- Ben Utter Trail/River Trail – Arcadia Wildlife Management Area
- Plain Road, Exeter, RI
- Trailhead: 41°35’51.47″N, 71°44’48.16″W
- First Time Hiked: April 17, 2013
- Last Time Hiked: October 25, 2014
- Approximate distance hiked: 3.2 miles
- Easy with some rock scaling and slight elevation.
The Falls River at Stepstone Falls is easily one of the most scenic locations in Rhode Island and it is the highlight of this hike. It starts in Exeter just south of the town line, but the majority of the hike is in West Greenwich. The hike starts at a small parking area just after the second river crossing bridge along Plain Road in Exeter (approximately 2.3 miles west of Frosty Hollow Road). The trailhead is marked with a sign for the trail. I followed the trail, blazed both yellow and blue at this point, along the west bank of the river that had several log waterfalls. (The blue blazes are for the North South Trail). The trail also crossed a few streams on small wooden bridges, then heads up a small hill with stone steps almost immediately going back downhill to the right down some more steps. In this area there are remains of an old gristmill. I continued following the trail until it came out to a dirt road. The trail then immediately went right back into the woods, still blazed both yellow and blue. I then followed the trail through an area of mountain laurel and past the ruins of yet another mill. The trail then starts to turn away from the river a bit and climbs slightly uphill. At the next intersection I opted to take the trail to the right, with a sign calling it off as River Trail, blazed blue and white, back to the water. (The path to the left, blazed yellow, I would use on the way back). The rocky white trail eventually made its way to a bridge that crossed the Falls River at the bottom of the Stepstone Falls. After crossing the river and reaching the east bank, I turned left and followed the path to its end at Falls River Road stopping occasionally to venture to the edge of the river to see the falls. I then crossed the bridge at the road to the west bank and saw the yellow and blue blazed trail marked by signs for both Ben Utter and Tippecansett trails, but first I did some off trail sightseeing of the falls. After about 10 or 15 minutes of relaxing and picture taking I continued along the yellow and blue blazed trail uphill toward an old pavillion. At this point the yellow and blue trails split. I followed the yellow trail downhill through a wooded area that was a haven for woodpeckers. This trail came back to the intersection of the white/blue trail from earlier. I then followed the path to the slight right (almost straight) back onto the path, both blue and yellow blazed, and retraced my steps back to the car.
The Ben Utter Trail is the trail from the center right of the map to Stepstone Falls as shown on: Ben Utter Trail
This trail was featured in Rhode Island Monthly Magazine – October 2014