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The Washington Secondary Bike Path offers just over 19 miles of paved trail from Cranston (Providence’s southwestern neighbor) to Coventry. The rail-trail, Rhode Island’s longest, follows the former Hartford, Providence and Fishkill Railroad. Although sections of the trail have their own distinct local names—Cranston Bike Path, Warwick Bike Path, West Warwick Greenway, Coventry Greenway, and Trestle Trail—the overall experience is seamless. The trail is also part of the expansive and developing East Coast Greenway, which connects paths throughout New England and all the way down to Florida.
Locals will tell you that the farther west you travel on the trail, the prettier it gets; their advice rings true, so a nice place to begin your journey is in the middle and then head west for a well-shaded and scenic ride. (You could also start at the west end and ride toward the middle to enjoy a slight downhill grade.) This western half has a rural feel to it and includes a parallel bridle path.
The eastern half of the trail is more urban in flavor with residential and commercial areas pressed close alongside. This Cranston end of the trail is not as well maintained, and though it serves as a useful route for residents, tourists may not find it as appealing.
A good mid-route starting point is the trail parking lot adjacent to Horgan Elementary School in West Warwick. (Riverpoint Park, also located in this area but a touch farther from the trail, is another option.) Be sure to take a moment to check out the bright red New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad caboose on display at the east end of the school complex; while it’s only 200 feet from the path, the sight lines are such that it can be easy to miss. Once on the path, head southwest, wending through the heart of West Warwick. From here to the west end of the trail is an 11-mile ride.
Although numerous street crossings occur along this section, each is well marked and most are across smaller secondary roads with little traffic. These crossings also provide a convenient way to step off the trail and grab a bite to eat or hit a restroom—useful options since there are few amenities along the trail itself.
As you enter Coventry, you’ll find yourself sharing the trail with bikers, joggers, dog walkers, families with young children, and leisurely amblers—and it’s no wonder that the trail is so popular, as it’s smoothly paved and surrounded by tall trees. The nearby Pawtuxet River has a sinuous route, so you’ll cross it a couple of times on beautiful bridges with nice views.
As you traverse Coventry, look for a short section of preserved railroad track that parallels the trail; a trailhead kiosk here provides information about the trail’s history. Continuing west, you’ll have views of Flat River Reservoir, a recreational hot spot for fishing and boating. Farther on, the trail travels through fern-covered rock cuts and the tree canopy gets thicker, for a cool, pleasant ride.
At Hill Farm Road, the route pops out of the trees into a more open area with a few houses and small businesses nearby. You’ll find a large parking lot adjacent to the trail and more interpretive signage on railroad history. From here, it’s only another 3.5 miles of riding to where the trail stops unceremoniously at a wall of brush. There’s another large parking lot at trail’s end, which is helpful if you’ve coordinated a pickup, and a general store with drinks and snacks to refuel.
Trail advocates hope to one day extend the trail another 6 miles west to the Connecticut border, where a connection to the Moosup Valley State Park Trail awaits.
To start in West Warwick at the parking lot adjacent to Horgan Elementary School, from Providence, take I-95 S to Exit 12B for RI 113 W in Warwick (about 9 miles from the downtown area). Go 0.6 mile on RI 113 W, and turn left onto Bald Hill Road. In 0.7 mile, turn right onto Toll Gate Road. After 0.5 mile, veer left onto Providence St. In 0.8 mile, turn right onto Hay St. (You’ll see the red caboose from the intersection and will be turning toward it.) Take an immediate left onto Junior St. and look for the entrance to the trail parking lot on your right. (The school will be on the opposite side of the street.)
To reach the west end of the trail in Coventry, take I-95 S from Providence to Exit 10B for RI 117 W. Take RI 117 westbound 2.6 miles, then turn right onto Main St. and make an immediate left onto Warwick Ave. to remain on RI 117. In 0.6 mile turn left onto Washington St./RI 117, and continue 9.9 miles to Old Summit Road, on which you’ll turn left. The road becomes Log Bridge Road, and in 0.2 mile, you’ll see the trail
We parked our car in the lot on Garfield Avenue, and rode 19 miles from the Cranston end to Summit, where we ate lunch at the General Store before heading back to Cranston. Compared to my home bike path, the heavily traveled Minuteman Bikeway, the Washington Secondary Path was mellllllowww, on a GORGEOUS June Sunday. I kept expecting crowds. None, just the occasional friendly rider, who usually waved and said hello.
