Where to Go Hiking in Rhode Island: 10 Trails to Enjoy

A Barred Owl rests on a thin branch looking directly at the camera amidst vibrant green leaves in springtime

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Planning to go hiking in Rhode Island? This small New England state isn’t exactly known for its tall mountain peaks, but it still offers tons of fun and interesting trails to enjoy. Take the kiddos or aim for beautiful views — these RI hikes cover all the bases!

The best thing about Rhode Island is how much of this state you can cover quickly and easily.

At just 48 miles long by 37 miles wide, the smallest state in the US offers everything from beautiful beaches, cliffs, and islands, to jaw-dropping mansions, hipster cities, and lovely state parks.

Though small in size, Rhode Island offers plenty in scope!

You might also like our guide to the best hikes on the East Coast to explore even more of this region on foot.

For more outdoor adventures, check out our guide to all of Rhode Island’s state parks.

Best Hikes in Rhode Island for Families

If you’re taking the kids on a hike in RI, you’ll want to choose an easy enough trail for everyone.

Luckily, Rhode Island is a fairly flat state so many of the hiking trails are perfect training ground for young legs!

Be sure to check out our guide to the best places to visit in Rhode Island for other family-friendly spots in the Ocean State.

Ballard, Sunset, and Deer Chase Loop from Bristol

Located on Prudence Island, this 3.3-mile trail is perfect if you’re looking for a scenic trail to complete with little ones.

This trail takes you through the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, so you’ll have a unique experience enjoying all the nature the reserve can provide.

Because this trail is a loop, you’ll be experiencing new and exciting views every step of the way; you won’t have to worry about the kids getting bored!

Hop on the Prudence Ferry from Bristol, RI in the morning, which will drop you off a short walk from the trailhead at the intersection of Hill Side Road and Pear Tee Lane.

With a total elevation gain hardly topping 200 feet, both you and the kids will have a great time exploring the woods on this small, charming island.

A marker points to Prudence Island, where you can go hiking in Rhode Island
Prudence Island is marked southwest of Bristol, where you catch the ferry

Lincoln Woods Trail in Lincoln, RI

This 3.1-mile trail located right off Route 146 and Route 123 is a perfect trail for all skill levels.

Explore the natural features of Olney Pond along this loop-style hike with a great variety of views, natural areas, and other fun hidden treasures.

Lincoln Woods State Park is a short ride from Pawtucket, Providence, and Cumberland.

This trail is open year-round and you can bring your dog on a leash!

Lincoln Woods State Park has a wonderful network of dozens of trails that crisscross and overlap, so if you’re feeling extra adventurous with the kiddos, you can definitely forge a unique path off of the traditional loop!

Whether you’re in the midst of your hike or you’ve just finished the trail, you can enjoy swimming or trout fishing in the ponds, or playing baseball on the well-kept fields.

The ponds are also tested for safe ice in the winter, so you can enjoy this park and trail system with the kids all year round!

One important note: the trail is not well-marked in places, so make sure you come prepared with a map or a charged phone with GPS.

Check out our guide to Rhode Island in fall which also features Lincoln Woods State Park.

Best Backpacking Trips in Rhode Island

If you’re looking for more of a challenge, backpacking hikes in RI might just fit the bill.

You can’t claim any tall summits here, but you can take longer trekking trips to immerse yourself in the wild beauty.

If you love getting outdoors, check out our guide to East Coast camping on Memorial Day Weekend and start the summer season off right!

Walkabout Trail Loop (Orange) Off Route 44 (Putnam Pike)

This moderate, 8.4-mile trail is perfect for campers.

Located near Chepachet, Rhode Island on George Washington Memorial Camping Area, you’ll enjoy two bodies of water (with a longer trail option if you’d like to make it three) and amazing views.

Start the loop just north of the George Washington State Campground, and end in the same spot.

The campground is open from the second weekend in April through October, so make sure you plan your timing accordingly.

Call ahead to make reservations or to ask any questions as you’re planning.

This trail is very well-marked and can be low-trafficked, so you’ll definitely get some solitude on this path.

One important note: this trail tends to get pretty wet, especially in the spring.

Come prepared for waterlogged stretches of trail with waterproof shoes or a good change of socks.

North South Trail, Wood River Junction and Exeter

This 16.5-mile backpacking trip is best for more experienced hikers, so make sure you’re well-prepared for this trip.

It is a point-to-point hike, so either ensure you have transportation to take you back to your starting point or are prepared to hike an out-and-back 33-mile trip.

With just over 1,000 feet of total elevation gain and a couple of great bodies of water, you’ll be able to explore a great portion of the Rhode Island woods.

You can choose to start in either Exeter or Wood River Junction, but Exeter has a lovely network of trails at this end of the hike.

Accessible Hiking Trails in Rhode Island

Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge Trail Near Newport

Map marker showing Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Rhode Island near Newport
Sachuest Point National Wildlife Reserve is conveniently near Newport

This wheelchair-, stroller-, and kid-friendly hike is perfect for a lovely afternoon by the ocean.

A 2.4-mile loop near Newport, Rhode Island will take you on a stroll around the tip of Sachuest Point, where you might see deer, coyote, or other migrating species any season of the year.

There are two designated accessible parking spots (which are also van-accessible) at the Visitor Center, where the hike begins.

The entire trail surface is gravel, and most parts are at least four feet wide.

The average grade is gentle, with the steepest grade being 3%.

