Anytime you want to hear about a happy memory, ask someone about the day they first brought their family pet home. Here’s mine: our German Shepherd puppy was hand delivered to us on Christmas Day 2011 by “Santa” and his assistant in a bright red pick-up truck. He was immediately christened Klaus in Santa’s honor and because Klaus is fun to say with a German accent.
Before we knew it, Klaus grew from a floppy-eared cutie into a majestic beast, weighing in at 120 pounds, with energy to match his size. Meaning he had to be walked multiple times a day. Walks down my dead end street rapidly turned boring. Vowing not to walk beside busy roads, five years later, we have developed a menu of walking options. So, here is my list of the top five places to walk your dog in Rhode Island.
1. Goddard Park, Warwick. You can walk your dog here often and never get bored because the park has not one, but two entrances with miles of trails, most with water views of Greenwich Cove. However, our all time favorite walk begins at the beach parking lot. Head up the trail in the middle of the woods, take a left at the pond, continue towards the beach, turn left and you will find yourself on top of a cliff overlooking Narragansett Bay. Follow this cliff walk back to the parking lot. Hearing the waves lapping the beach below, feeling the wind in your face and seeing the smile on your dog’s face is a great way to start the day. But be forewarned, Goddard Park turns into a bouncy house convention packed with family picnics between Memorial Day and Labor Day on the weekends.
2. Rocky Point Park, Warwick. Talk about “before” and “after”, this park was once filled with Rocky Point Amusement park ruins locked behind chain-linked fences. You could enjoy distance views of the Jamestown and Newport bridges and the Aldrich Mansion, but the rotting rides and buildings gave the place a haunted, sad feel. That has all changed now that the ruins are cleared out. The place is jaw-dropping, stunningly beautiful open meadow and the view is panoramic. It is so tempting to let your dog run off leash, but there are lots of joggers and walking groups here who do not care how friendly your dog is, they do not want to be sniffed or worse. No matter what, the view here is worth the trip out to Warwick Neck.
3. Rhode Island Bike Path, Coventry: Maybe you are familiar with bike path entrance next to the Kingston train station. One of our favorite places to park is by the Coventry public library on Flat River Road. From the well-marked parking lot, the path leads to scenic reservoir views where you will swear you’ve been magically transported to New Hampshire.
4. India Point Park, Providence: Timing is everything so weekday mornings, you will see families at the playground and lots of joggers here. History buffs can enjoy strategically placed signs detailing how this 18 acre site began in 1680 as Providence’s shipping port. If you are feeling ambitious, you could even walk over the bridge to the start of the East Bay bike path. Klaus is content to walk the park’s graceful paths.
5. 1-295 Welcome Rest Area, Lincoln: This suggestion may seem out of left field but did you know there is a RI State Police station here? I would like to ask some questions like why did the Dunkin Donuts leave and why must people use porta potties instead of the rest rooms inside, but I digress. This is a branch of the Blackstone Bike Pathway where you walk down a long hill to a roaring waterfall. Granted walking back to your car involves a steep uphill climb but the fresh air and birdsong win over adjusting incline levels on the treadmill at the gym.
Dog Etiquette: Mutt Mitts provide double layer protection to clean up after your dog. I carry a box in my car along with doggie treats and a water bowl. No one wants to step in “it” so please clean up after your dog. Also, meeting other dogs on the trail often entails one dog owner to ask “Is your dog friendly?” meaning can the dogs stop for a friendly sniff. Klaus is very protective so I always say “no” and step away from the trail 1 to 2 feet and have Klaus sit until the other dog passes by 10 to 20 feet. All this requires your dog to be on a leash. This is not optional. Klaus was once attacked by two unleashed dogs. Fortunately, he wasn’t hurt, but he is offended and agitated by dogs off leash. I don’t blame him.
More Walk Ideas: Barrington Books Retold sells The Rhode Island Family Hiking Guide and Journal by Jeanine Silversmith. This book has 42 more potential walks for you and your dog.
*This post originally appeared on the blog in the Spring 2017.