Best Easy Day Hikes Rhode Island  by Steve Mirsky

Best Easy Day Hikes: Rhode Island Guide Book

by Steve Mirsky (Falcon Guides)
Best Easy Day Hikes Rhode Island  by Steve Mirsky
Best Easy Day Hikes Rhode Island includes concise descriptions and detailed maps for 20 of the most scenic, geologically diverse, and easy-to-follow hikes less than an hour's drive from Providence. Rhode Island may be America's smallest state, but its terrain represents a microcosm of all that southern New England's outdoors has to offer. Beach comb for a bit, enjoy lakeside vistas from beneath a canopy of cedars, or do some ridge-walking for panoramic views.

© 2010 Steve Mirsky/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Best Easy Day Hikes: Rhode Island" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 20.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 20.

Scenic views on this route really come into prominence as soon as you head east on Hemlock Road and pass some extensive red pine groves. Midway into the hike, you’ll be treated to some full reservoir views, and then get to explore a massive stone spillway. Complete the loop by walking along a country lane past a historic cemetery and a farmstead, then heading back out to Central Pike. From the parking areas, continue walking up alongside the Central Pike to the west. At your first left, turn south onto Kate Randall Road, which quickly transitions to dirt. A red pine grove to the left (east) separates you from the reservoir in the distance. A brook crosses underneath the trail through a stone sluice at 0.3 mile. You’ll be traveling through mostly deciduous forest, with some pines mixed in with oak, swamp maple, and hickory.
Providence , RI - Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 4.3
Another route within Rhode Island’s 14,000-acre Arcadia Management Area, the Ben Utter Trail passes close by Wood River up to Stepstone Falls, passing mill ruins and massive quarried stones. The return leg passes high above the river through mixed forest. The yellow-blazed trail begins at the parking turnout, paralleling the Wood River close to your right (east) after crossing a wooden bridge. Pine trees tower over the trail, mostly to your right and on the river’s opposite shore, while deciduous trees populate the woods to your left. Continue on a flat grade. Even though the trail is well marked, it can be confusing since you’ll see both blue and yellow blazes next to each other. Cross a wooden footbridge over a small wooded swamp close to the river’s edge at 0.1 mile.
Hope Valley, RI - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.6
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Even though it’s a short walk, this route is the only one in Rhode Island, within the entire Blackstone Valley, that puts you high above the river gorge with sweeping views of the tumultuous waters coursing through a near vertical stone canyon.
Woonsocket, RI - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 0.8
Another route within the vast Arcadia Management Area, the Breakheart Trail passes through extensive forest, wide open fields, and marsh. You’ll also skirt around the remnants of an abandoned youth camp now reduced to mostly stone foundations. Toward the end of the route, you’ll pass under the Breakheart Pond spillway, a popular fishing access point. Please note there are several other trail users such as cross-country skiers, snowshoers, ATV users, and anglers.
Hope Valley, RI - Cross-Country Skiing,Fishing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.5
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This route passes through a vast expanse of deciduous woodland, large meadows, and wide swathes of clear-cut forest. Some fields contain crops like corn and grasses to attract wildlife. If you want to get away from it all and possibly not see another human for hours, this is your destination. The trail begins behind a brown metal gate that’s readily apparent at the far end of the lot. Continue on a flat dirt road through a field and to your right (east) you’ll see a brown signboard affixed with a trail map. The road curves off to the right through deciduous forest. Cross through a pine grove and turn right (northeast) at an intersection at about 0.2 mile. Here you’ll see what appears to be a square foundation sunken into the ground to your right.
Pascoag, RI - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3.5
This route passes through thick pine groves both at the beginning and middle of the hike, while much of the remainder passes through low-lying wooded swamp and around vernal pools surrounded by beech and swamp maple. Halfway in you’ll pass through a canoe camp, where you can take a side trail to explore the Pawcatuck River before cutting back into the woods.
