Despite being the nation's smallest state, Rhode Island is made up of a diverse array of landscapes that have a lot to offer hiking enthusiasts, including inlets and bays on the Atlantic Ocean coastline and rolling hills covered in dense forests. If you're in the Ocean State but need to escape civilization for a while, consider exploring one of the five hiking trails we've covered here as some of the best in the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (RI's long, official name) based on recommendations from Trails.com and the Nature Conservancy.
Sakonnet Greenway Trail
At 10 miles in length and traversing forests, wetlands, active farms, and recreation areas, the Sakonnet Greenway Trail is the longest nature hike on Aquidneck Island. This hiking trail runs through mixed woodlands and offers great opportunities to see coastal birds such as egrets, herons, and ospreys.
Dundrey Brook Trail
The Dundrey Brook Trail is a wooden boardwalk that runs for just over a mile through several coastal wetland habitats, including woodlands, open meadows, and swamps. The diverse landscape along the Dundrey Brook Trail treats hikers to seasonal changes that supports a wide variety of birds, mammals, and amphibians throughout the year, including deer, wild turkey, and migrating birds.
The Walkabout Trail system offers hikers three loops to choose from to explore the George Washington State Campground and Management Area, including thick woodlands, Richardson Marsh, and Wilbur Pond. The 2-mile, 6-mile, and 8-mile hiking Trails were blazed by Australian sailors in the summer of 1965 and begin at the Bowdish Reservoir beach, a great place to sunbathe or go swimming.
The 6.7-mile Arcadia Trail runs through the Arcadia Management Area, Rhode Island's largest protected wilderness known for its dense, mixed forests, and hikers often see wild rabbits, turkeys, and game animals while exploring. This out-and-back trail winds through freshwater wetlands past several named ponds and the Wood River, one of Rhode Island's best trout streams.
Cliff Walk is a scenic 3.5-mile trail along the eastern shore of Newport, Rhode Island, that offers spectacular views of the dramatic, rocky coastline and famous seaside mansions built during the Gilded Age. Hikers are treated to unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean almost every step of the way along Cliff Walk, and they are almost guaranteed to see many kinds of coastal birds.