A few posts ago, I mentioned that Mrs. Suitcase (a.k.a. Mrs. SOC) and I took a trip on a rail trail over in Rhode Island. Well, there are a few great rail trails in the Ocean State, but perhaps the best of them all is the East Bay Bicycle Path. Like all rail-trails, by definition, this path follows the route of the old Providence Warren & Bristol railroad going (can you guess?) from Providence, through Warren and ending in Bristol, a distance of a little over 14 miles. It's "mature" in that it's well-signed, protected at intersections, and, best of all, paved. Click on the link above for more info.
The first time we rode this route many years ago, we started at what I considered to be "the" starting point: Providence. You don't go to the end of the line and ride back, right? Best to start at the beginning. Here's a map of the route.
Problem is, while "the beginning" is decent enough being in Providence's India Point Park, the neighborhood isn't all that great and you have to go over a highway bridge and follow a couple of local streets before you get to the path. The bridge is pretty cool and has a dedicated bikeway, but it'll feel mighty sketchy to most folks - having tractor trailer rigs blow past you at 70 miles per hour about 5 feet away is not for the faint of heart.
So we drove down Rt. 114 to Bristol and Independence Park. This option takes away some of the "a-ha!" discovery moments you'd otherwise get (since you'll parallel, cross and recross the path several times along the way), but Bristol is much nicer and there are a lot of nice restaurants around for before or after your ride (don't miss the nice public facilities across the street!).
Starting in Bristol this time around would have been the PERFECT choice but for one minor detail. We went on Memorial Day and unwittingly became a part of every parade in every little town along the way. That wasn't all that bad, but once we got to Independence Park, the real fun began. Follow along our journey through the pics below . . .
Once we got there, we had to unpack the car. Yes, two road bikes and all the fixin's came out of Mrs. SOC's Solara.
This is the view from Independence Park. Sheer heaven - we were blessed with a BEAUTIFUL day. A great way to spend the unofficial beginning of summer.
Right near the beginning of the path, headed north. As always, you can click the pic for a larger view - and if you click this one, you'll see a restaurant at the bend of the trail, far in the distance. They have outdoor seating and LOTS of bike racks!
A pretty typical view from the path along the way. Narragansett Bay. It's views like this that make the East Bay path so incredibly popular.
And you get water on both sides. This is the view away from Narragansett Bay - one of many little inlets and coves you'll pass along the way.
The EBBP has been around for a while, so its railroad heritage has mostly disappeared. Fortunately, there's still one station standing along the way. This is in Warren.
This is the Pomham Rocks lighthouse, out in the Bay, just south of Providence.
Interesting juxtaposition of path, railroad, mansion, bay and industry. These elements are very common near the north end of the line. The mansion? That's a "clubhouse" built by the Squantum Association back in the late 19th century. You can rent it for weddings, if you can afford it. Absolutely beautiful though, if pricey.
Nearing the end of the path - City of Providence in the (far) background.
While the EBBP goes all the way into Providence (and will eventually link to the Blackstone Valley path which heads northwest out of the city), I wouldn't recommend going beyond the parking lot/park along the Veteran's Memorial Parkway at the end of Mercer St. in East Providence. It's a little park of some kind (unfortunately, I don't know it's name), but there's parking there and some nice space. We took this shot of our bikes at that point. Just a little further north of here, there's a nice long descent to an abrupt end of the path (it dumps you onto a local street). So there's not much reason to go further.
Here's a better view of the Providence skyline from that (unnamed) park.
Heading back south, don't miss the bike shop - "Your Bike Shop" in Warren.
The East Bay Bike Path makes for a great 28 mile round trip on a car-free road. The towns through which it passes are great examples of old industrial New England, but they've also experience a modest revival which includes great shops and restaurants. If you venture off the path to explore the burgs, you won't be disappointed. Bristol is especially nice and worth some extra time - as is Warren.
The only downside about the path is how crowded it can get with walkers and strollers. And - in an interesting irony - the peds almost always walk side by side, taking up the entire lane, and fail to move for the cyclists. This despite the fact that the peds are walking AGAINST bike traffic - they look you righ in the eye and defy you to hit them, and won't budge an inch.
Ironic: I wonder if how I was beginning to think of the peds and their smug rudeness isn't all that different from how many motorists think of cyclists . . . But that's the topic for a future post.
The Mrs. and I are off to Cape Ann for some biking tomorrow and hopefully I'll have another (and hopefully more timely) ride report for you soon. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed these pics and have a wonderful weekend!