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Happy Trails: Your Guide to Hiking in the East Bay

5 Rhode Island trails ready for beginner to experienced hikers

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Down on the Boardwalk at Dundery Brook Trail in Little Compton

This Rhode Island hike is easy for beginners

Dundery Brook Trail, Little Compton
Difficulty: Easy
Distance: 1.1 miles

Dundery Brook Trail in Little Compton shares its parking area with the town’s tennis courts and recreational fields, so parking is easy and plentiful. The trail is located within the John C. Whitehead Preserve, which is managed by The Nature Conservancy.
Starting at the parking area is the Boardwalk Trail, which provides 0.6 miles of an ADA accessible trail, ideal for persons with disabilities. It also provides optimal viewing of the intact forested and wetland areas without damaging any habitat, meaning wildlife can go about their usual routine without being disturbed. Connecting to the Boardwalk Trail is the half mile Grass Trail that hugs the edge of Bumblebee Pond and ends in a lovely meadow.

As far as wildlife sightings, painted turtles can be found in the pond, while snapping turtles are often seen along the brook. In the winter, otters and fishers are also likely to be seen. In the meadow along the forested edges is where you’re bound to see white-tailed deer at dawn and dusk when they’re most active.

Meetinghouse Lane, Little Compton.
401-331-7110,
Nature.org

Hit the Pavement with Mount Hope Farm in Bristol

A paved hiking trail perfect for beginners

Mount Hope Farm, Bristol

Difficulty: Easy  
Distance: 1.25 miles

Located right off of Metacom Avenue is Mount Hope Farm. There’s plenty of parking and some paved trails perfect for total hiking newbies, families with young ones in strollers or folks looking for a leisurely stroll with their leashed dogs. It’s nearly impossible to get lost on the property: the paved roads are well-kept and there are stunning views throughout, like the Church Cove overlook with expansive views of Mount Hope Bay.

As you mosey along you’ll see a variety of habitats (ponds and hay fields) and historic structures (Cove Cabin, Governor Bradford House, North Pasture Guest House and South Pasture Guest House). Feel free to take a break in one of the historic houses, admire the antiques and catch your breath.

Walk up to any of the pens near the historic barn to view the playful goats, clucking chickens, fuzzy donkeys and wooly sheep. Because they’re also curious, they’ll usually come right up to the fence.

250 Metacom Avenue, Bristol.
401-254-1745,
MountHopeFarm.org

Hiking a Fields of Dreams at Caratunk Wildlife Refuge

An easy hiking trail for the beginner or experienced hikers

Caratunk Wildlife Refuge, Seekonk 
Difficulty: Easy  
Distance: 5 miles

Caratunk Wildlife Refuge is an easy first foray into the great outdoors. It’s managed by the Audubon Society of RI, which is responsible for the preservation of roughly 9,500 acres across RI and MA.

Once you arrive at the easy-to-find parking area, stop by the large white barn. Inside the office you’ll find trail maps and a list of activities permitted on the refuge: hiking, photography, nature study, snowshoeing, bird watching and cross-country skiing. Pets aren’t allowed, neither are jogging, picnicking or camping. The red trail is short and sweet, taking about 20 minutes to complete. It runs along field edges and peeks into forested areas. Both the blue and yellow trails take a bit longer, an hour each, and give you an opportunity to fully explore the forested and wetland habitats.

Open sunrise to sunset, the trails are well marked and relatively level, there are even guided walks throughout the year. They wind through fields, wetlands and forests. Because it’s a refuge in the truest sense of the word, it’s a place to seek serenity and enjoy the preserved open space. Staying on marked trails ensures the refuge remains intact for its wildlife inhabitants. In the summer, birds nest throughout the property, and in the fall more migrate through on their way down south.

301 Brown Avenue, Seekonk.
401-949-5454,
ASRI.org

A Walk in the Woods at Pardon Gray Preserve and Weetamoo Woods

A medium difficulty Rhode Island trail

A Walk in the Woods

Pardon Gray Preserve and Weetamoo Woods, Tiverton 
Difficulty: Medium 
Distance: 9 miles

Although they’re managed by two different agencies, Pardon Gray Preserve (Tiverton Land Trust) and Weetamoo Woods (Town of Tiverton) combine to protect 780 acres of land. The trails pass through level grasslands, gently sloping forests and seasonally wet lowlands. Wearing sturdy hiking shoes or boots is important to avoid twisted ankles and to easily traverse rocky areas. 

The Pardon Gray Preserve is located right off of Main Road, which leads to a dirt road and parking area. The trailhead here is surrounded by active farmland, original stone walls and a stone kiosk that covers an old well house.

The Cemetery Trail (purple trail) begins at this parking area and connects to the yellow trail, the western boundary of Weetamoo Woods. Heading south on the yellow trail eventually connects with the red, orange, blue and green trails of Weetamoo. The yellow trail also terminates on East Road, into one of the Weetamoo parking areas.

The East Road lot can be a little tricky to find while driving. There’s a white hand painted sign at the intersection of East and Asa Davol roads that’s easy to miss if you’re exceeding the speed limit. Once you park, walk north on the path (yellow trail) to the Weetamoo Woods kiosk. There you’ll find a map of the property as well as common birds that make the conservation area their home in different seasons.

Parking lots located on East Road/Asa Davol Road Intersection, Lake Road, and 3460 Main Road, Tiverton.
ExploreRI.org

Break a Sweat with the Sakonnet Greenway Trail in Portsmouth

A difficult Rhode Island hike that's full of gorgeous sights

Sakonnet Greenway Trail Portsmouth
Difficulty: Difficult  
Distance: 10 miles

The Sakonnet Greenway trail is the longest nature trail on Aquidneck Island. The paths were created in partnership with private landowners who have agreed to limit developing their properties to preserve the natural quality of it. Unlike many of the other trails in the East Bay, horses are allowed on many of the paths.

As you hike along the Sakonnet Greenway Trail, you’ll pass through active farmlands, vineyards, wetlands, forests and recreational areas like the Newport Polo fields. You’ll even cross streets to continue along the path, designated with a blue crosswalk. At every major crossing you’ll find a kiosk indicating where you are along the Greenway, as well as a map of the entire system.

There are many loops to explore as well as long treks. The Middletown Southern Loop (yellow trail) at the southern end of the Greenway has easy access at the Wyatt Road Soccer Complex and is a fun hike on its own. The trail even passes by Newport Vineyards, a perfect place to stop for lunch. For a more challenging excursion, continue onto the Middletown Northern Loop (green trail) to tack on a few more miles.

At the northern end of the Greenway, start at The Glen near the Newport Polo fields, cross Sandy Point Road and complete the Portsmouth Loop Trail. Heading south and passing through the Newport National Golf Course will connect you to the southern loops.

Portsmouth.
401-849-2799,
AILT.org