Rhode Island Hiking Trails

12 of the Best Rhode Island Hiking Trails

Though Rhode Island is the smallest state in the union, its unexpectedly varied range of natural landscapes makes it a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts. Rhode Island is nestled in the heart of New England.

Rhode Island hiking trails offer a range of picturesque paths that are suitable for walkers of all ability levels, from the tranquil shores of Narragansett Bay to the lush, verdant forests of its inland sections.

We’ll go over 12 of the best Rhode Island hiking trails in this guide; each one has its special charm and adventure. For those who enjoy the outdoors and the great outdoors, these trails—which range from the well-known Cliff Walk in Newport to the less well-known routes that meander across the state’s rural landscapes—promise exceptional experiences.

Put on your hiking boots, gather your sense of adventure, and get ready to explore the best Rhode Island hiking trails.

1. Rhode Island Hiking Trails: Blackstone River Bikeway

Blackstone River Bikeway
Blackstone River Bikeway is one of the easiest hiking trail in this Rhode Island hiking trails list.

You simply must check out the Blackstone River Bikeway on your next visit to Rhode Island. This paved bike path stretches 10.5 miles from the Massachusetts border down to Narragansett Bay.

It’s perfect for a sunny day stroll or bike ride, taking you past historic mills and over arched bridges. The difficulty level is beginner, so it’s great for the whole family.

As you meander along, keep your eyes peeled for herons, turtles sunning themselves on logs, and even the occasional beaver.

Scenery and Attractions

Some of the highlights along the Blackstone River Bikeway include the photogenic ruins of old textile mills and the charming village of Ashton.

Make sure to stop at Blackstone River State Park midway through your ride and take the short path down to the river. The tranquility will make you forget you’re less than 20 minutes from Providence!

Difficulty and Length

At just over 10 miles long, this rail trail offers options for various length outings depending on your plans. Travel its entire length from north to south or just walk a portion like the 1.4 miles from Valley Falls to Central Falls for a shorter urban stroll. The paved, flat terrain also makes it very wheelchair and stroller-friendly.


2. Rhode Island Hiking Trails: Cliff Walk

Cliff Walk

For jaw-dropping ocean views, you can’t miss the famous Cliff Walk in Newport. This 3.5-mile public access walkway hugs the cliffs along super-ritzy beachfront mansions. Don’t be intimidated though – with its easy difficulty level, it’s the perfect casual stroll to take in those sea breezes.

Scenery and Attractions

The real stars of Cliff Walk are those opulent Gilded Age summer “cottages” you’ll pass along the way.

Marvel at the over-the-top architecture and imagine throwing one of the wild parties that were held here back in the day. Keep an eye out for Vanderbilt’s grand marble mansion – The Breakers – for the most impressive example.

3. Rhode Island Hiking Trails: Block Island Trails

Block Island Trail

If you truly want to escape into nature, look no further than Block Island. This tiny island accessible only by ferry boasts over 30 miles of hiking trails through meadows, woods, and misty moors that will transport you straight to rural England.

Difficulty and Length

The hiking trails range from easy nature walks less than a mile long to more strenuous treks of up to six miles over steep hills.

Choose your adventure based on your energy level and time constraints. But with views like these, there’s no bad option!

When to Visit

Late spring when vines and bushes are heavy with blossoms is an exceptionally scenic time for Block Island hikes.

The temperate weather also makes for comfortable, bug-free walking. Encounter fewer crowds and save money with discounted spring hotel and ferry deals too!


4. Rhode Island Hiking Trails: Lincoln Woods Trail

Lincoln Woods Trails

Conveniently located just 15 minutes outside Providence, Lincoln Woods is a great quick-nature fix when you need to stretch your legs.

The flat 2.4-mile trail follows the eastern bank of the Blackstone River through peaceful pine forests.

When to Visit

Spring is when Lincoln Woods sparkles, with wildflowers blossoming along the path and leaves unfurling in shimmering greens. The air smells like earth and new beginnings.

