14 Incredible Hikes in Rhode Island for All Levels - Urban Outdoors
Some of our posts include affiliate links. When you make a purchase from one of these links, The Urban Outdoors may receive a commission at no additional cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services we actually use - no BS necessary.

Rhode Island may be the tiniest state in the United States, but don’t let that fool you! There are still so many wonderful places to go hiking in Rhode Island to explore the outdoors. With easy access to the New England coast and plenty of forests and rocky coastlines to explore, this little state has a surprising number of options for people wanting to go on a scenic stroll in nature. Don’t take our word for it – here’s a guide to some of the best hikes in Rhode Island you can enjoy.

Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite hiker? Here’s a comprehensive list of our
35 favorite (practical) gifts for hikers, updated for 2020!

Things to Know Before Hiking in Rhode Island

  • Rhode Island’s trails are mostly flat. This means that hikes are primarily easy, with a few moderate trails here and there. You’ll find lots of nature walks in scenic places, which are great for hiking with family, beginners, or dogs. Don’t expect to find strenuous mountain hikes or scrambling here! If you’re looking for more challenging terrain, you can find several moderate or difficult hikes nearby in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
  • Many of the trails in Rhode Island offer gorgeous coastal views. Unlike many of the states that have a more inland location, Rhode Island is virtually all coast. For what it lacks in rocky mountaintops, it makes up for in gorgeous shoreline views (and incredible seafood restaurants post-hike!).
  • Because of its location on the water, you can often swim near the trails. This is a wonderful New England summer activity, combining hiking and swimming on the shore. Don’t forget to bring water shoes, as the coastline here can be very jagged and rocky.
Photo Credit: enjoiskate8 (Flickr CC)

Easy Hikes in Rhode Island

Rocky Point Walking Trail

  • Location: Rocky Point State Park
  • Trail Length: 1.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

One of the nicest things about hiking in New England is that most trails, no matter how hard they are, have some kind of historical element to them. The Rocky Point Walking Trail is definitely one such area, and for this reason, it is one of the most beloved hikes in Rhode Island. Making a loop around a historic amusement park, this trail is an easy, short adventure into nature.

Here, you can still see remnants of Rocky Point Park‘s old cable car system as you traverse flat, mostly paved walking paths that border the sea. Along the way, you can find piers that jut out into the water and nice places to stop for a picnic. We love this trail because it’s peaceful, accessible, and beautiful, the perfect combination in a leisurely spot for hiking in Rhode Island.

Clay Head Trail

  • Location: Block Island, RI
  • Trail Length: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 203 feet

Another one of the beloved historical seaside hikes in Rhode Island is the Clay Head Trail, which is located on Block Island. This 3.5-mile trail has gorgeous views of the rocky shoreline, but also provides hikers access to the historic Block Island’s North Lighthouse. Unlike some of the flatter shoreline ares, Block Island’s waterfront has sandy cliffs, rocky areas, and hills with wildflowers, making it an extra scenic spot for hiking in Rhode Island, especially in the spring when you can see lots of colorful blooms and local bird species. We’d recommend this hike for anyone who wants a diverse set of landscapes to enjoy in one easy trail.

Beavertail Trail

  • Location: Narragansett, RI
  • Trail Length: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

Perhaps one of the most iconic waterfront hikes in Rhode Island is Beavertail Trail, which boasts breathtaking rocky shores with waves that crash powerfully onto the coast. Everyone who does this trail loves the variety of water views, especially toward the northern side of the loop. One extra nice thing about hiking in a place like the Beavertrail Trail is that it’s exceptionally beautiful, even on foggy, rainy, or cloudy days.

Come once or return several times as the seasons change to get a different perspective of this gorgeous waterfront trail. On sunnier, calmer days, the water is a vibrant turquoise color, which looks completely different than the typical grays and greens of the Atlantic. However, in cloudier weather, the area has nostalgic, moody vibes that are perfect for watching the waves crashing on the shore or sitting peacefully on the overlooks and listening to the sounds of the ocean.

