Twenty-eight miles of walking trails, acres of open space, a haven for fish and wildlife, it’s no wonder Block Island was named one of the last great places in the western hemisphere by The Nature Conservancy.
More than 43 percent of the island is preserved, and walking is an excellent way to take in the rolling hills, lush farmland, and stunning vistas. Look for peregrine falcons and red-tailed hawks in the sky, ring-necked pheasants and American woodcocks among the abundant wildflowers, and seals perched on beach rocks. Block Island is renowned for its beauty and commitment to preservation. Once you visit, you’ll understand why.
Be sure not to miss:
- Clay Head Nature Trail offers walkers unparalleled views along the northeastern shore of the island. Accessed by a dirt road leading off Corn Neck Road just two miles from the beach pavilion, the path meanders along the bluffs before ending at Settlers’ Rock. Branching off this main trail are several other smaller interconnected trails known as The Maze, one of the island’s many superior birdwatching spots.
- Rodman’s Hollow is a wild and beautiful cleft in the rolling terrain left over from a melting glacier. Hawks, deer, and all manner of trees, wildflowers, and other vegetation populate the hollow. Walking trails lead to Black Rock.
- Mohegan Bluffs, to the west of the Southeast Lighthouse, provide a magnificent coastal view. On clear days it’s even possible to glimpse Montauk, New York, some 20 miles away. There is a wooden staircase that leads to the beach below. The climb down and back is challenging, however, and the footing at the bottom is extremely difficult. That said, the beach has to be among the world’s most spectacular.
- Abrams Animal Farm offers a diverse collection of exotic and domestic animals maintained by Justin Abrams, whose family owns and operates The 1661 Inn and Hotel Manisses. Visitors to the farm can view and pet llamas, emus, sheep, donkeys, goats and more. There are even kangaroos, camels, lemurs and a zedonk (zebra/donkey).
- Ocean View Pavilion is a comfortable sitting area near Old Harbor that offers stunning ocean vistas. Maintained by the Ocean View Foundation, the area marks the spot where the magnificent Ocean View Hotel once stood. The Foundation runs environmental education programs for children and adults year round.
- Walking Trails crisscross the entire island. The Greenway is a web of trails that connects miles of natural habitat and provides memorable hikes for visitors. The Enchanted Forest, the Turnip Farm, the Dodge Cemetery, and the site of the Old Mill are just a few of the natural features to be explored in this walker’s escape. Among many other worthwhile hikes is the one that takes you through the gorgeous Hodge Family Wildlife Preserve toward the end of Corn Neck Road.
- The Nature Conservancy, on High Street, provides a wealth of information about the island’s wildlife and plants. Stop by to pick up trail maps or bird checklists and find out about nature walks and other free programs.
- Beach Paths take you through the dunes to the beach all along Corn Neck Road and elsewhere on the island. Take care to stay on the paths and protect the island’s delicate sand dunes.
- Coast Guard Beach One of the best places to find seals in the winter, and often spring and fall, Coast Guard Beach is also a terrific spot for surfcasting and exploring all manner of marine life — not to mention watching the ships and boats heading in and out of the harbor through the cut.
- Block Island Maritime Institute runs summertime daily educational programs on aquaculture, marine science & exploration, and maritime heritage from its center in the New Harbor (next to Dead Eye's restaurant), which also is where you'll find their popular touch tanks, squid dissection workshops, harbor tours, and Tuesday evening seminar series.