See if you can spot the remnants of old stone walls peeking through the undergrowth – hints of the farmland this once was.

Scenery and Attractions

Keep your eyes peeled for the remnants of old mill buildings and canals dotted alongside the river. 1940s pumphouse foundations and crumbling brick smokestacks hearken back to the area’s industrial past. The trail also boasts one of the prettiest picnic areas in the state, so bring lunch!

5. Rhode Island Hiking Trails: Audubon Trail

Audubon Trail

Birdwatchers will flock to the Audubon Trail at Fisherville Brook Wildlife Refuge, seeking a glimpse of herons, egrets, swallows, and woodpeckers.

These 585 acres encompass grassy meadows, babbling brooks, and ponds surrounded by woodland – the perfect peaceful habitat for our feathered friends.

Difficulty and Length

At just 1.4 miles, this easy loop trail can be completed in under an hour. Bring your binoculars and tread quietly to increase your chance of spying a perched bald eagle or wading egret fishing at the water’s edge.

When to Visit

Spring migration from April to May is when you’ll spot the greatest variety of birds stopping to feed and rest here.

Bring a guidebook and binoculars or zoom lens to help identify all the vibrant warblers fluttering through branches overhead! Their bright breeding feathers make them a colorful sight.

6. Rhode Island Hiking Trails: Snake Den State Park

Snake Den State Park

For a unique landscape, head to Snake Den State Park in Johnston. It’s only 70 acres but packs a lot into a small space: otherworldly rock formations left from ancient volcanic eruptions, abrupt canyon walls slicing through hillsides, and even a secret cave to discover!

Difficulty and Length

A few different interconnected trails totaling 2 miles wind through Snake Den, ranging from easy to moderately strenuous. Give yourself at least an hour to explore all the park’s nooks and crannies.

Scenery and Attractions

Be sure to venture off the main trail to explore the maze of crevices and passageways naturally carved into the bedrock.

Use caution scrambling over boulders but visiting these geologic wonders is a highlight. Peer inside the Bat Cave but note that entry is prohibited during breeding seasons to protect the resident species.


7. Rhode Island Hiking Trails: Fort Adams State Park

Fort Adams State Park

History buffs will appreciate the sprawling Fort Adams State Park on Newport’s shoreline. Not only does this National Historic Landmark offer panoramic harbor views, you can freely wander the grounds of an immense 19th-century fortress!

Scenery and Attractions

The fort itself is a star attraction, with imposing stone walls, arches, tunnels, and ramparts to scale. A few old cannon barrels still stand guard. But the real showstopper is Newport’s dazzling skyline across the bay. Perch along the rocky outcroppings for a front-row seat.

When to Visit

Try to time your visit to Fort Adams around sunset when the views of Newport Bridge and the harbor are bathed in golden light.

Pack a picnic dinner to enjoy on the grassy parade grounds after exploring. Then stay for a ghost tour or concert at the fort after dark – you’ll never forget the experience!

8. Rhode Island Hiking Trails: Weekapaug Trail

Weekapaug Trail

Salt marshes have their subtle beauty, especially when observed from Weekapaug Trail’s elevated boardwalk path.

These coastal wetlands in Westerly provide vital habitat for myriad birds and marine life. Keep your eyes peeled for great egrets silently stalking through the grasses or a flapper skate drifting in the shallows beneath you.

Difficulty and Length

At a mile round trip over mostly flat terrain, Weekapaug Trail’s difficulty level falls somewhere between easy and moderate, making it great for families.

Allow 1-2 hours to fully take in the sights and sounds of this estuary ecosystem.

Scenery and Attractions

The observation decks along Weekapaug Trail allow you to gaze deeper into the salt marsh and watch natural processes at work.

Scan for tiny snails inching up marsh grass stems during high tide or a carpet of seed shrimp swarming the muddy flats when waters recede. It’s nature’s fascinating rhythm.