Weetamoo Woods Trail

  • Location: Weetamoo Woods
  • Trail Length: 4.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 262 feet

If you’re looking for something different than the many coastal hikes in Rhode Island, the Weetamoo Woods Trail might be a good option for you. Instead of bordering the sea, this trail is fully forested and passes through a historic and nature-conservation area where you can see remains of old mills and cellars, as well as local plant and animal life (including the park’s resident pony!). Flat, easy dirt trails wind through forests and farmlands, giving hikers some wonderful and serene areas for a leisurely stroll. This trail is great on its own or combined with the Fort Barton trail, which is nearby, for a full-day outdoor adventure!

Photo Credit: Dan Gray (Flickr CC)

Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge Trail

  • Location: Newport, RI
  • Trail Length: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

Located in dearly beloved Newport, RI, the Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge has its own beautiful coastal hiking trails that locals can enjoy. While the ocean views here are quite stunning, the main attraction at this refuge is the wildlife watching opportunities. For wildlife lovers, you have the chance to catch a glimpse at the many deer that call the preserve home, as well as the local coyote pack that roams the area. There are also TONS of marine bird species that reside in this coastal area, making it a perfect spot for birdwatching aficionados to spend a day. Whether you’re here for the views, the wildlife, or just to get some fresh air, you can never go wrong with a hike at Sachuest Point.

Photo Credit: Dangagga (Flickr CC)

Napatree Point Conservation Area Trail

  • Location: Westerly, RI
  • Trail Length: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

For a quieter, less popular hike that you can do to catch a break from the city, head to Napatree Point. Unlike the other easy hikes in Rhode Island, this area isn’t so much a trail as it is a large walking area on the beach bordering Fisher’s Island Sound. For long walks on the beach, especially during sunrise or sunset, there are few easy trails that are better than the one at Napatree Point Conservation Area. Don’t make the mistake of wearing flimsy sandals on this hike, however, as there are some really cool rocky areas to check out. Instead, wear a good pair of hiking sandals and get ready to explore!

Lincoln Woods Trail

  • Location: Lincoln, RI
  • Trail Length: 3.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 298 feet

If you’re burnt out, tired, or just want to get away for a bit, the Lincoln Woods trail is a wonderful option for hiking in Rhode Island. This simple, 3.1-mile trail runs through the trees and offers beautiful views of nearby Olney Pond, especially during the fall when the leaves begin to change colors. There’s not much in the way of physical landmarks, but it’s a wonderful trail for simply getting out in nature, getting some fresh air, and enjoying the solitude of the forest. Morning walks in Lincoln Woods State Park are absolutely divine, and will definitely help you reset from whatever is stressing you out in your daily life.

Photo Credit: The Carouselambra Kid (Flickr CC)

Warwick Path

  • Location: Warwick, RI
  • Trail Length: 2.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: Minimal

A paved, flat trail by the ocean, Warwick Path is another one that is light on actual landmarks and attractions, but heavy on beautiful, peaceful views throughout. Perfect for families with young children, dogs, or wheelchairs, this paved pathway provides virtually everyone an opportunity to explore some of the best that Rhode Island hiking has to offer. There’s also the chance you’ll see local wildlife, like deer and coastal bird species, while you’re in the area. While the paved trails make this area feel less like a traditional “hike” and more like a walk in the park, the views and access to nature are on par with many of the other trails on our list.

Fort Barton/Sin and Flesh Brook Trail

  • Location: Tiverton, RI
  • Trail Length: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 229 feet

Despite its somewhat gruesome name, the Fort Barton/Sin and Flesh Brook Trail is actually a beautiful hike in Tiverton, RI that leads to some outstanding views from a tower built atop a hill. Unlike many of these trails, which focus on flatland vistas of the sea and lakes, you can catch a bird’s eye view of the water and the Tiverton town area from the top. Because it leads to a viewpoint, this hike does have a little bit of elevation gain, but nothing that a beginner hiker or young child couldn’t do! Most locals who hike this trail love it for walking their dogs, spending time with family, or seeing the views of Rhode Island on clear days.

