As I write this, it is very hot and muggy in Rhode Island. By the time you read it, well, my weather app shows it will still be hot and muggy. However, the first breeze of autumn air will blow through before we know it, and we will make our transition into fall.
If you are anything like me, you will be chomping at the bit to get out into the colorful landscape. Our deciduous New England forests will deliver a plethora of earthy colors and smells. My hooded sweatshirts will get pulled out of the closet to meet the demands of the cooler air. My favorite time of year is just around the corner.
There is no better time to get out into the Rhode Island woods than during autumn, at least in my opinion. If a little exercise sounds nice, or just a leisurely stroll in the crisp air, a fall hike might be exactly what you are looking for.
Rhode Island has many hiking trails that vary in style and level of difficulty. Our terrain ranges from rocky and hilly to flat and swampy and everything in between. The gear you bring and the clothes you wear should reflect the terrain you decide to traverse.
I have not hiked all of the trails and walkways around the state, or even most of them, but I will share some experiences and a little info about the ones I have made some treks on.
Carrs Pond in West Greenwich is an easy and pleasant hike. The trails are well maintained, and the pond is a popular swimming spot, though I am not sure if it is legal to swim there. I have, however, gotten lost on the trails more than once, and am often told the same from other people I have mentioned that to. It is a very worthwhile place to hike, but I would recommend looking at a map first, just to get an idea of the layout. The last time I went, I spent about an hour hiking in relation to what I thought was Carrs Pond, but turned out to be the nearby Tarbox Pond. Apparently that is a common mistake. Still, I would recommend the hike to families and loners alike.
Lincoln Woods off route 146 is a good place for an afternoon hike. It is a 3.4 mile loop around a really nice lake. You can go fishing, rent kayaks, climb boulders, ride mountain bikes and have a cookout. If you want to get off the beaten path, there are nice trails offering different levels of difficulty to hike in. I avoid the crowds in the summer, as it fills up like a state beach on a Sunday in July, but in the fall, you are good to go with little interference from others.
Various parts of Big River Management area in West Greenwich are some of my personal favorite to march around in, but are not exactly an easy day’s hike. The trails are not groomed in many areas, and the terrain is thick, swampy and rugged in many others. It is not the place to take the family for a leisurely stroll, at least in the parts I am familiar with, unless you are, or intend to be, a family of badasses. Okay, it is not that challenging, but I would say unpleasant for those who are unprepared. Still, it is one of my favorite areas to hike.
Hiking the cliffs of Fort Wetherill makes for a great scenic day on the Jamestown coast.
Goddard Memorial State Park in the Potowomut area of Warwick has a very easy and pleasant array of well-groomed horse trails, and is ideal for a hike with the kids.
Arcadia State Park in Exeter was really nice the one time I hiked there, except for the spider webs that stretched across the trail and engulfed my face with almost every step I took. I remedied this by holding a stick out in front of my face as I walked to catch the webs before my eyeballs did. This was where my friend and I went to warm up for a little outing on the Appalachian trail years ago.
The weight of your pack is crucial in planning for a hike Obviously, lighter is better when considering what to bring. Water weight, though heavy compared to most other things you’ll carry, is not the item you want to skimp on. Some trail food to boost your energy, clothes that are appropriate for the weather and duration of your hike, and the right footwear are all important considerations. I find that running sneakers are perfect for most conditions in Rhode Island other than in areas that are swampy.
You can find useful information on Rhode Island hiking trails at alltrails.com
. The info ranges from level of difficulty, access to fishing, whether dogs are allowed off a leash, reviews and much more.