The smallest state in America, Rhode Island, is located in New England. The state is bordered by Massachusetts to the east and north and Atlantic Ocean and Connecticut to the south and west, respectively. Despite its small size and the fact that there is no single mountain in Rhode Island, the state has several interesting locations for mountain bikers. The two major regions that are natural for mountain biking are the coastal forests in the western part of the state and the Narraganset Bay’s lowlands.
Below is a list of Rhode Island’s best ten mountain biking trails, their characteristics, and what category of people would find them interesting.
1. Big River
Big River, also known as Carr Pond, is located in the warm town of West Greenwich in Rhode Island. Acquired initially to build a reservoir, which never came to fruition, the park is home to some of the best mountain biking trails in Rhode Island. Sitting on over eight thousand acres of land, the park welcomes droves of mountain bikers, day in, day out looking for adventure and seeking to explore the outdoors.
The trails here are multi-purpose, as bikers, hikers, and runners alike can be found using the packed dirt trail. Each trail constitutes a unique challenge. Bikers will find berms, jumps, roots, multiple stream crossing, and several other impediments along the path. The courses are marked according to their difficulty levels; beginner trails are marked blue, intermediate trails are marked green, and the more advanced trails are marked black diamond.
The trails at Big River Park are a job of many years of logging trucks going in and out of the park for wood. Every year on Earth day, volunteers help maintain these trails by cleaning the debris that accumulates throughout the year. The trails are open to riders of all levels and skillsets.
2. Burlingame State Park
Burlingame State Park has, over the years, built a reputation as a place where mountain bikers, irrespective of expertise or gear, can feel at home.
Sited in Charlestown, Rhode Island, the park has just less than 20 miles of solid singletrack. The most popular trail in this park is the Yellow Dot Trail, also known as the “King of Burlingame Race Loop” or the “Vin Gomery Trail”.
The trail does not disappoint as it runs west and then north, forming a loop around the Watchaug Pond and giving a fantastic view of the pond. Technical spots, daunting climbs, protruding roots, and some rock gardens are some of this loop’s significant features. For an advanced rider, however, this trail is smooth sailing. Another trail that is worth a try is the North-South Trail, an intermediate-rated trail spanning about four miles. For families, there is a five-mile loop with a double track that is easily navigated.
On Wednesdays, there is a weekly group ride, where locals and regular riders come together to ride through the park to give new riders here a feel of what the trails have to offer. If you plan to visit the Burlingame State Park, a Wednesday would be just the right day to explore this gem of a park.
3. Lincoln Woods State Park
Around the nineteenth century, the land where Lincoln Woods State Park now stands was farmland, whose many trees were the mainstay of the state’s blossoming forest industry. As a result, many of the trails there were once wood logging routes. Compared to most locations on this list, the park’s size is relatively small, but it more than makes up for its small size with quality trails, among the best and most technical.
Located in Lincoln, a town with a lot of history behind it, the park is perhaps, the most popular mountain biking location in Rhodes Island and maybe the entire east coast. Although the trails vary in difficulty, the vast majority of these trails is difficult and should only be attempted by accomplished bikers. There are trails suitable for beginner and intermediate riders too.
At the heart of the park is a deep water lake, the Olney Pond, which adds to its beauty. The trails are packed close together, and each offers its unique blend of stream crossings, jumps, drops, switchbacks, and innumerable rock gardens. The uphill climb is something of a legend and should only be undertaken by those who have absolute confidence in their bike handling skills.
4. Prudence Island
Located in the beautiful Narragansett Bay, Prudence Island is the largest island in the state. With more than half of the island under permanent conservation, the scenery is breathtaking, and it’s a perfect getaway spot for families and leisurely bikers who wish to take in the fantastic view while they ride. There is no bridge connecting the mainland to this island, but the good news is that a ferry service conveys people visiting the island every day from Bristol town.
The trail here is about 7 miles long and up to 1.5 miles wide at some points. For the most part, the terrain is flat and gentle, a beginner’s dream ride. Kids will love this place because there is so much to see and so little to distract you. Although there are many rocks and berms, they do not constitute much difficulty, only there to spice things up. What is a mountain bike trail without obstacles?
The most beautiful thing about Prudence Island is the serene and peaceful environs. Putting that in context, there are only two policemen in Prudence. It’s a sort of paradise, which can be explored using a bicycle. After the day’s ride, you (and your family) can check out Marcey’s, the only convenience store on the island. However, the one flaw on this island involves the presence of numerous deer ticks, which could cause Lyme disease. If you stick to the marked routes, then there is nothing to worry about.
