Best Hikes in RI: Top Trails in the Ocean State

Looking to go hiking in Rhode Island? Our guide to the 12 best hikes in The Ocean State has all the information and guidance you need to make the most of your time there.

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Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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Known for its stunning coastline and rugged woodlands, Rhode Island is an excellent place to plan a New England hiking trip.

In fact, despite being the smallest state in the union, Rhode Island is home to a fantastic array of opportunities for outdoor adventure. That being said, with so many hiking trails available in the Ocean State, selecting the right one for your needs isn’t easy.

To help you out, we’ve created this guide to the 12 best hikes in Rhode Island. Up next, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to ensure that your journey to Rhode Island is as fun as can be.

The Top 12 Hiking Trails in Rhode Island

1. Cliff Walk – Newport, RI

Cliff Walk – Newport, RI
  • Trail type: Point-to-Point
  • Length: 3.5 miles (324ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Access: East end of Bailey’s Beach or the western end of First Beach in Newport

Arguably the most famous nature trail in Rhode Island, the Cliff Walk is one of Newport’s premier recreation opportunities.

This superb day trip starts either at Bailey’s Beach or First Beach, though there are a number of other access points along the way. Regardless of which trailhead you start at, however, the 3.5-mile Cliff Walk offers a chance to see both Newport’s rugged coastline and its historic mansions.

Plus, when you’ve completed your trek along the Cliff Walk, you can easily head into Newport and enjoy an ice cream to cap off a great day of adventure. 

RELATED READING: For more great outdoor adventures check out the best camping in Rhode Island.

2. Ocean View and Flint Point Loop – Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge

Ocean View And Flint Point Loop – Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge
  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 2.7 miles (58ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Access: Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center near Middletown, RI

Perfect for keen birders and adventurous families, the Ocean View and Flint Point Loop nature trails are an ideal outing on a sunny afternoon.

This link-up of Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge’s two trails starts at the refuge’s visitor center. From there, you’ll head to the left and meander down a mellow path until you reach the beautiful Flint Point.

After you take in the oceanside views, you can continue southward to a viewpoint that overlooks Narragansett Bay. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to see some of Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge’s thousands of resident seabirds as you gaze out into the bay. What could be better?

3. Beavertail Trail – Beavertail State Park

Beavertail Trail – Beavertail State Park
  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 2.3 miles (98ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Access: Parking area at the end of Beavertail Road in Beavertail State Park near Jamestown

Jonesing for some seaside vistas, secluded beaches, and historic lighthouses? Then the Beavertail Trail at Beavertail State Park just might be what you need.

Located on Conanicut Island, this fun nature trail gives you the chance to explore Rhode Island’s beaches with relative ease. While this trail system isn’t frequently maintained, you can pick up the dirt trail from the road and follow it around the southern coast of the island.

From here, you can explore the island’s many coves, caves, and rugged beaches or check out the lighthouse from a distance. Do keep in mind, however, that the rocks can be quite slippery in the park, so take caution when scrambling around by the shoreline.

4. Long Pond Woods Trail –  Audubon Long Pond Woods Wildlife Refuge

  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Length: 4.5 miles (469ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Access: Parking area on North Road or parking area on Canonchet Road near Hopkinton, RI

If you’re up for a bit of a workout, the Long Pond Woods Trail is a solid choice. This out-and-back hike starts at either North Road or Canonchet Road and offers a chance to get some spectacular views over scenic Long Pond.

Starting out from the trailhead, this path meanders its way through the forest over undulating terrain. Along the way, you might have to scramble a bit over some rocks, but you’ll eventually come to a fantastic viewpoint as a reward for your efforts.

Plus, this hike takes you through an Audubon Society wildlife refuge, which offers plenty of opportunities for spotting woodland critters, like the ever-elusive barred owl. So, this is a wonderful hike for nature lovers everywhere.

5. Rocky Point Walking Path – Rocky Point State Park, Narragansett Bay

Rocky Point State Park, Narragansett Bay
  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 1.6 miles (88ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Access: Trailheads on Rocky Point Avenue, Palmer Avenue, and Nest Avenue near Warwick, RI

When it comes to casual seaside walks, the Rocky Point Walking Path is hard to beat.

For this hike, you can start at the trailheads on Rocky Point Avenue, Palmer Avenue, or Nest Avenue. However, if you’re looking for an outing that’s accessible for a wheelchair, the Rocky Point Avenue trailhead is your best bet.

Along this fun path, you’ll be treated to magnificent views of Narragansett Bay. As you walk, you’ll also get a chance to see some of the park’s historic buildings. Or, if you’re visiting on a sunny day, you can even follow the path down to the sandy beach and go for a quick dip in the bay.

6. Carr’s Pond & Tarbox Pond Loop – Big River SMA

  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 4.0 miles (269ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Access: Parking area on Hopkins Hill Road near West Greenwich, RI

For folks that want a family-friendly woodland trek, the loop around Carr’s Pond and Tarbox Pond is a great option.

After departing from the parking area on Hopkins Hill Road, this path charts a casual course through the woods. As you hike, you’ll be treated to views of the two ponds, both of which offer great places to sit down and enjoy a picnic.

Additionally, if you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of other little side trails to check out in the Big River SMA. However, most of these trails are unmarked, so be sure to bring a map of the area and a compass if you want to venture off the beaten path.

7. Big Lakes Trail – Roger Williams Park

Big Lakes Trail – Roger Williams Park
  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 3.2 miles (101ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Access: Parking area on Cladrash’s Avenue near Providence

If you need an escape from busy city life, the Big Lakes Trail in Providence’s Roger Williams Park is a fan-favorite that’s sure not to disappoint.