As noted, the Coventry half is in better shape than the bumpier Cranston side. There are several ice cream places, ballfields, parks, and water views. I found porta potties between the tennis courts and ballfields near the Horgan School in West Warwick and one in a small park towards Coventry. No restroom at the trailhead so plan ahead.
Rode from the Coventry Trailhead to Cranston on a warm, sunny day. Overall the trail is pretty nice with shading from nearby trees. There are some sections that need paving repair due to bumps forming in the pavement (probably nearby tree roots). Most of the roadway intersections were fine, but may be challenging on a busy day. One intersection is notably "bad" due to its layout (Providence St (Rt-33) & Toll Gate Rd (Rt-115)). This may be a good place to get off your bike and walk this intersection (see the google street view).
We didn't have time to try out the western end of this trail, but may come back in the future for it.
The length of the trail is terrific, and the Coventry section (~9 miles) is wonderful, with a bridal path, lakes, pine forests, wooden planked bridges and very well maintained.
I started in West Warwick, ~ half way through the end-to-end, and first 2 miles were a bit sketchy for a single woman riding alone, but I got over my discomfort quickly. It was very easy to find the Horgan Elementary School and the trail right behind the school - plenty of parking.
It's an excellent path, especially the more rural Coventry section. I can't wait for the final 5-mile extension to Connecticut to be done in a few years! There's also a possible mile or so extension into Providence coming in the next several years.
The trail surface needs a little attention along some of the older parts in Cranston through West Warwick, like the East Bay had earlier this year, but overall not too bad.
For a returnee to the bike riding crowd, I found this trail to be a hidden gem. Does not have the scenic views of the East Bay Bike Path but what it does have more than compensates.
So we started in Cranston. It was a of an bit urban feeling but that did not last long. It quickly assumed the characteristics of a rural bike path. Layered canopy overhead with woods, swamp lands and the occasional home or housing development.
Challenge? Oh yeah. The almost slight constant uphill kept me pedaling. Could we coast some ways? Yes, but not for long.
So after a hour and some 45 minutes we achieved the terminus in Coventry.
We sat having snacks and talking with other bikers. I made mention of the complaints on this forum about the 'conditions' of the path. (I always mention TrailLink to others when biking!)
I found the path to be in excellent shape. Were there some slightly overgrown areas, yes but it did not block progress or impede a view at all.
The return trip was AWESOME!!! There is about 3 to 4 miles of a constant downhill grade. We hit a high speed of 21MPH without even trying. For this first 4 miles, our average speed was 17.6MPH. For the next seven we averaged just over 13MPH.
Even with killer cramps that stopped me short at the 34 mile point (lost 15 minutes) and 37 mile point (lost 10 minutes), it was a great ride an worth the 38+ mile effort.
Hard to find and not well maintained
Checked this out today to see if my wife would enjoy it...the good news is she will! Her 'complaint' about the East Bay trail was that it felt narrow (compared to the Shining Sea trail in Falmouth).
This is nice and wide w/ one exception where they give notice that it narrows (and even then it's still pretty wide).
The last 3-4 miles in Coventry had a steeper incline than the rest of the trail. As a result, I think when I bring my wife (not an avid rider) I'm going to park behind the Coventry PD (near Station St.) and head south first to get the incline out of the way and then head back up north past the PD as far as she feels comfortable.
At the southern end, the Summit General Store was a good stop. I didn't get anything to eat at the counter, just some trail mix and cold drink but it was convenient. I did see several folks stopping in for lunch while I was sitting there.
Nice ride with shade and some pretty spots. Ponds, railroad bridges, tunnels. Go from urban to country. East/west has incline all the way but ride back quick.
The rail trail starts at the back end of a Security Company parking lot, goes behind the back of Lowes in Cranston RI and continues down the side of the Kmart towards Coventry, RI. It is uphill heading west, and the first few miles are rather industrial. As previous write ups indicate the east end of the trail has a few root bumps, but is certainly no worse than the average road in New England and is certainly better than most of the roads in the greater Boston metro area and can be ridden with a road bike. It passes the impressive factory at RiverPoint with some nice views near Arctic Village and onwards as you head into Coventry. At the far end there is a rather remote general store, but that's about it. If you want to stop off, it's probably best done in Coventry exit at route 117 it's just over 4 minutes ride along 117 to Main Street shops and bars.
