The tiny state of Rhode Island sports a 400-mile-long coastline that’s disproportionate to its size; the state is only 37 miles wide and 48 miles long. Nicknamed the Ocean State, Rhode Island has a rich history as a New England seaside playground. Home to high-end summer vacation homes, woodlands and ponds, and miles of gorgeous beaches, Rhode Island is a little state that packs a big punch.
Rhode Island hasn’t traditionally been considered a hiking destination because its terrain is generally flat. The state boasts the lowest highest elevation in the country at 812 feet. As you can imagine, hiking in Rhode Island is not extremely strenuous, but the breathtaking ocean views more than make up for the lack of elevation.
With its many easy and moderate trails, Rhode Island’s gorgeous landscape is ideally suited to peaceful, zen-like ambles where you’ll undoubtedly find solace in the beauty of nature.
1. Cliff Walk
The Cliff Walk in Newport is less of a hike than a walk along Newport’s coastline. The 3.5-mile walk is mostly an easy stroll. There is a section on the southern part of the walk that requires some careful boulder navigation, which will get your heart pumping. The road is easily accessible from Newport’s main roads.
The Cliff Walk brings you up close to Newport’s storied mansions. The stunning architecture and finely manicured lawns are as breathtaking as the rocky shoreline. You can read more about the historic city of Newport and discover some of its special attractions here.
2. Clay Head Trail
Block Island’s Greenway Trails give you the best views of the island landscape while allowing you to escape from the throngs of tourists. The island is a hilly 7 miles long and 3 miles wide, and the Greenway trails crisscross the landscape, offering breathtaking views.
The Clay Head Trail is one of the most popular on the island. The easy, 3.5-mile out-and-back trail takes you from Corn Neck Road to the northeastern shoreline. The hikers-only trail is tranquil and relaxing. You will see bird-watchers along the way and perhaps a bird or two.
A fun scavenger hunt on Block Island is the Glass Float Project. The glass orbs are hidden around the island, and if you find one, you get to keep it! Make sure you register your discovery so that the remaining count is accurate. Good luck!
3. Jerimoth Hill
Jerimoth Hill is the highest point in the state of Rhode Island. As I mentioned, Rhode Island is fairly flat, and this quick .3-mile hike is more of a lovely little stroll. You probably won’t break a sweat.
However, we included this walk here because Jerimoth Hill is the highest spot in the state. It is the perfect introduction to the Highpointers Club, a group of climbers whose goal is to climb to the highest point in each of the 50 states. When you’ve climbed to Jerimoth Hill, you only have 49 high points left to go!
4. Weetamoo Woods Trail, Weetamoo Woods
The Weetamoo Woods Trail covers 4.7 miles. Most of the hike is easy to moderate; however, there are some tricky scrambling sections, and the lower trail is prone to muddy spots. There are many areas with bridges crossing over several small streams, so be prepared with waterproof hiking shoes.
One of the highlights of the hike is a stop at Gray’s Ice Cream for a post-trek treat. Gray’s is a quick half mile from the trailhead and a perfect reward for completing the loop.
5. Beavertail Trail, Beavertail State Park
Jutting out into Narragansett Bay is Beavertail State Park, located on the bucolic island of Jamestown. The 2.3-mile Beavertail Trail traces the western shoreline of the island and loops back through a scruffy forest. For an easy trail, it offers beautiful water views across the bay to Narragansett.
The trail is frequented mostly by friendly locals, typically accompanied by their four-legged trekkers. There are a number of benches strategically located along the shoreline where you can sit and enjoy the panoramic water views.
6. Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge Trail, Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge
This is my pick for the best hike in Rhode Island. Check out TravelAwaits’ picks for the best hikes in all 50 states here. For a hike with some of the best views Rhode Island has to offer, head down to the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge. Located on a peninsula, the refuge’s trail offers gorgeous water views from almost every vantage point. This isolated 2.4-mile loop winds around the outer edge of the refuge. Sachuest Point is one of Rhode Island’s best-kept secrets and represents Mother Nature at her finest.
