Rhode Island's best-known rail-trail, the East Bay Bicycle Path, hugs the shores of Narragansett Bay, from Bristol in the south and north to India Point Park in Providence. The 14-mile paved path accommodates a wide variety of users. Markers on the pavement every half mile help you keep track of your progress.
The trail takes you through an alternating landscape of stunning natural areas, as well as more urban enclaves. Spur trails lead to several parks and conservation areas, including Colt State Park in Bristol, Burr's Hill Park in Warren and Veterans Memorial Park and Haines Memorial State Park in Barrington.
In Bristol, watch for an intersection on the path marked by bike racks. Here, a path leads to the Rhode Island Audubon Society's Environmental Education Center. The center features a state-of-the art, fully accessible natural history museum and aquarium, as well as all-season guided tours, nature walks and special family programs.
Approaching Providence, you'll cross the Interstate 195 bridge to India Point Park, the path's northern terminus. The park, built on the rail bed and scrap metal yards in 1974, was originally a port for trading ships bound for the East and West Indies in the 1700s. After 1850, with the arrival of the rail line, it became a debarkation point for new immigrants to America. Train service on this route operated from 1855 until 1974. In 1900, the New Haven Railroad, which owned the line at the time, converted it to electric car service using overhead lines.
A 0.5-mile detour from the trail in Riverside leads to Crescent Park and the Looff Carousel. To get to the park, head east on Crescent View Avenue where it intersects the trail. A sculptural masterpiece of wood, the carousel features 62 exquisitely carved figures and four chariots. Dating to 1895, it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Parking and Trail Access
To reach the Colt State Park trailhead in Bristol, take Interstate 195 to State Route 114 south toward Bristol. In Bristol, turn right on Asylum Road.
To reach the Providence trailhead, take I-95 to I-195 east to the Gano Street Exit. Turn left into India Point Park. The trailhead is on the right; ramps lead up to the bridge where the path begins as a separated corridor alongside traffic.
There are many other places to park along the trail. The closest parking lots to the northern terminus are on Veterans Memorial Parkway in East Providence. Traveling east on I-195 from Providence, take the Riverside Exit. You'll find two parking lots on the right.