Rhode Island is known as the Ocean State for a reason. However, there is much more to our tiny little state than just its beaches. We also boast a 100-mile network of trails in which to hop on a bike and just pedal. Because of this extensive network of trails, or paths, we also offer a green alternative in transportation. Pretty much all of the trails run along some body of water, whether it be the bay, a lake, or one of the rivers. Either way, the views are quite pleasant and the rides are quite serene. Let me discuss a few of the more popular ones in the state, and I pick these because they have the most to offer.
East Bay Bike Path
This is a 14.5 mile ride in one direction that runs along an old abandoned railroad line. I have yet to make it the full distance, but the majority of the path runs along or near the shore of Narragansett Bay from India Point Park in Providence to Independence Park in Bristol. If you are starting in Providence, there is plenty of parking. Take 195 East to Exit 4 (Riverside/Veterans Memorial Parkway) and just follow Veterans Memorial Parkway until you see parking on the right. There is a wonderful view of Providence and Providence Harbor. You don’t have to start at one end or the other, though. There is plenty of parking in between if you want to just do a specific section of the path. After all, if you went from one end to the other, that would be a 29 mile bike ride.
If you start your East Bay ride in Bristol, or at least make your way to that end of the trail, you can look forward to a nice ride through the Audubon Society of Rhode Island. This section of the path is very peaceful.
The East Bay bike path is open year round from sunrise to sunset and consists of 10 foot wide asphalt with dividing lines. Be careful of walkers on this path. In my experience, they like to walk in packs and take up the entire 10 foot width. Most people are very considerate of each other on the path, but there’s always those few that have no regard for everyone else using it as well. If you run out of water, don’t worry; you can easily access the main roads from the path. If you’re out for pleasure, definitely bring a camera for the views you will see.
Blackstone River Bikeway
This is currently a 11.5 mile ride that starts in Woonsocket and travels south through Cumberland and into Lincoln. Ultimately, this will end up being a 48 mile ride that will run from Providence to Worcester, MA when completed. For now, though, bikers get to enjoy the scenic view along the Blackstone River that includes a wildlife habitat in the Lonsdale Marsh section of the bikeway. Bikers can possibly enjoy seeing Eastern screech owls, ducks, and migratory heron, swans and ospreys.
Eight parking lots are available for use along the bikeway with the central parking lot being located on route 295N between exits 9 and 10.
The Blackstone River Bikeway provides wonderful views of bridges, dams and old mills that the area is known for, and is a very popular path for bikers in the state. This is the second longest bike path in the state and has plenty of areas to just stop and rest or enjoy the surrounding views.
Washington Secondary Bike Paths
This is the third largest bike path in the state, extending 10 miles from Cranston through West Warwick and Warwick. It’s not the most scenic ride, but if you’re out for some exercise this path is generally flat with a few small inclines here and there.
The path runs along a former rail way and passes through some very heavily populated areas, but there are some really nice views of old mills and the Pawtuxet River. There is also easy access to shopping along the path. Don’t worry, the path is still off road, but it doesn’t provide the scenery that the other two popular choices provide. The Washington Secondary bike path is very functional and still provides great exercise.
There are numerous other paths to bike in Rhode Island, but these three definitely have a lot to offer, especially if you are looking for scenery and distance. When you get into some of the parks like Lincoln Woods, it can get quite crowded with walkers and vehicles trying to access the park. Lincoln Woods is small, but the inclines provide great exercise if you don’t mind looping around a few times, or creating your own path in the woods to try some real mountain biking like I prefer.