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You’ll fall for these fall hikes (not literally, please) 

There’s nothing more beautiful than autumn in Rhode Island. Picture it: You’re wrapped in a cozy sweater, walking through the woods, gazing at the foliage, with a box of fresh cider donuts in one hand and your iced coffee in the other. 

For a little state, Rhode Island has no shortage of lovely hiking spots, many of which you can tackle in a couple of hours or less. If you’re willing to visit our neighboring states, you’ll find even more scenic gems. (I know: How dare I suggest you drive more than 10 minutes! It’s worth it, I promise.) 

Below are a few of my favorite local hikes, featuring stunning views from rocky ledges, boardwalks through marshy areas, and quiet New England bliss. I know you’ll fall for these places, just as I did — but hopefully not literally, as I did on a few trails.   

Wolf Hill Forest Preserve in Smithfield 

With approximately six miles of trails, Wolf Hill Forest Preserve is a charming forest hike that features maple and oak trees, vernal pools, a rock ledge, and an outlook with views of the Providence skyline (an old chimney/fireplace from a former Boy Scout cabin gives the outlook extra rustic flavor). If you choose the Mary Mowry Trail (green trail), be wary of how rocky and steep it is. One day last autumn, I fell head over heels on the trail; actually, it was knee-first into a rock. I bandaged myself up and continued for another five miles. Absolutely worth it. 

Old Furnace State Park in Killingly, Conn. 

The rocky outcrops of Ross’ Cliffs are the highlight of this Connecticut hike, which is perfect for Rhode Islanders who don’t like being too far from home. From the cliffs, 200 feet over Half Hill Pond, is an unobscured view of the eastern part of Killingly and into Rhode Island. A mix of deciduous and coniferous trees look especially stunning in the fall. Just keep a safe distance from the edge.   

Long Pond Woods Wildlife Refuge in Hopkinton

Another hike worth falling for is Long Pond Woods. At points during the 2-mile hike, you’ll have to scramble up some rocky, steep terrain, but the view at the top of Long Pond and the surrounding forest is gorgeous. The property, maintained by the Audubon Society of Rhode Island, is dotted with mountain laurel, rhododendron, oaks and hemlocks. It’s *chef’s kiss* 

Frank Knowles/Little River Reserve in Dartmouth, Mass. 

I love a boardwalk, and the Frank Knowles/Little River Reserve has three. The boardwalks, more than 200 feet long, offer hikers a rare chance to traverse over a red maple swamp and a salt marsh. It’s a magical time. As long as you have decent balance, your chances of falling into the marsh are slim, but on a particularly windy afternoon last year, I was almost swept in. The views were so pretty, I wasn’t even mad. 

Tillinghast Pond Management Area in West Greenwich 

A quintessential New England hike, the Tillinghast Pond Management Area includes six miles of trails that offer peace and solitude in the middle of the state. Winding around Tillinghast Pond, the trails include hay fields, forest, an observation platform out on the pond, a “boulder garden,” historic cemetery, farmstead, stone walls, a dam and more. This perfect fall hike is great for the whole family.  

No matter what kind of hike you’re looking for, be safe on the trails. Wear bright orange and bring water. While there are plenty of hiking apps, it doesn’t hurt to have a good ol’ fashioned paper map. Most of all, have fun and happy hiking! 

Mel Thibeault is the founder of Queer Hikes (@queer.hikes on Instagram). 

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