Rhode Island Hiking

There are Rhode Island hiking trails that reach into every corner of this small state, covering a much more varied terrain than you might expect in such a geographically small area. You can explore the gently rolling hills of the southern and eastern farmlands; the dense woodlands full of streams and rivers in the north and western region of the state; and the historic bluffs, beaches, and numerous islands of the coastline. As your Rhode Island hiking takes you across the state, you can get in some fishing and camping; explore historic lighthouses and discover fascinating museums; and enjoy birdwatching in wildlife refuges.

The extensive Rhode Island Heritage Trails provide perhaps the best way to enjoy the state's rich cultural and architectural history. One of the most popular of these trails for hiking in Rhode Island is the Blackstone Valley Heritage Trail. Known as "The Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution," the valley played a dominant role in changing America from a farming nation to an industrial one. Begin at the historic Slater Mill in Pawtucket, and then hike across the northern part of the state and all the way to Worcester in Massachusetts, visiting living history museums and farms as you enjoy the scenic countryside.

Completely different Rhode Island Heritage Trails can be explored on tiny Block Island, twelve miles off the coast of Misquamicut. Begin in Old Harbor, the island's only village, and traverse bluffs and beaches surrounded by beautiful seas. Also called the Block Island Greenways Trail, it contains 25 continuous miles of hiking and walking trails that also traverse the grassy meadows of the island's interior. Two other of the Rhode Island Heritage Trails cover the maritime history of the mainland coast - the Newport County Maritime Heritage Trail and Military Heritage Trail that explores the historic Revolutionary War forts along the coast. On these Rhode Island hiking trails you barely need to detour at all to explore the opulent mansions of Newport. In fact, the 3.5 miles of the Newport Cliff Walk include the well-known mansions in this area.

For Rhode Island hiking of the more traditional sort, try the 72 miles of the North South Trail. This travels through the rural western part of the state, through eight towns and seven state forest management areas. Some segments of this trail are restricted only to hikers, but several sections are set aside for multi-use and allow horseback riders and mountain bikers. A series of six one-day hikes takes you form the far north, south along the Connecticut border and through the town of Exeter. You eventually end up on the beaches of South County near Misquamicut.

The East Coast Greenway is a developing trail system that will eventually stretch for 2,500 miles from Maine to Florida. The Coventry Greenway is one of the sections of this national greenway open to hiking in Rhode Island. It's a five-mile long unpaved trail along a former railway line. It begins at the town of Coventry and winds its way past Greenwich to Warwick. Along this trail is great fishing in ponds and reservoirs and in the Flat River, as well as some camping sites.

More urban hiking in Rhode Island can be found on the Providence River Walk. Across the country, the Industrial Revolution dammed and rerouted rivers and waterways to power textile mills, and you can see this quite clearly in Providence, where the waterways are edged by the beautifully landscaped River Walk that crosses Venetian-style bridges and connects the various parts of the cities. Throughout the year, you can enjoy events along the River Walk, such as concerts, farmer's markets, and arts festivals. More hiking trails in Rhode Island are located in the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area, which contains 14,000 acres of wilderness, eight marked trails, and some of the best trout fishing in the state.

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