Its really great. I just wish the piece toward conn would be somewhat improved
We tackled the Washington Secondary trail on inline skates. Starting from the Eastern end, parking was easy, the trail was pleasant, and in decent shape. The section in Warwick has significant root bumps that take attention. Road crossings are generally good, although one entering West Warwick had a big lip down to the road. In West Warwick, there was one 20 yd area that we had to walk around, the pavement was so poor. But, the high bridge over the old soap factory also gave one of the best views on the trail. Then, the last 9 miles is smooth and excellent except the 3 wood bridges which are older and very bumpy). At the end is the Summit General Store with great sandwiches, drinks and bales of hay if you want to take one home.
So, what's the take away? We wouldn't repeat the Eastern half of the trail - too many hazards. We'll certainly do the Western end again, when it's not too hot!
I live in Cranston and have ridden this trail many times. It has some very picturesque areas, in particular, the mills in Warwick, the Coventry Greenway, and the trestle trail. It's length is very good - doing a round trip gives you 38 miles of riding.
People call this the West Bay trail - never heard of the "Washington Secondary Bike Path". Unlike the start of the East Bay trail in Providence, it is easy to park at the start or along the route at either end.
However, there are a few areas that need work. Portions of the trail in West Warwick are in great need of resurfacing (there are a number of large frost heaves), and the Cranston trail needs resurfacing in some areas as well, as it is aging.
As forecast before, I returned to ride the final 4.5 miles to the end of the paved rail at Summit. This was the best section of all. My legs noticed the climb to the west although my eyes didn't. But the return eastward was noticeably easier. After the biking part, I drove around west to the crossing of Lewis Farm Road, which is the last road crossing in Rhode Island. On aerials, I had noted a bridge west of Lewis Farm Road and realized that you can just see it from the road. So, I walked the short distance to the bridge and took photos both across it and from below. It's a somewhat high former railroad structure, now decked for trail use. It's used both by the Trestle Trail part of the bikeway and by the North South Trail, a hiking trail. It crosses the Moosup River. So, it looks like there are no bridge type gaps west of Summit, but the surface west of Summit still needs work.
I've been investigating this trail as it is part of the East Coast Greenway. My first trip began at the east end in Cranston. The east end of the trail is a little short of the former rail junction with the Northeast Corridor within view of a Dunkin Donuts. Going west, I followed good paved trail for eight miles through two tunnels and over several bridges to West Warwick. There are several parking lots along the way as well as at West Warwick. Also at West Warwick is a former New Haven Railroad caboose. One thing about starting going west is that the return is downhill.
My second ride was about seven miles each way from West Warwick to Coventry Center and return which is also on paved trail and delightful. It included a third tunnel and is more rural. I plan to ride the final four miles to Summit next week. At Summit, the paved trail ends abruptly at a parking area that is within sight of the Summit General Store - good for sandwiches, soda, and ice cream. The final five miles to the state line is not yet developed and looks better as a hiking trail. There is a nice historical marker at the road crossing at Greene. The twenty miles east of Summit is a nice ride and appears to be quite popular. This trail needs to be extended further west.
We started at the Coventry end point. Parking for about 10 vehicles. The trail is clean, newly paved and shaded. Several crossings were encountered but they are safely marked. From Coventry you go down grade so be prepared to return upgrade. We only went 10 miles out and returned. Good workout.
We decided to ride from Coventry Trestle Trail to the West Warwick Greenway which was around 10.5 mies one way and we enjoyed the entire ride. Met Great people along the way but admittedly did not venture further East on the trail. Can't wait until they expand the path further West to the Connecticut state line.
The trail is very flat and fast. I have never encountered any problem individuals, but can understand the concern. Time permitting, it is worth heading westward for a very quiet and green ride. After work I load the bicycle and know exactly how much time there is to ride before dusk makes it less safe. It's a good workout; I can cover 7-10 miles each way before it's time to stop for the evening. Take plenty of water and some snacks or a sandwich or two if you attempt a longer ride.
The eastern section of the trail is fine but not the most scenic and it crosses a few roads. I can understand why the person with young kids was dissuaded. If you are in the same boat, pick one of the parking areas further west on the trail and go from there. You won't be disappointed!
