The RI North-South Trail">The RI North-South Trail

The RI North-South Trail

RI North South Trail


  • Distance: 77 miles (distance approximate)
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate
  • Town(s): Many in RI and Eastern CT
  • Property Owned By: Many Different Entities
  • Hunting Allowed: On Some Properties
  • Dogs Allowed: On Most Properties


The RI North-South Trail was created mainly through the efforts of one determined lady, Ginnie Leslie. The following is a description of the trail from Great Swamp Press, publisher of the only definitive (and currently out-of-print) guidebook to the trail. [Ed. Note: If you manage to get a copy of this book, it’s super valuable! Go check the used prices!]

The North South Trail was created back in the late 1980’s, giving hikers, mountain bikers and to a lesser extent, equestrians, a fantastic new way to travel across the little state of Rhode Island. Following a 77 mile route along the western edge of the state, the trail passes through the numerous state owned protected and preserved land, otherwise known as state management areas, that dot the area along the way. In between the management areas the trail follows scenic, paved back roads. Rhode Island doesn’t get any more rural than this. With its beginning by the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in Charlestown, the trail ends at the border of Massachusetts at Buck Hill Management Area in Burrillville. For the intrepid, from there you can follow Midstate Trail through Massachusetts and even walk all the way to the Appalachian Trail.

The above-mentioned Ms. Leslie runs an annual Trek of the trail, broken into 6 legs or sections, and includes a bus ride to the trail heads from the parking spots. There is a nominal cost which covers the bus and insurance for the group. If you’re interested in getting on the mailing list for the annual Trek, send an email to Roland T. at

I never managed to complete the entire official “Trek,” although I started it at least 4 times. I did, however, complete it with the now-defunct Facebook Group, Providence County Hiking Club (PCHC).

What follows is a brief description of every section I hiked each year. I’ve also noted the mileage and provided a link to the specific blog post about each section. And there are maps in the later posts, dated 2018 and 2019, of each section.

southernmost blaze

Southernmost Blaze

2013—Leg 1, Charlestown to Richmond

Auntie Link, 11.5 miles—The “official” Trek starts at the southernmost point on the trail, at Blue Shutters Beach in Charlestown, RI.

2013—Leg 2, Richmond to Exeter

Auntie Link, 13.8 miles—I came sooooo close to bailing on this hike after the first 10-1/2 miles. But I didn’t.

2013—Leg 5, Foster to Gloucester

Auntie Link, 12.8 miles—Lotta road-walking in this section, but a lot more that wasn’t. And this wasl all I managed for this year’s Trek.

2014—Leg 3, Richmond to Coventry

Auntie Link, 9.32 miles—I really cheated on this particular hike by getting a ride, but to be fair it was the longest I’d attempted since I broke my ankle, so I didn’t feel too bad.

2015—PCHC Leg 1, Douglas, MA to Pascoag, RI

Auntie Link, 6.8 miles—This was the first leg of the Providence County Hiking Club’s version of the Trek, and literally the ONLY TIME I managed to cover the final part of the trail as a part of a Trek. Unlike the “official” version of the North South Trail Trek, we broke it into shorter segments, so 11 total, and we started at the northern terminus, where the N-S Trail meets the Massachusetts Midstate Trail in the mistake belief that it would be all downhill from there. LOL.

2015—PCHC Leg 2, Pascoag to Gloucester

Auntie Link, 8.17 miles—This hike includes a good part of the Walkabout Trail. Another fun rabbithole to delve into if you’re interested.

2015—PCHC Leg 3, Gloucester, RI to Killingly, CT

Auntie Link, 9.3 miles—Pretty section through 2 major management areas. It includes the most scenic shot on the entire trail, in my opinion. And hey, it’s my blog, so…

2015—PCHC Leg 4, Killingly, CT to Foster, RI

Auntie Link, 8.4 miles—A heavy road-walking section, but they are some very pretty rural roads, so just be sure to wear good shoes.

2015—PCHC Leg 5, Foster to Coventry

Auntie Link, 8.74 miles—Yet another long stretch of road walking, but again, some pretty fun and interesting sights along the way.

2015—PCHC Leg 6, Coventry to West Greenwich

Auntie Link, 7.69 miles—This section includes the official half-way post.

2015—PCHC Leg 7, West Greenwich to Exeter

Auntie Link, 8.22 miles—Finally back mostly in the woods, this is where the N-S Trail enters the 14,000-acre Acadia Management Area.

2015—PCHC Leg 8, Richmond

Auntie Link, 7.46 miles—All in the woods for this section, yay! And through the infamous Boulder Field of the North-South Trail.

2015—PCHC Leg 9, Richmond

Auntie Link, 6.8 miles—Yeah, Richmond is a big town, area-wise. There’s a stretch of nasty road-walking in this section, along busy Route 138. But it’s in between Arcadia and Carolina North Management areas.

2015—PCHC Leg 10, Richmond to Charlestown

Auntie Link, 9.3 miles—This section includes a part of another of my favorite hikes, The Vin Gormley Trail.

2015—PCHC Leg 11, Charlestown

Auntie Link, 9.3 miles—The final section of the hike, and I can truthfully now say I have hiked every single mile of this trail.

2018—Leg 1, Charlestown to Richmond

Auntie Link, 12.3 miles—Starting again from Blue Shutters Beach.

2018—Leg 2, Richmond to Exeter

Auntie Link, 13.8 miles—The section that includes The Boulder Field. Word to the wise: there is a spur trail that avoids the worst parts. And it counts!

2018—Leg 3, Exeter to Coventry

Auntie Link, 16.76 miles—Longest and hardest of the 6 sections, imho. It includes the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area.

2018—Leg 4, Coventry to Foster

Auntie Link, 10.1 miles—All road-walking, but as I have noted, they are some lovely country roads.

2018—Leg 5, Foster to Gloucester

Auntie Link, 13.4 miles—There used to be a very popular radio announcement in Rhode Island… “No school Foster/Gloucester.” Usually meant a snow day, yippee!!!

2019—Leg 1, Charlestown to Richmond

Auntie Link, 12.1 miles—Once again, I attempt to do the entire “official” Trek.

2019—Leg 3 (2.5), Richmond to Exeter

Auntie Link, 9.5 miles—This year there was a detour on this section of the trail which made the longest section, 17 miles, EVEN LONGER. I opted to meet some friends part-way, so “only” 9.5 miles. It is my understanding that the detour no longer exists.

2019—Leg 4, Coventry to Foster

Auntie Link, 10.3 miles—Lot of road-walking, but pretty stuff.

2019—Leg 5, Foster to Gloucester

Auntie Link, 13 miles—And alas, this was my last section of the North South Trail going with the “official” Trek folks.

My Favorite View

My Favorite View