If you venture off to a side trail, you’ll have access to mostly secluded beach areas that are perfect for quiet contemplation. Be sure to keep an eye out for the deer that inhabit the refuge, along with the abundance of other wildlife.
7. Watchaug Pond Trail And Kimball Wildlife Refuge Trail, Burlingame State Park
The Watchaug Pond Trail in Burlingame State Park is an 11-mile, moderate loop that encircles Watchaug Pond and bumps up against Kimball Wildlife Refuge. The trail offers lovely views of the pond, some on road sections and densely wooded paths.
The Kimball Wildlife Refuge Trail is an easy, 2.6-mile out-and-back hike. A wonderful place to enjoy bird-watching, the refuge is a peaceful home for birds and small creatures.
If you combine the two trails, the hike will take up most of your day. However, if you take the Watchaug Pond Trail south, you can connect with the Kimball Wildlife Refuge Trail, giving you an out-and-back hike in the 10-mile range.
8. Carr’s Pond And Tarbox Pond Trail, Big River State Management Area
This 4-mile loop trail takes you completely around Carr’s Pond and to the southeastern end of Tarbox Pond. The flat, easy trail does have some roots, and it tends to be muddy in places due to the proximity of the pond. The views of the pond and the woodland setting bring a sense of peace. Since the walk is fairly flat, you can contemplate nature and let your thoughts wander. It’s a great place to get away from it all for a few hours.
9. Long Pond Woods Trail, Rockville Management Area
The moderately difficult Long Pond Woods Trail is 4.2 miles of Rhode Island hiking bliss. This is one of the state's true hiking spots, where you’ll need good hiking shoes and some rock-scrambling experience. The views of Long Pond at the top of the trail are stunning and a well-deserved reward for your efforts.
The main trailhead splits the trail, and you can go east to Ashville Pond or west to Long Pond. Both trails are winding, energizing, and a fun way to spend a beautiful afternoon.
10. Rocky Point Walking Trail, Rocky Point State Park
Once home to an amusement park, the Rocky Point Walking Trail is an easy 1.6-mile loop offering breathtaking views of Narragansett Bay. The trail is marked with placards describing the Rocky Point Amusement Park in its heyday.
The gentle, paved walkway is a lovely, easy walk for everyone. If you are looking for a little more exercise, venture off the trail and explore the remnants of the defunct amusement park.
11. Neutaconkanut Hill Park Loop, Neutaconkanut Hill Conservatory
If you find yourself in Providence looking for a quick nature fix, Neutaconkanut Hill Park Loop will provide you with 1.7 miles of gentle forest trails in the heart of the city. It is not always easy to find a secluded nature walk within city limits, but this loop is a hidden oasis for the weary traveler.
The next time you find yourself in Providence, pack your walking shoes and add Neutaconkanut Hill to your itinerary.
12. Meshanticut State Park Loop, Meshanticut State Park
For a quick .8-mile lakeside jaunt that is handicap accessible and stroller friendly, consider the Meshanticut State Park Loop in Cranston. This isn’t a destination hike, but a relaxing stroll in the city. The loop encircles the lake and offers water views along the majority of the route.
The hike is located in a tiny state park and traverses adjoining neighborhoods.
Pro Tip: It is always a good idea to wear something bright -- traditionally orange -- on your hike. Hunters are often out in New England in the fall months, and you wouldn’t want to be mistaken for a target. Always download a trail map before you begin your hike. Trails markers are often faded or nonexistent, and Wi-Fi can be unreliable.
This article is presented by KEEN Footwear. I have bone spurs in my feet, but because of the support the KEEN soles offer, I had no pain at the end of my hike. A word of caution: The KEEN Targhee III rides high on your ankle, so make sure to wear socks that are above the sneaker line to avoid rubbing. That said, these are perfect for moderate to difficult hikes or any hikes that involve tree roots, gravely surfaces, or rock scrambling. Shop KEEN’s Targhee and other hiking shoes here.