, and four-legged friends.
The island’s trails are far less strenuous in comparison with other mountainous trials in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, or Connecticut.
While Rhode Island may not be able to provide snow-capped alpine peaks, few other hiking destinations can offer spectacular coastal views or post-hike seafood culinary delights.
Another fantastic advantage to enjoying New England summer hikes is swimming in the ocean. However, it would be wise to safely wear a sturdy pair of water shoes to navigate the craggy coastline.
12 Of The Best Hiking Trails In Rhode Island
The Cliff Walk: Newport Rhode Island Hike
If you ask any local for hiking suggestions, they would probably suggest the Cliff Walk, which meanders around the ocean close to Newport.
The Cliff Walk, which is approximately 7 miles long, is truly exceptional as it caters to all kinds of hikers with its paved and rugged trail pathways. Even if you only have time for a section of the trail – go for it!
The trail showcases the magnificent oceanic waves splashing against the cliffs below the path towards the left and stately East Coast mansions towards the right with intriguing histories cloaked in mystery.
These majestic and supremely elegant buildings are used as museums, private homes, schools, or charming B&Bs with breathtakingly beautiful oceanic vistas. Their visual appeal is part of the trial’s true magic.
The paved trail eventually becomes craggy, which adds to a sense of fun and adventure exploring this sublime region.
Clay Head Trail: On Block Island
The much loved 3.5-mile Clay Head Trail, with a highly distinct seaside landscape, is situated in the picturesque hilly Block Island.
This short but sweet trail starts at the Corn Neck Road and ends at the magnificent northeasterly coastline.
The trail offers amazing views of the rugged oceanic shoreline, including access to the island’s historical North Lighthouse. It’s a great destination if you want to escape from the bustling crowds!
This root sets itself apart from other trails in the region with its spectacular sandy bluffs, rugged terrains, bountiful spring wildflowers, varied birds species, and peaceful rolling hills.
The Clay Head Trail is a perfect spot for leisurely picnics with incredible views or to grab your binoculars to explore the small island’s diverse bird species.
Alternatively, join the island’s Glass Float Project scavenger hunt for a bit of fun. There are numerous glass spheres hidden all over the island, which you may keep as a souvenir if you find one. So, happy hunting!
Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge Trail: Newport
It is hand-on-heart one of the best Rhode Island hikes in the midsts of the Sanchuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Newport!
While the 2.4-mile hike offers spectacular views of the magnificent coastline, its wildlife is something to behold. There are numerous deer, coyotes, and aquatic bird species dotted around the trail, making it a bird lover’s paradise.
But the greatest part of this hike is its side paths that lead to uninhabited beaches where you can enjoy a moment of peaceful bliss and contemplation – surrounded by the bounty of nature.
Jerimoth Hill Trail: In Foster
Jerimoth Hill, situated in Foster, is Rhode Island’s most elevated landmark, although you will probably feel exhausted after completing this short, 3-mile hike.
While climbing the rather sedate hill might not feel like a monumental feat, you could end up joining the “Highpointers Club” that aspires to climb the most elevated areas in 50 states. So, if you hike up Jerimoth Hill – there’s a great chance you could join them!
Weetamoo Woods Hiking Trail: Tiverton
If you want a dramatic change of scenery, consider exploring the enchanting 4.7-mile Weeetamoo Woods Trail that meanders through a conserved woodland.
The trail is surrounded by spectacular woodland greenery and animals, dilapidated old cellars, and mills of historic value – including an adorable little pony!
While this trail is mostly flat as it sedately weaves through the forest, it does have strenuous hilly and muddy terrains, including little streams that require sturdy water-resistant hiking boots.
Then reward yourself with a delicious post-hike treat at Gray’s Ice Cream, which is just around the corner from the trailhead, or follow the adjacent Fort Barton trail to make a day of it.
Watchaug Pond & Kimball Wildlife Refuge Trails: Charlestown
The 11 miles Watchaug Pond hiking Trail, situated in Charlestown’s Burlingame State Park, is a sedate looping route around the Watchaug Pond that links with the Kimball Wildlife Refuge.
This leisurely trail is perfectly suited to families as it provides gorgeous views of the tranquil pond, including diverse scenery, as it meanders through paved areas and lovely woodlands.
The Kimball Wildlife Refuge hiking trail, a mere 2.6-mile return trip, is a bird lover’s dream as it homes several bird species and tiny wildlife creatures.
If you want to make a day of it – combine the Watchaugh Pond and the Kimbal Wildlife Refuge trails, which will equate to a 10-mile return trip in the great outdoors.
Beavertail Hiking Trail: Beavertail State Park
Beavertail State Park is situated in the breathtakingly beautiful Narragansett Bay in Jamestown.
The iconic Beavertail Hiking Trail is a local favorite as it’s a leisurely 2.3-mile trail that meanders along the bay’s shoreline with spectacular ocean waves. The trail then circles back through a little forest with incredible views along the way.
There are also numerous benches dotted along the shoreline to enjoy the invigorating oceanic views, which are simply stunning – even on cloudy days.
