Hiking Nature Trail

farmRhode Island’s diverse landscape offers countless opportunities for you to enjoy a variety of hiking experiences on our Hiking Nature Trail. The Ocean State’s terrain is far more varied than one might expect for a small geographic area. For example, the southern and eastern areas of the state are relatively flat, with gently rolling farmlands, while the northern and western areas rise abruptly uphill through dense woodlands.

Towering pines, lush hardwoods, ponds, flowing waterways, abundant wildflowers and a variety of wildlife await exploration by outdoor enthusiasts. Be sure to bring binoculars and your camera!
Rhode Island’s numerous state parks and wildlife management areas preserve the state’s abundant natural resources and are easily accessible to hikers. From Burrillville to Block Island, you’re certain to see plentiful species of birds, plants, flowers and wildlife. And because Rhode Island is so compact in size, the comforts of civilization are never too far away.

You’ll find that our Nature Trails series includes lots of interesting options. We encourage you to customize your own nature trail that fits your specific interests and time frame. Remember, if you can fit everything into one trip, that’s a great reason to plan another.

map keyGeorge Washington Management Area
George Washington Management Area covers a total land area of 3,489 acres. This area is dominated by forest cover including deciduous forest (2,569 acres) and evergreen forest (419 acres). Wetlands (439 acres), agricultural (3.6 acres) and other land area (94.2 acres) make up the remainder of the property. Two ponds, Peck Pond and Underwood’s Pond, lie within the management area. The Pulaski Wildlife Marsh covers 10 acres and is a maintained impoundment, which creates excellent habitat for waterfowl and other wetland-dependent birds and mammals.

Hikers can choose between two cut-over trails at this management area. The Walkabout Trail allows hikers to customize both tour length and difficulty. Angell Loop offers a comfortable lakeshore-woodland circuit, passing a historic Indian gravesite. Because of the extensive forest habitat at George Washington Management Area, forest game and other forest wildlife dominate the area. Typical mammals include cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hare, grey squirrel, white-tailed deer and furbearers. Pulaski Marsh provides for a variety of waterfowl, including wood duck, black duck and mallard. Game birds found within the management area include ruffed grouse, wild turkey and woodcock. Glocester. 2185 Putnam Pike, Chepachet RI 02814, 401 568-2013

map keyRichard Knight Fort Nature Refuge
The headwaters of the Woonasquatucket River rise on this bucolic 235-acre woodland. Three small ponds and a variety of deciduous and coniferous trees provide diverse habitat for wildlife. Migrating warblers, turkeys, deer and other wildlife roam the refuge. Wonderful scenery along the so-called blue and white trails allow for spectacular hiking, cross-country skiing and bird-watching opportunities.

As a refuge of the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, Fort Refuge offers various programs throughout the year including wildlife walks, vernal pool exploration in the refuge and more. Open year-round. Rte. 5, North Smithfield, 401-949-5454, www.asri.org

map keyBlock Island Greenways
Block Island’s compact size, at three miles wide and seven miles long, is misleading when it comes to diverse hiking trails. Hikers can enjoy 25 miles of trails along Block Island’s grassy meadows, stone walls, inland moors and majestic Mohegan Bluffs, plus 17 miles of pristine beaches.

Inspired by England’s Greenway system of trails, the Block Island Greenway covers more than 12 miles of trails in the southern part of the island. The trails are as diverse as the island itself — some trails are wide and flat, while others are more challenging with steep inclines and rocky terrain.

This network of trails crisscross the island from the middle to the southern shore and meander through Nathan Mott Park, the Nature Conservancy, Turnip Farm, Rodman’s Hollow and private lands graced by old Victorian mansions and charming farmhouses. 

