Hiking in Rhode Island, as with anywhere else in the world, does present its fair share of hazards that you should be aware of. In Rhode Island, hunting season starts in mid September and continues well into the spring. Hunting is allowed in all state management areas and several Nature Conservancy and local Land Trust properties throughout the state. Wearing the proper attire while hiking is not only suggested, but mandatory in these areas. Please click the link below for more information.
Please note sections 10.6 and 11.6 of the RI hunting regulation on requiring the use of orange vests and hats on State management properties and other properties where hunting is allowed.
10.6 All users of State Management Areas and undeveloped State Parks are required to wear solid daylight fluorescent orange during appropriate seasons.
11.6 Fluorescent Orange Requirement: Fluorescent orange safety clothing is required during the hunting season statewide for all hunters. To meet this requirement, safety clothing must be solid daylight fluorescent orange. Fluorescent camouflage does not meet this requirement. The hunter orange must be worn above the waist and be visible in all directions. Examples that meet the orange requirements are a hat that covers 200 square inches or combination of hat and vest covering 500 square inches. The following orange requirements apply:
11.6.5 Five hundred (500) square inches by all hunters and other users (including archers) during shotgun deer seasons.
11.6.8 All other users of State Management areas and designated undeveloped State Parks, including but not limited to: hikers, bikers, and horseback riders, are required to wear two hundred (200) square inches of solid daylight fluorescent orange from the second Saturday in September to the last day of February, and the third Saturday in April to the last day in May, annually.
In recent years the wildlife population has been making a resurrection in Rhode Island. Animals like bears, mountain lions, and bob cats have been reported throughout the state. Coyotes and foxes have been common as well. Most wild animals are harmless to hikers in Rhode Island. They are in fact just afraid of you as you are of them. However, an animal protecting its young or food source may become aggressive. The animal may also become aggressive if it is rabid or feels cornered. It is best to avoid wild animals altogether when hiking.
Insects can also pose a threat to hikers. Ticks carry Lyme disease and ticks are very common in Rhode Island. Be sure to check yourself (and your pets) thoroughly after any hike. In the late summer into the fall mosquitoes can carry diseases as well. West Nile Virus and EEE are the two most prevalent diseases that mosquitoes in this area carry. Avoid hiking near dusk when the threat of these diseases have been confirmed in mosquitoes. Bug spray is suggested for both ticks and mosquitoes.
Leaves of Three, Let Them Be… another hazard in the area is poison ivy and poison oak. These annoying plants will leave you scratching if you come in contact with them. The best way to avoid it is to stay on the trails and avoid touching plants.
New England is also quite famous for its weather. One day it could be 60 degrees and the next could be snowing. Spring tends to be damp with rain and showers occasionally. The trails in areas will tend to be muddy. Summers have been hot and dry as of late. An occasional thunderstorm will disrupt an afternoon hike. Fall makes New England famous. The leaves turn bright reds and oranges in mid October into early November making for some unbelievably beautiful hiking. Winter varies from year to year. Some winters have been very mild with only a few snow storms and others have been relentless with northeasters and blizzards. Snowshoes are sometimes required in the winter months. Be sure to always check the weather before departing into the woods.
When venturing out into the woods be sure to be prepared. Bring plenty of water especially on hotter days or longer hikes. Be sure to wear good and sturdy shoes and layered clothing. Maps and GPS devices are always suggested especially in areas that are large and sprawling. Bug spray and sunscreen are always suggested as well. Cell reception is relatively good in almost all parts of Rhode Island. Always keep a cell phone on you in case of an emergency. 9-1-1 is used statewide if you need to call the authorities for an emergency. Understanding maps and trail blazes is recommended.