Starting off at the parking area on Cladrash’s Avenue, this path takes you on a mostly flat walk around the park’s many lakes. Here, you’re likely to find everything from herons to egrets and swans, so keep an eye out for wildlife as you stroll.

Furthermore, this well-marked path provides glimpses of some of Providence’s most impressive historic buildings. In particular, you’ll get a chance to see the Dalrymple Boathouse and the Temple to Music, both of which are great examples of the area’s characteristic late-nineteenth-century architecture. 

8. Ben Utter Trail to Stepstone Falls – Arcadia Management Area

Ben Utter Trail To Stepstone Falls – Arcadia Management Area
  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 2.7 miles (131ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Access: Ben Utter Trailhead on Austin Farm Road near Exeter, RI

An ideal choice for a quick morning outing, hiking the Ben Utter Trail to Stepstone Falls is a superb way to enjoy the best that Rhode Island has to offer.

After departing from the trailhead, this hike takes you into a peaceful woodland where wildflowers and berries are abundant in the summer months. Eventually, you’ll make your way toward Falls River and Stepstone Falls, where excellent views await.

Once you’re at the falls, you’ll even be able to have a look around a historic building that once housed a gristmill that ground grains into flour. As you make your way back toward the parking area, it’s also worth making a side trip to the nearby pavilion. Here, you can sit down, relax and have a snack before completing the final leg of your journey.

9. Watchaug Pond Trail – Burlingame State Park

Watchaug Pond Trail – Burlingame State Park
Photo by Madhu Madhavan / CC BY 2.0
  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 11 miles (629ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Moderate to hard
  • Access: Parking area on Buckeye Brook Road near Charlestown, RI

Offering a both a nice way to really stretch your legs and explore some stunning Rhode Island woodlands, the Watchaug Pond Trail in Burlingame State Park is a great outing for more experienced hikers.

For this hike, you’ll begin at a small parking area on Buckeye Brook Road and immediately head into the woods. Along your journey, you’ll pass through an idyllic forest as you make your way toward Watchaug Pond.

Soon enough, you’ll come across a campground that also provides nice access to the pond if you wanted to go for a swim. As an added bonus, this hike also gives you an opportunity to check out some historic covered bridges, which are the perfect place to stop for a breather during your walk.

10. Neutaconkanut Hill Park Loop – Neutaconkanut Park

  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 1.5 miles (232ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Access: Parking area on Killingly Street in Providence

A hidden gem in the heart of the city of Providence, the Neutaconkanut Hill Park Loop is a must-do for all visitors to the Ocean State.

The trailhead for this hike is located just to the southwest of downtown Providence, so it’s a nice escape from the busy city. As soon as you leave the trailhead, this path meanders its way down into the woods, leaving the bustle of urban life behind.

After a short while, you’ll eventually come across a large overlook that provides gorgeous vistas of Providence itself. Then, once you take in the views, you can enjoy the sounds of a small babbling brook along the path as you make your way back to the parking area.

11. Tri-State Loop – Pascoag, RI

  • Trail type: Loop
  • Length: 1.7 miles (150ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Access: Parking area on East Thompson Road near Thompson, CT

Have you ever wanted to stand in three states at once? Well, on the Tri-State Loop, you can!

On this funky hike, you actually start just outside of Rhode Island in the great state of Connecticut. Then, you’ll walk down an old railroad bed as you make your way to the intersection between Rhode Island, Connecticut, and Massachusetts

You’ll eventually come across the granite sign that signifies the tri-point boundary between these three states. Then, after a quick round of photos to mark the event, you can continue walking down the path and into a picturesque woodland to cap off your fun adventure.

12. Clayhead Trail to the Maze – Block Island

Clayhead Trail To The Maze – Block Island
  • Trail type: Out-and-back
  • Length: 3.5 miles (203ft ascent)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Access: Parking area off of Corn Neck Road on Block Island

Short and sweet, yet oh-so-fun, the Clayhead Trail is one of the uber-classic hikes in Rhode Island that you won’t want to miss.

After leaving your vehicle behind at the parking area, this 3.5-mile long path takes you straight down to a sandy beach by the ocean where you can check out the views. From there, you’ll hopefully be able to catch some glimpses of the local wildlife as you make your way toward a series of bluffs.

Beyond the bluffs, you’ll find yourself in an area that the locals like to call “the Maze.” Here, there’s a network of dirt trails that offer endless opportunities for wandering around. So, it’s the perfect place to check out if you’re keen for some solitude in the Ocean State.

Hiking Rhode Island: Endless Adventures Await!

When it comes to hikes, Rhode Island doesn’t disappoint. Whether you’re looking for a stroll along the coastline or a journey into the woods, there are hikes in Rhode Island to suit every adventurer.

We hope you enjoyed our guide to the best trails in the Ocean State. If you had a chance to check out any of these trails during your last visit to Rhode Island, let us know in the comments below! Oh, and feel free to share this article with your friends and family to help them plan their trip to Rhode Island, too.

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Gaby Avatar

Gaby is a professional polar guide, wilderness medicine instructor, and freelance writer with a master’s degree in outdoor education. She splits her time between the northern and southern hemispheres, chasing the midnight sun and helping others get outside to experience some of the world’s most beautiful places.

As an outdoor educator, Gaby is passionate about making the outdoors as accessible as possible for anyone looking to get into the mountains or out on the water. She is a certified Polar Guide, an AMGA Climbing Wall Instructor Course Provider, a NOLS instructor, and an accomplished climbing guide with a penchant for telemark skiing.

When she’s not hanging out with penguins in Antarctica or scouting for polar bears in the Arctic, you can find Gaby backpacking in Wyoming’s Wind River Range or drinking debatably excessive amounts of espresso and reading French existentialism in a quirky café.

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