9. Rhode Island Hiking Trails: Cormorant Point Trail

Cormorant Point Trail

For a peaceful, secluded hike on Block Island, make your way to Cormorant Point Trail in the northwestern corner.

Park at the small lot on Corn Neck Road and venture into Rodman’s Hollow, a wildlife refuge and wetland area. An easy 1-mile trail loops through grassy dunes peppered with wildflowers and past a brackish pond often dotted with ducks.

Difficulty and Length

At just 1 mile, Cormorant Point Trail is considered easy with mostly flat terrain. You’ll want to allow about an hour though to soak in the sanctuary-like ambiance.

Let tensions melt away listening to birdsong and waves lapping in the distance as you befriend solitude.

Scenery and Attractions

As you meander through this tucked-away landscape, listen for the raucous squawking of cormorants gathering in the nearby salt pond.

These gangly, almost prehistoric-looking birds thrive in this habitat. Sit awhile atop the hill at the end of the trail simply soaking in the panoramic view sweeping from ocean to horizon.

10. Rhode Island Hiking Trails: Black Regiment Loop

Black Regiment Loop Trail in Lincoln Woods State Park

The 1.4-mile Black Regiment Loop Trail in Lincoln Woods State Park celebrates the historic First Rhode Island Regiment formed in 1778 that fought courageously in numerous Revolutionary War battles. Interpretive plaques along the path tell this inspiring story.

Difficulty and Length

With an easy terrain winding through open forest and meadows, it’s an enjoyable walk for all fitness levels that takes about an hour.

Pay your respects at the monument honoring these brave African American soldiers at trail’s end.

11. Rhode Island Hiking Trails: Whale Rock Trail

Whale Rock Trail

For gorgeous ocean vistas, Whale Rock Trail is a must-do during your Block Island vacation. Located in the southeast corner, this moderate 1.5-mile out-and-back trail climbs through shady oak forest up to – you guessed it – Whale Rock.

Legend has it a whale once washed up on shore and its bones fertilized the soil, enabling vegetation to thrive here.

When to Visit

For both stunning scenery and a fun local tradition, hike up to Whale Rock to catch the sunset during summer. Join islanders cheering on this nightly spectacle while being serenaded by crickets.

Then linger awhile to stargaze at the Milky Way shining brightly thanks to Block Island’s low light pollution.

Scenery and Attractions

Once you reach the steep rocky perch, the sweeping view of Old Harbor and the North Lighthouse is stunning. Sit a spell taking in the scenery and snacking on the blueberries proliferating in the nutrient-rich soil before heading back down.

12. Rhode Island Hiking Trails: Purgatory Chasm

Purgatory Chasm

Searching for a truly unique landscape near Newport? Look no further than Purgatory Chasm – an otherwordly rock gorge cut deep into the hillside with jagged walls towering as high as 70 feet.

Scrambling over boulders and around narrow passages here makes you feel like Indiana Jones exploring a lost world!

When to Visit

Purgatory Chasm is cool and less crowded during the off-season, making fall an optimal viewing time.

The autumn foliage sets the colorful walls of the chasm ablaze in bold crimsons and golds too. Just be prepared for some slippery scrambling across damp boulders!

Difficulty and Length

The main trail is a moderate mile loop, featuring steep stone steps and precipitous ledges linking the Lower Chasm to the Upper Chasm.

Give yourself 1-2 hours to navigate the terrain and marvel at the dramatic geology. Just beware the ghost rumored to haunt Purgatory Chasm’s depths!


End of trail

Despite being the smallest state, Rhode Island has an extraordinarily varied terrain that is just begging to be discovered on foot.

You’re likely to find an incredible route to suit your interests, whether you’re looking for historical landmarks, distinctive geologic formations, or vistas of the ocean. But be careful—after you hike one, you’ll want to find them all!

Thus, begin planning your next journey in Little Rhody’s expansive backyard right now. The road to happiness is ahead.


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