Westerly, RI - Fishing,Hiking - Trail Length: 4
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This hike passes through impressive pine groves, wooded marsh, and several wide open and extensive fields. You’ll skirt a diverse mix of landscapes but one consistent feature throughout is human usage, readily apparent via tire tracks on many trail beds, abandoned sandpits, and remnants of agricultural lands marked with stone walls fringing large swaths of meadow. Walk down the dirt road from the first parking lot, surrounded by red pine groves, through a second parking lot with a boat launch. Continue following the sandy pond shore with water views immediately to your right (west) until you reach what was once a beach area and small parking area marked with a metal guardrail. Now it’s closed off to swimming and the sand parking lot is overgrown with weeds.
Plainfield , CT - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.9
This route passes through open meadows, dense pine forest, and past two historic cemeteries. The majority of the first half of this route is immersed in a wide open overgrown meadow where, in some spots, corn and rye grass are planted to attract wildlife. From the small sand and gravel parking area, you will see a modest historic cemetery in a field to your right (west) as you’re facing away from the road. Pass around a red metal gate, walking a short distance on a dirt road into a field, where you’ll see the check-in station, a concrete-block building painted red. A brown signboard with a small trail map attached is to your right. Turn left (south) onto a gravel access road that begins in a meadow and continues into the woods.
Hope Valley, RI - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 3.1
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This route passes through extensive pine forest, wide open fields, marshland, and around a pond. The sand parking lot is high on a hill overlooking a marsh and a pond off to the left (southeast). To reach the trailhead, walk back out of the parking lot entrance and turn left (southwest) onto Route 94, walking down a hill. Just before utility pole 33½ at 0.1 mile, you will find the unmarked and narrow trailhead to your right (north), leading from the roadside after a set of metal guardrails. The trail is barely visible through a dense pine grove, but upon further inspection and once you progress inward, you’ll notice that even though crowded in with saplings, this wide footpath parallels a large and imposing rock wall towering above the forest floor to your right (north). Some large portions of this cliff have tumbled down due to erosion.
Pascoag, RI - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.3
This route passes through an Audubon Society nature preserve containing some interesting historic relics and unique natural features. Highlights include stone cairns, a wooded lane from the American Revolution, perfectly formed stone foundations, and striking rock outcroppings. The trail begins alongside a map board to your right. Begin on the Orange Trail at the head of the parking lot, going north. You’ll quickly reach a T intersection with a signpost indicating that the Audubon Nature Center is to your left (west) and all other trails are to your right (north and east). Turn right, continuing down a footpath through cedar mixed with pine that becomes mostly deciduous swamp maple, birch, and undergrowth. The trail is well marked and you’ll parallel a stone wall to the right before curving away from it and continuing to wind down through the woods. Follow a signpost pointing to all trails and climb down some wooden steps, passing through wooded swamp. At about 0.2 miles you’ll begin crossing a series of wooden planks over this terrain.
Plainfield , CT - Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.3
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One of the largest preserved marshlands in Rhode Island, this hike takes you into the heart of all the bird-watching action. From ospreys to warblers, numerous waterfowl, and beaver are just some of the species that call these lands home. The trail begins behind a brown metal gate, heading down a flat and sandy access road. Pass a signboard with map, then walk through a mixed deciduous woodland of mostly swamp maple. The roadbed is the only elevation separating you from wooded swamp on either side, with a trail surface of pressed stone dust and gravel giving it the texture of asphalt. Soon you’ll have views alternating between wide open marsh and low-lying brush. A drainage pipe runs underneath the roadbed at about 0.3 mile, connecting wide open marsh that you’ll now see on both sides of the trail.
West Kingston, RI - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Mountain Biking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4.3
This hike takes you out to Rome Point, the most reliable spot on Narragansett Bay for viewing seals between October and May. Terrain on the first leg of this route is a flat pebbled access road straight out to the beach. Then, after some beach walking, you’ll head out to the point through a cedar grove with water views on either side. The return route passes through a wooded marsh past remains of an old farmstead ripe for exploration.