Narragansett Bay is renowned for its gorgeous turquoise hues, especially on clear, sun-drenched days, in stark contrast with the standard gray-green colors of Atlantic oceans.
It’s the perfect place to immerse your senses in the profound beauty of nature while listening to the crashing waves!
The Carr’s Pond & Tarbox Pond Hiking Trails: West Greenwich
This easy 4-mile circular trail meanders around the serene Carr’s Pond to Tailbox Pond through stately forests.
You would be wise to wear waterproof hiking boots as the trail sometimes becomes a little muddy, and there are protruding roots close to the various ponds.
It is an ideal destination if you are looking for a place to commune with nature in a tranquil setting and away from the maddening crowds.
Neutaconkanut Hill Park Loop Hiking Trail: Providence
The 1.7-mile Neutaconkanut Hill Park Loop trail is a hidden secluded gem in the inner-city heart of Providence – it’s the perfect escape from all the hustle and bustle!
This leisurely trail weaves through peaceful forests. At times, it is hard to believe that such a peaceful sanctuary exists because it’s tucked away in an urban setting.
So, next time you plan to visit Providence, pack your hiking boots to enjoy this amazing trail.
The Long Pond Woods Hiking Trail: Hope Valley
If you are looking for a moderately challenging hike with exceptional views – look no further!
While the Long Pond Woods Trail is a mere 4.2 miles hike, it demands some climbing skills and sturdy hiking boots to maintain your balance along the route.
However, you will be well rewarded once you reach the top with spectacular views of the Long Pond below.
Alternatively, explore the eastern Ashville Pond trail, situated at the main trailhead where the Long Pond Trail begins. Either way, you will love the gorgeous meandering trails in the very heart of nature.
Rocky Point Walking Trail: Warwick
The Rocky Point Walking Trail offers a short but sweet 1.6-mile fun excursion with sublime views of Narragansett Bay.
The trail is based in a former amusement park, and there are numerous interesting signboards dotted along the way about the Rocky Point Amusement Park’s rich history.
While the Rocky Point Walking Trail’s paved footpath is easy to navigate, should you need a more strenuous hike, veer off the beaten path to explore the park’s old amusement rides.
Meshanticut State Park Loop: Cranston
The 8-mile Meshanticut State Park Loop trail, based in Cranston, offers a gentle stroll in the heart of the city that is both wheelchair and stroller friendly and a great way to get some fresh air in an “urban jungle.”
It offers exceptional views of the central lake and the little state park, which links with adjacent neighborhoods.
Before you set off, download the Meshanticut State Park Loop map, as signposts are sometimes illegible, and it’s not always possible to access strong Wi-Fi connections along the way.
Most importantly, wear bright orange clothing, especially during fall, as New England often attracts hunters during that time, and it will improve your visibility as you explore the park.
Essential Rhode Island Hiking Kit
While hiking in Rhode Island is an absolute pleasure due to its breathtaking views and low elevation, it’s imperative to have the right hiking kit on hand, especially in an emergency. So, let’s have a look at the non-negotiable items you will need.
Durable Hiking Boots
Wearing ill-suited footwear is a recipe for disaster that will either culminate in painful blisters or, at worst, a twisted ankle.
Therefore, invest in quality water-resistant ankle boots with comfortably padded insoles.
Weather Appropriate Hiking Clothing
Sweat-wicking hiking clothes like tank tops, shirts, and pants are a must for strenuous climbs on a hot summer’s day.
For wintery cold hikes, wear layers of clothing that you can simply peel off, like a thermal shirt, a puffer jacket, followed by a lightweight, water-resistant coat and thermal socks.
Trusty Trekking Poles
While most Rhode Island hiking trails don’t require trekking poles keep a lightweight foldable pair in your car or backpack as certain pond trails are incredibly muddy and difficult to explore without a little added support.
Insulated Water Bottles & Tasty Snacks
Thermo-insulated water bottles are a must, especially during the height of summer, as it retains cold much better in comparison with polluting plastics which will inevitably end up on a landfill.
Pack a few nutritious snacks like breakfast bars or nuts that are easy to consume when you’re on the move, including an environmentally friendly paper waste disposal bag.
Bug Spray & Sunscreen
Most avid hikers can attest to the fact that Mozzy bites and sunburn should be avoided at all costs. So, invest in a good quality DEET insect repellant and a sweat-resistant sunscreen with a high SPF rating.
There’s nothing worse than ending up with a flame-red face after a great day in the outdoors. So, use a wide-brimmed hat or a protective hiking cap on all your spring or summertime hikes.
First Aid Kits & Emergency Blankets
You never know when calamity will strike, even in the comfort of your own home. So, take a small first aid kit and an emergency blanket with you on your next hike. Who knows, you might save a life!
A Water-Resistant Day Pack
There’s a great chance that you might encounter rainy conditions on most Rhode Island hikes, so keep your hiking kit dry with a durable, water-resistant, and breathable day pack that will safeguard all your essential hiking gear, including those handy biodegradable wipes.
Hiking on Rhode Island with its breathtakingly beautiful coastal shorelines and incredible wildlife is a deeply fulfilling experience. So, strap on those hiking boots to immerse your senses in the bountiful splendor of Mother Nature!