There are multiple park benches throughout the trail for resting and appreciating the views, as well.

About half the trail links up with the Ocean View Loop, so you’ll love the amazing breeze from the water and the breathtaking vastness of the Atlantic Ocean.

Les Pawson Loop Near Lincoln, RI

Just a bit more challenging than the Sachuest Point Wildlife Refuge Trail, this 2.9-mile paved hike around Olney Pond in Lincoln Woods State Park is wheelchair-, stroller-, and kid-friendly.

There are no designated accessible parking spots in the gravel parking lot near the intersection of Table Rock Road and Lincoln Woods Road, but because it is a more lightly trafficked trail, you will likely be able to find a spot to park.

The trail is about 8 feet wide, though it is divided lengthwise for two-direction traffic.

This is a mostly gentle grade trail, though there are some steeper parts (about 5% grade) at the 0.4 and 0.6 mile mark going clockwise.

There are benches throughout the trail for resting.

This trail is also plowed during the winter, so if you’d like to head outside after snowfall, you’re going to love this hike!

Best Hikes in RI for Wildlife

World War II Memorial Loop in Smithfield, RI

If you love birdwatching, this 4.4-mile hike in Wolf Hill Forest Preserve is perfect to spot all the best birds in Rhode Island.

Best traveled from March to October, you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful waterfall, amazing views, and deep history on one of the best hiking trails in Rhode Island.

Though this hike features just over 400 feet in total elevation gain, the trail is classified as moderate due to quite a bit of rocky traversing.

If you like history, you’ll be able to find a memorial at a bomber crash site and an abandoned 1940’s Boy Scout Camp.

Wolf Hill Forest Preserve features a lovely network of trails in case you’d like to seek out a specific landscape feature to keep an eye out for your favorite bird species.

Start your hike right off of Route 5; the trailhead is located just after the intersection of Route 5 and Waterview Drive.

After your hike, stop by Laura’s Bar & Grill (formerly Laura’s Pleasant View Diner now at 945 Douglas Pike) for an eggplant caprese sandwich and a cold beer!

They also make amazing special martinis that you simply cannot resist.

Long Pond Woods Trail in Hopkinton, RI

This 4.5-mile out-and-back hike is great for nature walks, wildlife sightings, and some serious hiking!

The trail is part of the Rockville Management and Public Fishing Area in Hope Valley, Rhode Island.

The trail gets a little bit rough in the winter season, so it’s best used from March to November.

Park in the parking lot on Canonchet Road near the eastern tip of Long Pond.

If you’d like to start the last leg of the hike after the best panoramic view of the trip, head out east until the trail meets Stubtown Road (about 1.2 miles).

Then, retrace your steps, pass the parking lot, and continue west along Long Pond until you reach the second point of the trail.

This view is one of the best in Rhode Island, so you won’t want to miss it!

Scramble up a few big rocks and be rewarded with amazing water and mountain views.

Be prepared for steep rocky scrambles and overgrown parts, and consider bringing along some trekking poles.

This area is prime habitat for nesting birds, so if you’re hoping to spot young birds, try this trail in the spring!

This area is also great for spotting Barred Owls.

This trail would also be perfect to bring along your fishing rod, as Long Pond is a great spot for an afternoon of fishing.

One important note: the parking lot for the trail is located at the halfway mark of the trip.

A Barred Owl rests on thin branch looking at the camera amidst vibrant green leaves in springtime

Best Rhode Island Hikes for Good Views

The Iconic Newport Cliff Walk

The Newport Cliff Walk is perhaps the most popular hiking trail in Rhode Island.

Perhaps more of a stroll than a hike, you can enjoy the rewards of stunning vistas without having to climb uphill nonstop.

This 3.5-mile walking tour along the Rhode Island coast is perfect for a new hiker.

You can opt for this self-guided audio tour to learn more about Newport, Rhode Island, as you admire the sea and the mansions along the way.

From the Cliff Walk, you can see some of the most iconic Newport mansions, including The Breakers.

The Breakers, a Vanderbilt Mansion in Newport Rhode Island
See The Breakers from the Newport Cliff Walk

Wickaboxet Loop from Saddle Rock Road in West Greenwich, RI

The Wickaboxet Loop is a 5.6-mile moderate loop in West Greenwich, Rhode Island with beautiful pond views, fields of wildflowers, and even a historical cemetery.

The trail is clearly marked throughout, but still, make sure you come prepared with a charged phone with GPS capabilities and possibly even a printed map.

Start and end the hike at the tip of Saddle Rock Road, where the trailhead begins.

With just under 600 feet of total elevation gain, this moderate-to-easy trail will give you a great afternoon challenge.

Dogs are welcome on this trail, as long as they’re leashed!

Once you’ve completed the trail, make sure you visit Leyden Farm Vineyard & Winery (160 Plain Meeting House Road) and enjoy a wine tasting!

Treat Yourself After Hiking in Rhode Island

After a morning hike, take advantage of Rhode Island’s incredibly small size and head to Providence for the rest of the day.

Treat yourself to all the wonderful plates this vibrant city has to offer, from sandwiches to seafood to sumptuous desserts and more.

Take the Taste of Rhode Island Guided Food Tour in Providence; you’ll need the nourishment after hitting the trails!

Providence Rhode Island skyline across the water
Head to Providence after your hike

Final Words

Are you feeling ready to go hiking in Rhode Island now? We hope so!

If we missed your favorite local trail, please share it in the comments.

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