North Kingstown, RI - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking - Trail Length: 2.4
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This hike up and over Mount Tom, in the vast Arcadia Management Area, features a wide variety of hiking conditions and scenery. You’ll pass under towering red pines, cross swift-moving trout streams, and pause atop rocky cliffs with long panoramic views. As soon as you enter the trailhead parking lot, down a short dirt road, you’ll see a rusted Quonset hut to your left (east) and a toilet facility straight ahead. A white paint square on a pine tree marks the trailhead, at the far right-hand side of the lot as you’re standing with the hut to your left. The trail begins on flat sandy terrain surrounded by towering red pine. This initial stretch, over a grassy area, is well marked with white blazes.
Hope Valley, RI - Cross-Country Skiing,Fishing,Hiking,Mountain Biking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 5.2
One of the largest coastal access points in Rhode Island, the beachfront on the outgoing segment of this loop is wide open and well preserved, with miles of dunes backing soft sand and wide open ocean. If you come during summer be sure to bring your bathing suit so you can cool off and relax awhile. Begin by walking from your car down Bay Street in Watch Hill, overlooking the harbor directly to your right (north) in the cove. As you’re looking out into the harbor, off to the left (west), across the water in the distance, you’ll see sand and dune grass. This is Napatree Point, and the most straightforward approach to the preserve’s entrance is tofollow the concrete sidewalk paralleling the water.
Westerly, RI - Fishing,Hiking - Trail Length: 3.5
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Newport’s most historic walk passes behind the town’s largest mansions, some of them within clear view of the trail. It also has the area’s most spectacular ocean vistas, fronting ocean-swept cliffs.
Newport, RI - Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 3.6
Thanks to the Nature Conservancy, 42 percent of Block Island is preserved as open space. In addition to land preserves, many acres are kept free from development through easements with private property owners. The Rodman Hollow loop covers the whole range of terrain that Block Island has to offer, including rolling meadow, grand Atlantic Ocean views, and a rare instance of being surrounded by a relatively mature forest.
Block Island, RI - Birding,Hiking,Horseback Riding - Trail Length: 2.1
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One of five national wildlife refuges in Rhode Island, Sachuest Point was farmland used for sheep grazing into the early 1900s and then was used by the U.S. Navy during World War II as a rifle range and communications center. Thick underbrush and some open meadows remain on this prime 242-acre spit of protected land extending out into the Atlantic Ocean. A key stopover and wintering area for migratory birds, the entire preserve is an ornithologist’s dream come true. No dogs. A trail map is posted on a stand.
Newport, RI - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 2.4
Entirely over sand, gravel, and grass, wide flat wood roads take you past several prime fishing ponds. Once you walk around the gate, you’ll be on a wide sand and gravel access road that appears to be regularly used by vehicles. A map board covered with a small roof is up ahead to your right. The grade is flat at the beginning, followed by a slight but steady decline surrounded by small- to mid-growth oak, swamp maple, beech, laurel, and prominent well-established holly trees.
Adamsville, RI - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 2.1
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A wide open meadow directly behind the visitor center in this national wildlife refuge gives way to coastal woodland before surprising you with two peninsulas jutting out into Trustom Pond, narrowly separated by barrier beach from the ocean. Well-marked and maintained trail surfaces, multiple viewing platforms, and plenty of benches make this hike enjoyable and easy to navigate. As you stand in the medium-size asphalt parking looking back at the entry, you’ll see bathroom facilities and a water fountain across the lot to your right (east). Turn around and you’ll see the tiny visitor center to the left front of the lot. The trail begins on a wooden walkway/deck that abuts the visitor center’s right-hand side, leading you to a stone dust footpath.
West Kingston, RI - Birding,Hiking - Trail Length: 2.3
Not far from the Sakonnet River, on Rhode Island’s eastern shore, this hike takes you through land that the Tiverton community fought hard to preserve. Wood roads and footpaths wind though mixed woodland, pastures long since abandoned and grown over, and a working farm that’s alive and well. Perk test pipes along one stretch still stand as a reminder that this land could have very well become a housing development.
Newport, RI - Cross-Country Skiing,Hiking,Horseback Riding,Snowshoeing - Trail Length: 4.8
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