5. Diamond Hill State Park
Located in the city of Cumberland, the first thing you notice while riding the Diamond Hill State Park is that all of the park’s courses are downhills. The park is divided into two segments, the first being the ski hillside, which consists of singletrack and a few hiking trails, while the second segment is made up of the various downhill trails that this park is famous for.
Bikers of all ages and skill levels would find the park accommodating. There are four downhill trails that all begin at one trailhead. Each trail, however, has a different level of difficulty. The Diamond Hill Trail is the most frequented here, spanning 5.6 miles; the tail incorporates beautiful scenery, wildflowers, and many lakes. Every trail has several berms, jumps, and other hurdles that keep the ride as exciting as any other. There is also a pump track, which significantly reduces the risk of injury associated with challenging paths and affords the advanced rider an avenue to hone his downhill and dexterity skills. Bikers should check before visiting as the park closes during periods of bad weather.
With over 14,000 acres to its name, the Arcadia Management Area is the largest outdoor recreation area in Rhode Island, bar none. The site is open to horseback riders, hunters, hikers, and generally anyone looking to take a slice of the outdoors.
The 40 miles of trails open to mountain bikers can be slightly confusing to a first-timer here, but the graveled paths are well marked. The ride can only be as long as the biker wants it to be, with an option to explore all 40 miles or make a few loops thoroughly. The 10-mile long Breakheart Trail is suitable for intermediate bikers with its mix of streams, hills, and natural obstacles. More experienced riders can tackle Mount Tom, a 6-mile long trail with fast downhill and steep uphill.
Because hikers and horseback riders also use these trails, all trail etiquette should be observed. All trail users are expected to wear blaze orange during hunting season.
7. East Bay Bike Trail
As the first bike trail in the entire Rhode Island, East Bay Bike Trail deserves mention on this list. The 15-mile trail begins in India Point Park in Providence and terminates in Independence Park in Bristol. Apart from one hill, the terrain of this hill is mostly flat.
The route gives an incredible view of Narraganset Bay and the nearby Bristol village. Meandering through many-storied villages and almost touching the river at some points, as you begin to approach Bristol, the Audoban trails popular among hikers come into full view.
The ride is leisurely and without much fuss, allowing you to take in the beautiful landscape around the East Bay. The bridges are currently closed, meaning you will have to use the auto bridges to get to the second half of the trail. Every biker would enjoy this trail and its fantastic scenery.
8. South County Bike Trail
The South County Bike Trail is an 8-mile long trail that begins at Kingston Train Station, going through Peacedale, and stops at Mumford Road in Narragansett.
The trail is divided into two sections; the northern and southern areas. The southern part is urban and passes through a bridge covered in murals. The northern section, on the other hand, is quite the opposite and courses through several swamps and wooded areas. Bikers who manage to make it to the end of this trail will see the Indian Run Reservoir. The topography is gentle and very flat.
The ride here is as comfortable as most of the others in Rhode Island. Suitable for anyone who can balance their weight on two tires, this trail is especially ideal for those looking to make their first forays into outdoor biking. Although the trail is a bit long, it is gratifying, as different birds make their presence felt on this trail.
9. Woody Hill
Four conserved areas combine to make up what is now known as Woody Hill. The Westerly Municipal Land Trust and The Woody Hill Management Area take up a large chunk of the area. Simultaneously, the Narragansett Indian Tribe and the Westerly Land Trust make up for the remaining part of the area.
For an area just a mile away from the ocean, you’ll be astonished by the amount of climbing involved. As is typical with other places in the New England Region, there are several small streams here and beautiful forests. The trails here are relatively recent, as construction only began in 2017.
As beer is deeply ingrained in mountain biking culture, each trail in Woody Hill is named after a locally made beer. The trails range from short, flowy hills to technical paths that only the most accomplished bikers can take on. One sure thing is whatever your bike handling skills are, there is a trail made for you here.
10. Colt State Park Loop
While some people refer to the Colt State Park Loop as an extension of the earlier mentioned East Bay Bike Path, it is, in fact, a different trail of its own. Short and comfortable, the loop, located in Bristol, measures a little less than 4 miles. It was private property on the bayside that the owner permitted the public to use for outdoor recreation. When he passed away, the state acquired the property.
The loop is relatively easy and child-friendly, there are a few challenging spots here and there, but overall, it is best suited for beginners. The trail is appropriately groomed and courses through the Gut Salt Marsh and other wooded areas. On the route is a big stone cow barn. Great for those seeking to build their confidence and short on time but still need to take a ride.
Rhode Island does not possess the rocky terrains that most other states in the union do, but it does provide a good enough list of mountain biking trails to keep you smiling. Explore the beautiful scenery that dote the island, the forests, birds, and many lakes and streams. Enjoy the serenity that comes with riding through nature. Whether you are going solo, with a group, or with your family, you should visit these trails.