The Washington Secondary Bikeway is four connecting rail to trail conversions in Rhode Island. The Cranston Bike Path, The Warwick Bike Path, the Coventry Greenway and the Trestle Greenway.
Riding the rail to trail converted bike way is a great way to meet people and strike up conversations. Today was no different on this ride of just under 40 miles. A conversation with a man riding his electric assist bike was cut short when I happened upon a man walking his very shy Airedale, Max. I told the owner that I had a miniature version, a Welsh Terrier. As he looked over my bike he mentioned that he rides a motorcycle with a sidecar for Max. The sidecar is equipped with a safety belt and Max rides proudly wearing his leather helmet and goggles. When Max is riding in his sidecar you can envision him, when he sees another dog saying, “look at me. I’m the prince of the dog kingdom”.
Read the whole review and watch the video by copying and pasting the link below.
Rhode Island has a new longest bike trail. the
Washington Seacondary trail noe extends from Sumit General store in coventry though it, end in cranston.it now also boast appox. 6.3 miles of a horse trail
My family (children 9, 10 and 14) attempted to ride this bike path, but turned around after 3 miles and ventured to East Bay.
We just didn't feel very safe on this path.
We began behind Lowes and had ridden about 3 miles when everyone stopped and requested that we try a safer bike path.
No problems were encountered along the way, but the path had a very urban feel to it.
Perhaps the trail becomes better and safer further on, but we decided to call it a day on this trail and head to East Bay.
The path itself, was well maintained. I just felt as though I'd be safer carrying a weapon.
Two stars for the fact that we made it out and the quality of the pavement.
My husband and I tried this trail for the first time after not haviing ridden in quite some time (me, not him) and found it very easy and well maintained. We rode from Cranston to West Warwick. We parked at Lowes, but noticed many other small lots along the route...does anyone know how to find out how to get to these other lots? There were no street signs, and they dont seem to be listed anywhere. Next time we plan to go to the rest of the way into Coventry.
My husband and I rode this trail a few weeks ago. We started in West Warwick and rode west all the way to the end. This is an easy trail with hardly any inclines. It is also very scenic.
The only concern is there are quite a few places where the trail crosses main roads so you must be very careful.
Looking forward to an opportunity to ride the trail east from West Warwick.
This fall ride shows off the character, color and small town New England charm.
It's around 30 miles round trip and it's a very interesting ride through some old mill towns of Rhode Island. These mills were built of local stone and all of them have fast moving rivers with man made waterfalls which I suppose were used for power as well as a disposal system for the mill waste. They were owned by men who immigrated from England for the most part which explains their resemblance to Castles of that country.
The complete write up with photos can be viewed at my bike blog by copy and pasting this link into your browser.
This is nice ride to do after work. Nice and easy, Can be busy on the weekends like all bike paths. Along some parts the trees and brush need to be cut back. Slight incline from East Ave,south to West Warwick but it can be a nice down hill ride on the way back. There are three ice cream stops along the way. One in Coventry and two in Cranston, right next to the path. Nice view along the bridge that goes thru Bradford Soap in West Warwick. Some sand and stone along the Cranston side that was washed out by a recent storm. The posititives out wiegh the little negatives. Enjoy!!
November 11, 2010 this entire trail, from Providence -to- Connecticut state line, was one section of my bike ride beginning on the East Bay Bike Path in Warren, R.I. and ending in Moosup, Connecticut. The connection from East Bay Bike Path was actually very short and easy(I used Cranston Street). The beginning of this trail is behind a Lowes Home Improvement, it is paved all the way until Coventry. The paved section had some cool tunnels, bridges and a soap factory which had a very pleasant smell. The soap factory is located within a historic mill building next to the Pawtuxet River and is worthy of a photograph. I saw very few people using this trail the further west I rode, and finally the pavement ended and the 'real' adventure began. The trail basically remains straight and the forest comes closer in, the trail surface is compacted dirt, gravel, some sandy areas and alot of moguls. The forest is very dense and there is beautiful water features along the way. There are several bridges, some without decks where you either carefully go over them or take a easy detour by following the atv tracks. Where the trail goes under Route 102(Victory Highway) it is basically flooded year round with 1.5 feet deep water and several inches of mud under that. The two sides of trail here are very steep cliffs. I found a 3 ft wide cut-out on right side(heading westbound) which you can climb up, go over stone wall at top and head left towards Route 102, you will be on a atv track which heads accross street to the other side where it descends back to the trail at a dry area. About two miles further again there is a flooded section - just follow atv tracks which run parallel to trail until rejoining it beyond flooded area. I set up a tent and slept on the RI/CT state line about 200 ft off trail. I heard atv's riding around the area until late at night. At the RI/CT state line is a large sandy area where the atv's ride often and they also use the rail-trail. The riders that drove past me were young teenagers, they did slow down and wave. The trail in this section is very sandy however I did not have to get off the bike once. My trip continued into CT until the trail ends in Moosup, I thought the scenery was excellent in CT where the trail runs along the Moosup River, there is a large waterfall, rock cut-outs, bogs, swamps, hills. Upon my return heading back I was in the middle of the forest, far away from any civilization and came upon a herd of friendly goats!! It was a fun trip on the mountain bike, very peacful and quiet forests with beautifull water features. Please don't ever pave this section!!