Access points can be found on Lakeside Drive and along Old Mill, Cooneymus, West Side and Beacon Hill roads. Look for granite Greenway markers, turnstyles and steps over stone walls. Southern Block Island, 401-466-2129, www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/rhodeisland/placesweprotect/block-island.xml

map keyOsamequin Wildlife Sanctuary
Owned and operated by the town of Barrington, this 42-acre sanctuary offers woodlands, fields and saltwater wetlands, with a well-defined trail system leading to the shores of Hundred Acre Cove and bordering wetlands. These two to three miles of trails that wind through the sanctuary makes this an ideal place for observing migratory waterfowl and shore birds. The trails are groomed and perfect for quiet nature walks and nature-minded families. No hunting, camping, fires or swimming allowed. Permit-only parking for town residents. Open year-round, from sunrise to sunset. Off the Wampanoag Trail, Rte. 114, Barrington.

map keyCliff Walk
A walk along this 3.5-mile trail in historic Newport affords views that combine the natural beauty of Narragansett Bay with the Gilded Age glamour of the city’s famous oceanside mansions. Designated a National Recreation Trail in 1975, about two-thirds of this trail is an easy walk; parts of the southern section of the walk are over some rugged terrain.

Sites along the Cliff Walk include the mansions of Salve Regina University, the Breakers and the Forty Steps, a festive gathering place for the servants of several Newport mansions during in the city’s Golden Age. 

The walk starts at the western end of Easton's Beach, Memorial Blvd., with major exits at Narragansett Ave., Webster St., Sheppard Ave., Ruggles Ave., Marine Ave., Ledge Rd. and Bellevue Ave. at the east end of Bailey's Beach.

map keyEmilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge
Located on the saltwater shores of the Sakonnet River in Tiverton, the Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge is a hidden jewel offering shallow marshes and upland woodlands for a wide variety of bird life. The 50-acre reserve offers hikers views of salt marshes, seabirds, the Sakonnet River and more.

Donated to the Audubon Society of Rhode Island in 1965, it was once a 30-acre farm belonging to Emily Rueckner. Now, the refuge is an inviting spot for nature walks along its one-and-a-half miles of easy walking trails, which should take about 90 minutes to complete.

As a favorite nesting site for many coastal birds including herons and egrets, parts of the trails may be closed at certain points during the year to prevent hikers from disturbing birds who nest within the reserve. Jack’s Island, a peninsula that extends into the Sakonnet River, is home to breeding ospreys. Seapowet Ave., Tiverton, www.asri.org/refuges/emilie-ruecker-wildlife-refuge.html

map keyArcadia Wildlife Management Area
Nestled in the rustic towns of West Greenwich, Exeter, Hopkinton and Richmond, Arcadia covers a total land area of an impressive 13,817 acres. This area’s forest cover is its dominating feature, with 64 percent deciduous forest and 36 percent evergreen cover, principally white pine. Freshwater wetlands, including swamps, marshes, Breakheart Pond, Beach Pond and Browning Mill Pond cover 1,678 acres. Trout fishers love the Wood River, known as one of the finest trout streams in the state.

The wildlife featured in the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area is unmatched. Hikers might catch sight of cottontail rabbits, snowshoe hare, wild turkey, bobwhite, ring-necked pheasant and scores of several game animals, fish and non-game species. West Greenwich, Exeter, Hopkinton, Richmond.  www.dem.ri.gov/maps/wma

map keyGeorge B. Parker Woodland
751-acre property owned and maintained by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. Open year-round, this impeccable area of woodlands is also famous for its collection of more than 100 mysterious rock cairns. These beehive-shaped stone piles range from two to four feet in height and are spread throughout a tract of land surrounding the Paul Cook Memorial Trail. Many theories surrounding the origins of the rock cairns have surfaced, including theories that they were built by the Narragansett Indians, Celtic settlers or Colonial farmers.

Hikers can marvel at the caretaker’s house, built in the 1700s and now on the National Register of Historic Places, old stone quarries, the Isaac Bowen House and the foundation of an 18th-century farm house. Maple Valley Rd., Coventry, 401-949-5454, www.asri.org/refuges/george-b.-parker-woodland.html

DEM Divisions of Fish and Wildlife and Forest Environment
Great Neck Rd., West Kingston, 401-789-0281; 4808 Tower Hill Rd., Wakefield, 401-789-3094, www.state.ri.us/dem

Learn more about outdoor Rhode Island at:

Did you know.

  • Much of Rhode Island’s topography was shaped by the last glacier that moved across this area more than 10,000 years ago.

  • Hundreds of miles of ancient stone walls weave through our woodlands, remnants of an earlier time when two-thirds of Rhode Island was farmland.

  • Don’t be surprised to see wild turkeys on your hike through the woods. They have made a big comeback in the state.

Tag a friend with whom you'd reminisce by the cozy fire.

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