Cliff Walk – Newport
- Cliff Walk
- Memorial Boulevard, Newport, RI
- Trailhead: 41°29’6.60″N, 71°17’51.21″W
- Last Time Hiked: November 11, 2014
- Approximate distance hiked: 7.1 miles
- First section is easy and mostly paved, last part moderate to difficult.
The Cliff Walk is easily one of the most visited “trails” in Rhode Island. It is one of Newport’s premier tourist attractions with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean on one side and some of the nations most famous mansions on the other. The first part of the walk is the most heavily traveled as it is paved and suitable for most people. The later parts of it, you will find yourself scrambling over rocks along the shore. I started this walk from Memorial Boulevard just west of Eastons Beach. The paved path first meanders along the cliff above Easton Cove. In the distance you can see the Sakonnet Point Lighthouse as well as Sachuest Point. I soon came to Forty Steps. The steps lead down toward the water for a view from below the cliff. On days with high waves and sometimes at high tide you may get a little wet. Continuing on, I made my way through the Salve Regina University properties. Here I came across several sections of fence with padlocks on them. A closer look, I realized the meaning of them. A clever modern day way of expressing your feelings for loved ones. I also came across some very old and creative brickwork at one of the stairways. The craftsmanship of yesteryear is quite impressive. After passing the two large and magnificent university buildings, including Ochre Court, I made my way to The Breakers. Quite possibly the most famous of the mansions, The Breakers, with its limestone walls and red tile roof, was built in the 1890’s by the Vanderbilt family as a summer home. I then came to Ochre Point on the back of the Breakers property before making my way through the large wrought iron gates at Ruggles Avenue. The next section of the walk is along a concrete walk with a fence right along the water. Along this section, the walk juts out to a point featuring a round, predominantly glass structure. The view here is wonderful in all directions. At the one and a half mile mark I came across the first section that was not a walkway. For a few hundred feet I had to traverse over fairly flat stones. Beyond that the walk is a combination of flat rocks, dirt paths, and paved paths for the next three quarters of a mile or so. On this section you can get a glimpse of the Rosecliff mansion. Just after Rosecliff the walk goes to the right, up some stairs, and then around an ivy covered building on the left. This building, the only directly on this side of the walk, was built as an artist studio. The next landmark is the Chinese Tea House on the Marble House property. It is a replica of a Song Dynasty temple. The walk continues through a tunnel under the Tea House. At this point you are at the two-mile mark. The remainder of the walk becomes progressively more difficult. After passing through the tunnel the walk continues for a bit to a second a shorter tunnel at Sheep Point. The last “easy” section passes in front of the Miramar mansion. A plaque at the end of this section reads “Rough Terrain Ahead”. From this point to Ledge Road is moderate to difficult. It is advised not to do this section if the rocks are wet as they become very slippery. I decided to proceed slowly for two reasons. The first as to watch my step, and the other to stop and take in the views. The ocean views are breathtaking along this stretch. The walk continues pass Rough Point, the former summer home of Doris Duke, to a bridge over a chasm that waves crash into. Along this section, to Lands End, and pass Ledge Road the trail is marked with an occasional bronze disk imbedded into the rocky shoreline. At Lands End, an aptly named peninsula, you may be able to see Point Judith, Black Point, and Narragansett Pier if the weather is good. After making my way past Ledge Road the walk continues to its end at Baileys Beach. After reaching the end I turned around and retraced my steps.
Trail maps and information can be found at: Cliff Walk.