I tend to ride very often and when I do, my route of choosing involves the Washington secondary. Heading east from Coventry, you get to see a few mills (Concorda, Royal Mills and Bradford Soap Works), pass alongside and over natural water features, and be no more then eye glance distance away from civilization. There is room for improvement: extending the Cranston terminus further north in Providence (as stated before, it terminate alongside Garfield ave before merging with Amtrak's Northeast Corridor right of way, and the paving of the greenway between the West Warwick town line and station street in Coventry (which is currently underway, excepted to be complete by June 2010.
typical of all rhode island trails, the washington secondary (does anybody know the origin of this name?) is well-maintained, clearly marked, and thankfully, not over-run with enthusiasts (yet). it's certainly the most urbanized trail i've encountered...you literally have to ride 10 miles until you hit any semblance of remote
countryside. but, what it lacks in pretty scenery it makes up for in gritty post-industrial revolution realism. this should be quite the destination when it extends all the way to connecticut
"If you like riding on a very well maintained asphalt trail through a deep ditch, this is for you. The trail runs through a lot of abandoned industrial areas and is mostly much lower than the land around it--hence no views. However, the most interesting thing on the trail is a soap factory that is still in use. You actually smell it several hundred yards before you ride by it. All-in-all, a long ride that begins in a K-Mart parking lot and ends in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, it is supposed to run to the Connecticut line and connect with trails there."
Started west without knowing how far I could go. road this trail to the Trestle trail.
Only one heavy traffic road crossing on rt.117. It has a light with crossing button.
Great. If you have a Mt.bike and want to do some serious off road you can continue like I did westerly on the Trestle trail.
"The bikeway has been extended all the way up to Cranston Street on the northern end of the trail. You can see the old Narragansett Brewery – looks like they are either fixing it up or tearing it down since there is a lot on construction going on.
From this starting point you can ride almost all the way up to the Coventry Bikeway on a good tarred surface.
This trail grows on you; the more I ride it, the more I like it. With the additional sections and the near complete linkage to the West Warwick, Warwick, and Coventry Bikeways, this trail has started to move towards the top my list of trails to visit regularly in Rhode Island.
"The Cranston Bike Trail is a pretty good ""neighborhood trail."" Residents living close to the area have a good place to ride bicycles, jog, roller-blade and walk.
There are one or two scenic areas on this path, but the vast majority of the trail is fairly uneventful. This is not necessarily a bad thing since most residences are probably there to get a good workout and not to sight-see.
The trail surface is a few years old and still in really good shape.
Much of the trail is sandwiched between a major road and houses. There are a number of road crossing; only one or two are major crossings.
There are no obvious restroom facilities.
The trail connects to the Washington Secondary Bike Trail at the Cranston-Warwick Line. The Washington Secondary Trail connects to the West Warwick Bike Path and then to the Coventry Bike Path. Eventually this linkage of trails will extend to the Connecticut border.
Overall, this is a good Bike Path, but mostly a neighborhood use path verses a path to travel to on vacation. It is not to say the path is not worth trying out, but after the first visit, it will probably be a path that you visit every few years verses a path that you visit a few times a year."
This trail is right near my campground and I love it. I was so happy to hear that it will be extended in the near future. It is very well cared for and seems very secure. It makes RI an even nicer place to vacation.
"I was only able to find a short stretch (maybe 2 miles?) of paved trail. There was only one parking lot on Station St in Coventry, just North of Main St (117)."
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