Few places in the Northeast are more ideally suited to bicycling than Block Island, where curving country lanes pass rugged bluffs and magnificent vistas alongside sweeping pastures and meadows. There are about 40 miles of road, most with mild grades as no point on the island is higher than 250 feet; there are a handful of reasonably challenging hills and bluffs, however. There really aren’t specific bike trails per se, but all of the island’s roads are appropriate for cycling. The self-guided Block Island Bicycle Tour, which hits many of the island’s highlights, is particularly fun. Bringing a bike over on the ferry is easy and inexpensive, and there are several businesses on the island that rent bicycles by the day, week, or the hour.
The Block Island Bicycle Tour
Perhaps the most fun and convenient way to experience Block Island’s beaches, bluffs, and bird sanctuaries is by bicycle, an eco-friendly and widely accepted mode of transportation for island visitors and locals alike. In 2014, the Block Island Tourism Council teamed up with so-new.org (a Southern New England tourism group) to create the Block Island Bicycle Tour, a self-guided, 7.5-mile loop that includes nine stops at island landmarks and attractions at the southern end of the island, with an option to extend the tour by 8.5 miles with three stops on the north end.
Each tour stop is marked with a station signpost; look for a blue and yellow bull’s-eye marker with a QR code at the center. Cyclists can use their cell phones to scan the QR code, allowing them to access a short informational video about each stop on the route along with a tour map directing them to their next destination.
The tour includes many of the island’s highlights, beginning at the Visitor’s Center directly adjacent to the ferry landing, (where you can also pick up a paper map of the tour route if you’d rather not use your phone), and continuing on to Abrams Animal Farm and the historic Springhouse Hotel, where American icons from Mark Twain to the Kennedy family have enjoyed the view from the enormous veranda. From there the route continues on to the Southeast Lighthouse, the spectacular Mohegan Bluffs, and Painted Rock, an island tradition that began in the 1960s and continues to this day. This first leg of the tour will take you on to Rodman’s Hollow nature preserve, and concludes at Dead Eye Dick’s, a former piano bar with great seafood and one of the best sunset views on the island.
More ambitious cyclists will want to follow the route to its end by continuing on to marker number 9 at Fred Benson Town Beach, then on to Great Salt Pond, a popular spot for kayaking and paddleboarding (several marinas here offer rentals), or simply enjoying the plant and animal habitat of the marshes. From here, continue another two miles north on Corn Neck Road to check out North Lighthouse, the northernmost point on the island. The area behind the lighthouse is a National Wildlife Refuge, with sandy paths and amazing ocean views.
The tour ends at marker number 12 in Old Harbor, where you’ll likely want to reward yourself with a treat from one of the many restaurants and shops on Water Street.
Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Rhode Island.