Outdoor Guide | Summer Fun

Hike the State

Explore RI's natural beauty on foot


There’s no better way to celebrate the season than to hike through our gorgeous scenery. No matter where you live, there’s a trail close by that is just begging you to take a walk on it.

Easy Hikes

Arcadia Management Area is the state’s largest recreational area, topping off at 14,000 protected acres. Located across Exeter, Richmond, Hopkinton and West Greenwich, you will find lots of even terrain, some slightly elevated trails, forested trails and opportunities to walk along streams, ponds, old stone walls, meadows and historic foundations. The 1.5-mile loop around Breakheart Pond is an easy hike and great way to get introduced to Arcadia Management Area. You can either stick to the main trail or venture off on to one of the many trails that connect to it. Whichever you choose, you’ll have beautiful views of the pond. Take Frosty Hollow Road to Hicks Trail, Exeter. 401-539-1052, riparks.com

Trustom Pond National Wildlife Refuge has 787 acres of federally protected coastal habitat. It’s an ideal place to go birding and see lots of native wildlife such as white-tailed deer, red-tailed hawks, snapping turtles and nesting ospreys, to name a few. There are multiple trails to choose from, so you can hike anywhere from .5 to 4 miles depending on your capabilities.

Take our word for it: the Farm Field Loop Trail to the Osprey Point Trail has the best view of Trustom Pond. And, because this is a coastal pond, you’ll have stellar views of the Atlantic and even Block Island on a clear day. 1040 Matunuck School House Road, South Kingstown. 401-364-9124, fws.gov

Are you citybound? No problem. Head to Lincoln Woods for the loop around Olney Pond. This paved trail is great for beginners, moms with strollers and those who want to run in nature. The just-over 3-mile trail has great views of the pond, some elevation to get your heart racing and connecting non-paved trails that lead further into the 627 protected acres. 2 Manchester Print Works Road, Lincoln. 401-723-7892, riparks.com

The Nature Conservancy’s Tillinghast Pond Management Area has 2,054 acres of protected land across West Greenwich. Along with pristine habitat comes an array of hiking options. Four connected loop trails give you the choice of a short hike or one up to 10-miles. The 2.3-mile Pond Loop offers easy, flat terrain around Tillinghast Pond. There’s even an observation platform located roughly halfway around the pond to give you easy access to wildlife viewing or a serene rest. Plain Road, West Greenwich. 401-529-1072, nature.org

Who says that you can’t have a nature retreat in the city? The Neutaconkanut Hill Conservancy in Providence proves that you can. Its 88 preserved acres contains the highest hill in Providence (at a staggering 296 feet above sea level), is the largest forested area in Providence and provides breathtaking views of the city from its hilltop meadow. Throughout its various trails you’ll find historic stone walls, brooks, geologic formations and woodland wildlife such as turkeys, deer and birds. Take the 1.5-mile Pinnacle Trail for the gorgeous city view. 675 Plainfield Street, Providence. 401-383-4711, nhill.org

A must hike is Great Swamp Management Area where you’ll see everything from nesting ospreys to dragonflies and American woodcocks. The 3,349 state-protected acres are chock full of habitats including a large wetland, forested parcels and wide open fields. Hike the 4-mile large loop to get a glimpse of all these habitats and the wildlife that live in them. Just make sure to wear adequate amounts of orange during hunting season. 277 Great Neck Road, South Kingstown. 401-789-0281, dem.ri.gov

A hidden gem in Middletown is Sachuest National Wildlife Refuge. The 242 federally protected acres provide excellent habitat for migratory birds and stunning ocean views no matter the time of year. The 1.4mile Flint Point Loop is complete with two observation platforms: one that looks onto Third Beach and the other that looks onto a rock formation where snowy owls are seen from the fall through spring. 769 Sachuest Point Road, Middletown. 401-847-5511, fws.gov

Powder Mill Ledges Wildlife Refuge in Smithfield is a great hike. The 120-acre refuge is home to the Audubon Society of RI’s headquarters. Stop by the visitor’s center, grab a map and hike the 2.9-mile loop that makes up the entirety of the refuge. You’ll pass over a brook near a pond and through pine stands. There are also plenty of stone walls that add to this quiet retreat. 12 Sanderson Road, Smithfield. 401-949-5454, asri.org

Another gem is Snake Den State Park in Johnston. Check out the northern part of this 1,000 acre undeveloped parcel where you’ll find beautiful rock formations and an overlook boasting beautiful forested views into Johnston and Scituate. The just over 2-mile loop gives you a serene escape into a mostly wooded reserve that abuts Dame Farm. Small parking lot on Brown Avenue, Johnston. 401-222-2632, dem.ri.gov

Moderate Hikes

Napatree Point extends 1.5 miles into the ocean from Watch Hill. This stunning 60-acre peninsula is not only a great beach excursion but also an excellent place to see a ton of wildlife. The polarizing piping plovers nest here in the summer, as well as the occasional American oystercatcher and spotted sandpiper. Napatree also hosts a nesting osprey pair and is a fantastic place to view migratory bird species in all seasons. Definitely bring a pair of binoculars to enjoy these species from a distance. Park on Bay Street, Westerly. 401-315-5399, thewatchhillconservancy.org

For another challenging yet beautiful seaside hike, head down to Charlestown to East Beach/ Ninigret Conservation Area. This barrier beach is three miles long, one way, and is truly a protected oasis. The parking area is small, and requires a parking fee during the summer season, so get there early. Once you get there you’ll have unparalleled views of the ocean with the ability to see Block Island on a clear day. Watch out for the occasional seal that rests on the beach, and give it plenty of distance. End of East Beach Road, Charlestown. 401-322-8910, riparks.com

If you don’t get out to Tiverton much, now is the time. Weetamoo Woods has 750 protected acres that includes a coastal forest, wetlands and 12 acres of grasslands, which is home to a number of birds of prey and nesting birds in the summer. The preserve has very well marked trails that will take you on a 7-mile journey. Of course there are smaller loops, but why not just take the day and explore this hidden gem. The Pardon Gray Preserve is also attached to Weetamoo Woods, another 230 acres of land with well-marked trails. East Road, Tiverton. 401-625-1300, tivertonlandtrust.org

Challenging Hikes

Our state doesn’t have elevation above 1,000 feet, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any “strenuous” hiking trails. Take Long Pond Woods for example. The jointly-owned 268 acres consist of the Red and Yellow Trail that snake around the pond. The beauty of this hike is in the contrast of habitats: lush forested valleys surround rugged bedrock ridges. Once atop the ridge, expansive views of the ponds and the surrounding landscape abound. There are lots of ups and downs on this hike, but each view is worth every step. North Road, Rockville. 401-949-5454, asri.org

Another challenging hike is Fort Barton in Tiverton. The 83 acres start off with a steep hike from the parking area, followed by a tremendous view of the Sakonnet River atop a lookout tower. Continue along the 3-mile red trail for plenty of ups and downs, wood bridges over streams and chances to see lots of wildlife. Intersection of Lawton Avenue and Highland Road, Tiverton. 625-6710, tiverton.ri.gov 

Care for an ocean view with your hike? Head to Norman Bird Sanctuary. Their 7 miles of trails on 325 acres covers everything from steep cliffs, vernal pools (where amphibians lay their eggs), stone walls, geologic formations, pond views and wildlife sightings. Hike along the Red Fox Trail to the Nelson Pond Trail for excellent birding and photographic opportunities. You’ll also get to view Hanging Rock, the highest point in the sanctuary, at a whopping 70 feet. 583 Third Beach Road, Middletown. 401-846-2577, normanbirdsanctuary.org

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