I blogged after my early July cycling vacation in New England that I would highlight some of the trails I rode that week. I just haven’t had much time to blog over the past few weeks. I had some time at lunch today and decided to blog about the East Bay Bike Trail in Rhode Island.
The East Bay trail gets a lot of publicity as one of the best cycling trails in the USA. USA Today featured it as one of the top 10 in the nation this summer. That drew my attention. My friend Rich’s beach house was a little more than an hour away. Given the review and proximately to our vacation home for the week, we set out to explore the trail one morning.
The trail starts just out of downtown Providence in India Point Park and heads east to Independence Park in Bristol. It pretty much hugs the shore of Narragansett Bay; wandering into wooded areas and small towns. We chose to start at India Point. Although this is a nice park, it is not a good starting point for your trip on this trail. The trail rises from India Point up a switchback ramp to the I-195 Bridge where you must cycle along a 3 foot wide chain linked corridor across the bridge. It was smelly, dirty, noisy and had very few places to let other cyclists pass. I would recommend that you use the trailhead on Veterans Memorial Parkway. It is a clean, shady park overlooking the city with ample parking. It was less than a mile from the India Point trailhead.
Leaving Providence the trail is pretty open and on the shore of the bay for several miles before it enters the woods for most of the remainder of the ride. When we reached Riverside, we came upon a free water stand run by the East Bay trail volunteer organization. They setup a tent and offer riders free cold bottled water during the summer months along with maps, tourist information and friendly chat. We were excited to ride off the trail and into town to see a restored carrousel in a beachfront park and a clam shack that was supposedly one of the best in Rhode Island. It was a mile detour but unfortunately the carrousel was closed for renovation and the adjoining clam shack also.
Continuing on we entered Barrington which appeared to be a somewhat upscale community. It was lunch and we set out to find a lunch spot. Alas, it was the Monday of Independence Day weekend and many local dining spots were closed. Residents told us the Thai restaurant here was excellent. It too was closed for the holiday. We’ll catch it on a return trip. We ended up eating at chain sandwich shop that was OK.
Just down the trail from Barrington was Warren, Rhode Island. As with many other New England towns, it had several empty imposing stone mill buildings along the trail and water. It appears that Samsonite was a major employer here at one time. There is an absolute required stop on this trail that you need to make in this town. The Fruity Cow made delicious smoothies with yogurt and fresh fruit. It was a perfect stop for a super hot day.
The trail ends another 4 or so miles east in Independence Park in Bristol. We did not explore Bristol much. It looked like a pretty interesting town with many shopping and dining options. There were several restaurants bordering the trail and the bay front park. We turned and headed back west to Providence. It was an enjoyable vacation day for sure. The ride with some of our detours added up to about 31 miles.
My final comments on this trail are that it is indeed one you need to put on your must-cycle list. It is asphalt paved and is expertly maintained. There were mile markers, directional signs, plenty of diversions, nice scenery, and nice small New England towns along the way. There was no elevation changes at all. It’s pretty flat. New England is just a beautiful place to cycle. I’ll give the trail a rating solid “A” for its grade. It goes on my personal top 10 trails list.