Rhode Island’s Newport Cliff Walk traces the perimeter of the southern edge of Newport town, high above the crashing surf of the Atlantic Ocean. The 3.5-mile (5.6-kilometer) public walkway fronts many of Newport’s famous Gilded Age mansions, such as Astor’s Beechwood, Rosecliff, Marble House, the Breakers, Ochre Coure, and Rough Point.
The long and winding Newport Cliff Walk, a National Recreation Trail in a National Historic District, is a great way to see both the architecture and natural beauty of Newport in one experience. The walk is mostly paved—parts of the trail’s southern half are unpaved and ramble over the rocky shoreline—and offers better views of the Newport mansions than you can get by walking the town’s streets. There are photo-worthy vistas of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding shores too, and it’s a lovely place to watch dramatic seaside sunsets.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The entire walk takes about two to three hours.
- The walk’s southern portion, over rugged New England shoreline, is taken at your own risk. Proper hiking shoes are a must.
- The walk is a public right-of-way over private land; do not attempt to approach the homes, as they are private property.
- Bikes are not allowed on the walk. Bike racks are available at Narragansett Avenue.
- Strollers and wheelchairs are allowed only on the northern part of the Cliff Walk.
How to Get There
The Newport Cliff Walk runs from the western end of Easton’s Beach (locals call it First Beach) to the eastern end of Bailey’s Beach. There are public access points at Ledge Road, Marine Avenue, Bellevue Avenue, Ruggles Avenue, Webster Street, Narragansett Avenue, and Sheppard Avenue. Upon completion of the walk, you can catch the trolley back to 1st Beach for a nominal fee.
When to Get There
The walk is open year-round and is more crowded in the summer, when the vacation crowds descend on Newport. Set out for an early-morning stroll or run, or catch the sunset when most people are in town for dinner. The unpaved southern sections of the walk can be treacherous in winter or on stormy days; proceed with extreme caution or not at all.
Photography on the Newport Cliff Walk
The vantage points and ocean views along the walk allow for some of the coast’s best photography. Professional photographers recommend getting to the area early in the morning or at the “golden hour” in the late afternoon.