The Cliff Walk along the eastern shore of Newport, RI is world famous as a public access walk that combines the natural beauty of the Newport shoreline with the architectural history of Newport's gilded age. Wildflowers, birds, geology ... all add to this delightful walk.
What makes Cliff Walk unique is that it is a National Recreation Trail in a National Historic District.
In 1975 the walk was designated as a National Recreation Trail ... the 65th in the nation and first in New England. The walk runs 3.5 miles and about two-thirds of the walk is in easy walking condition.
Parts of the southern half of the walk are a rough trail over the natural and rugged New England rocky shoreline. Walkers need to be especially careful and alert in these challenging areas. RI State Law seems to apply to Limit Liability of property owners.
You pass at your own risk on the walk, which is a public right-of-way over private property. In spots just a couple of feet from the path are abrupt drops of over 70 feet. Wild bushes and weeds often hide this danger.
As you walk further south you have to scramble from rock to rock and proper shoes are a must. Even with good shoes, fine sand on some of the rock surfaces can be very slippery.
One of the main things to watch for is Poison Ivy which grows well in rainy summer weather along some areas of the path.
Nevertheless, the walk remains one of the top attractions in Newport and is taken by people of all ages. Current estimates have a quarter million trips made each year.
The walk starts at the western end of Easton's or First Beach at Memorial Blvd. and runs south with major exits at Narragansett Ave., Webster St., Sheppard Ave., Ruggles Ave., Marine Ave., Ledge Rd., and ends at Bellevue Ave. at the east end of Bailey's Beach locally referred to as Reject's Beach.
At Marine Ave. there is a small natural beach [Belmont] that is often used by surfers to launch their boards when surfing off the "Breakers" on those rare occasions when hurricanes are passing offshore.
Five State of RI designated rights-of-way to Cliff Walk are marked with brass plaques at Webster St., Narragansett Ave., Ledge Rd., Ruggles Ave., and Seaview Ave.