Photo Credit: m01229 (Flickr CC)

Moderate Hikes in Rhode Island

Cliff Walk

  • Location: Newport, RI
  • Trail Length: 6.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 324 feet

Arguably the most quintessential and beloved hiking trail in all of Rhode Island is the Cliff Walk, a nearly 7-mile trail bordering the ocean near Newport. This trail is unique from the others on the list because it’s partially paved and partially rugged, meaning there’s truly something for every hiker here. No trip to Newport would be complete without doing at least a small part of this trail!

To one side of the trail is the ocean, with waves that crash against the cliffs below, and to the other side are some of the most magnificent, grandiose mansions in the East Coast. Some are privately owned, some are new historic sites, schools, and museums, and a few are even open to stay in as bed & breakfast type establishments. One thing is for sure, though – these elegant homes are a huge part of the view of this trail. It’s fun to look at them and dream about what their stories are as you’re hiking!

Farther down the path, there’s a more rugged section where you’ll be walking on jagged rocks instead of paved trails. This area is where the hiking fun begins, as you feel like you’re really exploring the area, rather than just walking on the sidewalk! With stunning views of homes and the ocean throughout, there’s a reason why we love the Cliff Walk so much.

Buck Hill Trail

  • Location: Pascoag, RI
  • Trail Length: 6.9 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 567 feet

For a forested trail with a bit more elevation gain than one like Lincoln Woods, the Buck Hill Trail is a wonderful option among the moderate hikes in Rhode Island. There are few particular landmarks or viewpoints on this trail, but it’s a really nice and fun escape in the woods that’s perfect for those wanting to be out in peaceful, quiet nature and get a decent workout to boot. The areas that houses the Buck Hill trail has a whole network of trails available to hike, so you can shorten or extend your hike as you see fit. However, locals do admit that the trails can often be poorly marked, so it’s wise to keep a phone or GPS on you in case you need to find your way back to your car!

Photo Credit: Peter Rintels (Flickr CC)

Tillinghast Pond Loop

  • Location: West Greenwich, RI
  • Trail Length: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 101 feet

Located on historic farmlands, the Tillinghast Pond Loop trail is a wonderful nature trail that offers an easy to moderate walk through the forest and alongside the water. People really love this hike for photography and for escaping city life and enjoying the serenity of nature. Perfect for kids, beginners, or anyone who loves the outdoors, this pond area has a really charming, peaceful aura to it that’s hard to find around the Northeast cities.

Long Pond Woods Trail

  • Location: Hope Valley, RI
  • Trail Length: 4.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 469 feet

Experienced hikers, rejoice! The Long Pond Woods Trail is one of the only trails you’ll find in the state of Rhode Island that offers challenging terrain, including some areas for scrambling if you wish. This trail runs through several nature conservation areas, including the Nature Conservancy and Audubon lands in the area. Because of its proximity to wildlife habitats, dogs aren’t allowed on this trail, but you’ll enjoy the wildlife viewing opportunities and moderate terrain if you are looking for Rhode Island hikes that offer a little bit more of a challenge.

Photo Credit: Wilson Loo Kok Wee (Flickr CC)

Roger Williams Park Trail

  • Location: Providence, RI
  • Trail Length: 3.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 101 feet

Located in the heart of Providence, the Roger Williams Park trail may seem like an unlikely spot for a good hike. However, this nearly 4-mile loop trail has so much to offer that we couldn’t leave it off our list! From historic homes to gnarly trees to magnificent structures and waterside views, it’s a really cool hike, especially given that it’s located in such an urban environment. Depending on what you’re looking for, there are dirt trails leading around the park as well as paved sidewalks, meaning you can bring along strollers or wheelchairs if you so choose. The dirt paths offer a more moderate walk/hike and feel a bit more rugged, if getting out in nature on a time crunch is your goal.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Rhode Island

What to Bring

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

Wondering what exactly you should pack for your next hike? Visit our Complete Day Hiking Packing List for our full list and our top gear recommendations.

Related Articles

Avatar
Author

Kay Rodriguez is the founder of Urban Outdoors. She's also the writer and photographer behind Jetfarer. When she's not writing furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, paddling, or playing in the snow.

Write A Comment