Eight Hiking Trails to Explore in Rhode Island
Pack a water bottle from a local purveyor and hit the trails at these eight favorite spots for hiking in Rhode Island.
First erected in 1883, this granite column marks the spot where Rhode Island meets its neighbors. Though more easily accessed from trailheads in Massachusetts or Connecticut, a Rhode Island route will take you on a scenic detour through Buck Hill Management Area, which in the summer is flush with blueberry bushes and the sound of boats from nearby Wallum Lake. Follow the Benson Mountain, Border and Buck Hill trails for a 5.6-mile loop that passes Buck Hill Pond.
Where to Park: Buck Hill Management Area, Burrillville
Best known as a prime
viewing spot for seals that visit Narragansett Bay on their winter migrations, the John H. Chafee Nature Preserve at Rome Point makes for a relaxing hike in any season. Follow the Rome Point Trail to the rock-strewn beach and return by one of the many wooded paths for a 2.4-mile loop featuring seaside marshes and coastal views.
Where to Park: Boston Neck Road (Route 1A), North Kingstown
Move over, Appalachian Trail. Rhode Island has its own thru-hiker’s paradise, a seventy-eight-mile route showcasing the best of the state’s varied terrain on its journey from the Midstate Trail in Massachusetts to East Beach in Charlestown. The full trek takes five days on average, but newbies can access the North-South Trail for shorter adventures at various points, including Pulaski State Park in Glocester and Arcadia Management Area.
Where to Park: Wallum
Lake, Douglas, Massachusetts (north trailhead) or East Beach, Charlestown (south trailhead)
The Wood River pauses in West Greenwich on its way from Connecticut to join the Pawcatuck River further south to form a series of charming waterfalls that will have you conjuring up images of picnics and lazy afternoon naps. Park near the falls and follow the Ben Utter Trail 1.5 miles downriver for an easy, out-and-back hike in Arcadia Management Area.
Where to Park: Falls River Road, West Greenwich
This Foster Land Trust property comprises 155 acres along the Ponaganset River corridor, with features including a pond and glacial moraine. Kids and adults alike will enjoy looping the pond on the Potluck Trail or searching for the elusive “troll cave” as they navigate the rock formations on the 1.5-mile Boulder Field Trail.
Where to Park: Old Danielson Pike, Foster
Long and Ell Ponds
For the mountain climber, the Long and Ell Pond Trail offers a taste of elevation as you climb the cliffs overlooking Long Pond and plunge into the marshy valleys between. Park at either the North Road or Canonchet Road trailhead and follow the trail to the other side for a two-mile, out-and-back hike through preserved woodland.
Where to Park: North Road or Canonchet Road, Hopkinton
Clay Head Trail
Who says you have to stick to the beach during a visit to Block Island? Located about three miles up the road from the ferry dock (seventeen minutes by bike), the Clay Head Preserve offers views of the Atlantic Ocean from atop the clay bluffs on the island’s east side. A mile-and-a-half walk will get you to the maze off Corn Neck Road, where you can explore the unmarked paths or continue another 1.2 miles along road and beach routes to the North Lighthouse.
Where to Park: Clay Head Trail, New Shoreham
CONQUERING JERIMOTH HILL
At 812 feet in height, Jerimoth Hill is not exactly the Everest of local treks. Nevertheless, Rhode Islanders and visitors alike flock to this short path in Foster, where they take pride in standing atop the state’s highest point. For many years, this woodsy outcropping near the Connecticut border was notoriously inaccessible due to a neighboring landowner who didn’t appreciate visitors traipsing the privately owned trail to the summit. In 2008, the state purchased the access trail, and in 2014, the high point itself was acquired from Brown University, whose astronomy staff previously used its dark skies for stargazing. Today, visitors can park at the trailhead on Old Hartford Pike and follow a brief, 0.3-mile trail to the official high point. Be sure to check out the logbook maintained by the Highpointers Foundation, an organization that promotes climbing to the highest point in every state (many of the entries detail grueling, days-long journeys comparable to summiting Alaska’s Denali). And no, the Central Landfill in Johnston does not claim the title of state’s highest peak, though at 560 feet above sea level, it’s certainly not a mountain to mess with.
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Vasque St. Elias FG GTX hiking boots, $200, URE Outfitters, Hope Valley, ureoutfitters.com. Sand Cloud Earth Towel, $44, Island Surf and Sport, Middletown, islandsports.com. Seiko Luxe SPB239 diver’s watch, $1,200, MRT Jewelers, East Providence, mrtjewelers.com. Weekend Walks in Rhode Island, $19.95, Books on the Square, Providence, booksq.com. Osprey Daylite Kid’s pack, $37.50, URE Outfitters. Great Swamp Press Arcadia Wildlife Management Area map, $12.95, URE Outfitters. Smith Eastbank sunglasses, $179, Island Surf and Sport. Beautiful Day granola bars, $15 for a six-pack, Beautiful Day, beautifuldayri.org. IMSY Swimwear Margo top, $59.99, Island Surf and Sport. Paleonola Vanilla Bean granola, $9.49, Paleonola, paleonola.com. Brunton Tag-Along 9041 Glow Compass, $9.99, URE Outfitters. Sun Bum SPF 15 Hand Cream, $12.99, Island Surf and Sport.