Fall is here in Rhode Island. Very soon the Ocean State will become the Foliage State, and it will be a glorious sight to behold! (Current predictions suggest that Rhode Island foliage will be at peak color in mid- to late-October this year.) We've got all the top spots, most scenic drives, and photo friendliest locations for you to get your (leaf) peep on this fall!
SCENIC ROUTE 102
One of the best fall foliage drives in Rhode Island is along Route 102. It's a fantastic stretch of road that captures great foliage views starting in Blackstone Valley and ending in Wickford in South County. We've mapped it out for you by town and added in places to stop along the way and grab a bite, take a walk or do a bit of shopping.
There are plenty of prime spots for fantastic foliage in the northern part of the state. Lincoln Woods State Park, with its 627 acres of woods, trails, and boulders is stunning this time of year - whether you're hiking, biking or bouldering. Blackstone River State Park offers riverfront bike paths and walking trails - as well as historic walking tours. Buck Hill Management Area covers more than two thousand acres comprised of forest, wetlands, and marsh as well as wildlife. And the Blackstone River Bikeway/ Blackstone Canal is a great place to take in the fall colors as you pedal along a beautiful, canopied bike path.
OK, **SPOILER ALERT** there is no leaf-peeping on Block Island. But, we're including it here because Block Island in fall has its own unique, serene beauty and is absolutely worth the trip. The Block Island Tourism Council describes the island's fall landscape as one featuring soaring cliffs and nature walks among tall grasses, goldenrod, and other fall flora. There is wildlife aplenty as well, including deer, turtles, and ducks. And let's not forget the panoramic ocean views - gorgeous in any season. And there's always the chance you might find a glass float in your travels!
There are some fantastic ways to enjoy the sights of fall in Bristol County. Meander through Colt State Park's 464 acres of manicured lawns, fruit trees, groves, stone walls, and bike paths bordering Narragansett Bay. Pedal the East Bay Bike Path as it follows the shore of Narragansett Bay over bridges and past coves and marshes. From the bike path, you can make a pit stop at the Rhode Island Audubon Society Nature Center and Aquarium and the Claire D. McIntosh Wildlife Refuge. Or take in the magnificent grounds of the 33-acre Blithewold Mansion, Gardens & Arboretum. You won't be disappointed!
Tiverton and Little Compton, in Newport County, are excellent leaf-peeping destinations, and the leafy canopied Tiverton Four Corners and Little Compton Historical District are especially charming when the leaves turn. The Norman Bird Sanctuary, in Middletown, and its seven miles of hiking trails are fantastic any time of year, but they're an especially wonderful place to enjoy the crisp fall air and colors of the season. Rail Explorers lets you take in the sights of autumn by rail bike as you pedal along an old rail corridor underneath vivid foliage. In Newport, take a ride along Ocean Drive or walk the famous Cliff Walk for wonderful views of fall along the coastline and the Newport Mansions.
You've got plenty of options for foliage spots in the Capital City. The amazing view of Prospect Terrace is only made more impressive by the addition of fall foliage. Then, there's Waterplace Park and RiverWalk, which afford beautiful city views, regardless of the season. Take a stroll along Benefit Street for foliage with a side of historic architecture. Another great place in Providence is Neutaconkanut Hill. While the trails and woods here are wonderful year-round, fall is especially beautiful. And last, but definitely not least, is Roger Williams Park. Listed on the Register of Historic Places, featuring 435 acres and more than 100 acres of ponds, the beauty of the rolling landscape is a perfect place to get lost for a little while this autumn.
There are many, many ways to enjoy fall foliage in the southern part of Rhode Island. Arcadia Management Area in Hope Valley is 14,000 acres and a favorite spot for hikers, bikers, and equestrians. This slice of paradise is a great foliage destination and it's home to Stepstone Falls, a lovely waterfall made even prettier by bright fall colors. South County has three must-try scenic foliage drives:
(1) Shannock Villiage Road passes through the town of Charlestown and Shannock Village. Along the way, you'll see beautiful views of homes, farms, and an 1850 textile mill village. Shannock Village is on the National Register of Historic Places.
(2) Route 1A is a delightful, scenic diversion from US Route 1. The road meanders along the coves and inlets, affording riders with views of the water and the countryside.
(3) Route 4 Southbound from East Greenwich through Exeter, Carolina, and Kingston to Charlestown. This inland, southbound route takes you through some very pretty towns. Taking route 1 gives access to several beautiful beaches and a saltwater pond.
Warwick & West Bay
Warwick has two sensational state parks - and both are brilliant options for enjoying the spectacular fall weather and taking in the dazzling fall scenery. Goddard Memorial State Park consists of 490 acres along Greenwich Cove and Greenwich Bay in Warwick. Aside from a beach, golf course, and athletic fields, the park features spacious lawns and trees from all over the world. You can enjoy its more than 62 deciduous and 19 species of evergreen trees as you walk, picnic, or go horseback riding along its 18 miles of bridle trails.
Rocky Point State Park, the site of a former (and beloved) amusement park, features more than 120 acres of land overlooking Narragansett Bay. You can walk along a paved path by the water or traverse the open space and explore the wooded areas and fishing pier, all while enjoying beautiful foliage against the backdrop of the water. Rocky Point Park has interesting bits of park history posted throughout the property as well as some of the amusement park's structures, including the large arch by the entrance.