- East Bay Bike Path – North
- India Street, Providence, RI
- Trailhead: 41°49’4.58″N, 71°23’29.93″W
- Last Time Hiked: January 30, 2016
- Approximate distance hiked: 5.8 miles
- Fairly easy with some slight elevation.
Most people who ride their bikes or walk the East Bay Bike Path have no idea that they are passing through hundreds of years of history. This walk is not just 6 miles on a 10 foot wide paved path with great views of the water, but more of a tour of yesteryear. Starting at the picturesque Providence waterfront, the northern portion of the East Bay Bike Path leaves India Point Park and zigzags uphill towards the Washington Bridge. Over the years there have been several bridges built over the Seekonk River. The first built in 1793 was a covered drawbridge. The newly built George Redman Linear Park occupies what remains of the 1931 span. The bike path crosses the river through the linear park. There are several informational boards located here with history of the bridges and surrounding neighborhoods. After crossing the bridge, the bike path snakes down to Watchemoket Square in East Providence. Prior to the highway being built, the square was a bustling center of commerce and local government. It served as a crossroads where Taunton Avenue (Route 44), Warren Avenue (Route 6), and the railroad once met before crossing into Providence. The square was very active in the second half of the 19th century and well into the 20th century. Most of the buildings in the square were wood frame buildings like that at the corner of Warren Avenue and First Street (currently the Watchemoket Tavern). The most predominant building remaining in the square was built in the early 1920’s. The Neo-Federalist designed building served as a bank for several years and is now the home of the Comedy Connection. Most of the remaining buildings in the square were torn down by the 1960’s with the construction of Interstate 195. After crossing Warren Avenue, the bike path follows First Street for two blocks before turning right and along Veterans Memorial Parkway. This short section, about two tenths of a mile, is the only stretch of road walking/biking. Be sure to be aware of traffic. The next mile or so, the bike path first climbs up Fort Hill, past an overlook, and along the parkway before making its way to a former railroad bed. The fort on the hill, with others in the area, protected Providence during the Revolutionary War and The War of 1812. As the bike path climbs the top of the hill just before the lookout, you can see the Fort Hill Monument across the parkway. It is a large boulder near the intersection of Mercer Street. As the bike path winds around the first parking lot along the parkway you now have a good vantage point of the Providence skyline. The buildings of downtown, Rhode Island Hospital, the Manchester Street Power Plant, and the I-way bridge are all clearly visible from here. In fact, as of late, at 8:30 every evening people have been gathering here to shine their lights in the “Good Night Hasbro” event along with several other businesses in the area. The bike path next passes an area that is currently under construction. This will be the future home of The Village on the Waterfront. It is one of two major waterfront developments being built under the revitalization of East Providence’s waterfront. Both of the developments were once used for oil storage tanks and will soon be mixed residential and commercial areas with access to the shoreline. The bike path then bends to the right, passing the second parking lot along the parkway, and downhill as it descends to the waterfront. The remaining distance of the bike path all the way to Bristol now follows the rail bed that was once used by the Providence, Warren, and Bristol Railroad. As the bike path begins to follow the old rail bed, you are now on a causeway and are surrounded by water. To the right is the Providence River and the Port of Providence. You are very likely to see very large cargo ships docked here. To the left is Watchemoket Cove, the first and largest, of three coastal coves along this part of the bike path. All three of these coves are havens for swans and geese. Blue herons and cormorants among several other birds have been seen in these coves as well. After passing the first cove, the bike path passes over Kettle Point. To the left is the second major development along the East Providence waterfront. This development will be predominantly residential as it replaces another former oil tank farm. Just as you approach the next cove, there will be a future trail to the left that leads to Squantum Woods. The bike then crosses another causeway. After passing the aptly named Long Rock Cove to the left, you come to a series of buildings on the right. They belong to the Squantum Association, and the largest and most predominant building is the clubhouse. This building built in 1900 replaces the 1873 structure and is used for weddings and receptions. President Arthur and President Taft have attended events here. The bike path next passes the third coastal cove. This cove, with its long dock, is part of the Boyden Heights Conservation Area. Just after the cove there is a trail that leads into the property. The trails here are short and would add a nice little hike to your walk. Just after the trailhead the area to the left once hosted two amusement parks. Boyden Heights Park, opened in 1904, and Vanity Fair, opened in 1907, along with Crescent Park further south gave this area the nickname “Coney Island of the East”. Both of these amusement parks were closed by 1910. The next portion of the bike path continues to follow the waterfront and soon the Pomham Rocks Lighthouse becomes visible. The lighthouse sits on one of two large rock islands and was built in 1871. Recent restoration has saved the lighthouse and the island can be visited a few times per year. From here you will catch your last glimpse of the buildings of downtown four miles away. Next the bike path passes under Bullocks Point Avenue and comes out to Riverside Square. This was another bustling village back in the day, complete with a railroad station built in the mid to late 1800’s. Other buildings in the square also date back to yesteryear, but the most visited building here is the Dari-Bee, a local ice cream shop that is open from the spring to the fall. There are also a few “Mom & Pop” shops here as well including convenience stores for water or snacks. Also in the square in the Riverside World War II Memorial. It was originally located further up the road and was relocated to the square in the early 2000’s. The bike path, flanked by bird filled shrubs, then continues south passing through residential neighborhoods before coming to Bullocks Cove. Looking north from the causeway crossing the cove you can catch a glimpse of Little Neck which is home to one of the oldest cemeteries in the nation. The cemetery, established in 1655, serves as the final resting place of several colonists including one who was a passenger on the Mayflower and the first mayor of New York City. The cemetery is not accessible from the bike path however. The bike path then crosses Crescent View Avenue. If you so choose, follow Crescent View Avenue west to its end. There is the 1895 Looff Carousel, the only remaining structure of the once bustling Crescent Park Amusement Park that closed in the 1970’s. After crossing Crescent View Avenue, the bike path passes through another residential neighborhood, a small playground, and another small cove before reaching Haines State Park. This park, on the East Providence/Barrington border was established in 1911 and offers areas for picnics, ball fields, a dog park, trails, and access to the water. This is also where I decided to conclude this walk. The bike path continues another 8 miles to Bristol passing through Barrington and Warren. That will be a walk for another day!
Trail map can be found at: East Bay Bike Path North.