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Rhode Island Fall Foliage

Great Rhode Island Fall Foliage Car Tours

Rhode Island Fall FoliagePlease bookmark this page to check when new tours have been put up for you.It will help you find it in a much faster when you want to return.

As small as the state is, Rhode Island has its fair share of lakes, forests and seashore that make it a surprising place for fall foliage tours. In many ways it's as idyllic as other New England states that front the Atlantic Ocean and sculpted bays where some of the trees may not be among the ordinary. Having lived near the sea, I can attest that sumac seems quite fond of ocean sea air, and is happy to change its green finery into a sometimes quite brilliant reds.

Newport, of course, has crafted many splendid walks, such as Cliff Walk, that offer a variety of things nature has nurtured, but what makes it enchanting is the mix of cool autumn breezes, varied, colorful tree species that produce some unusual colors and the mixed fragrance of falls scents and fresh, salty oceanic air. It is unique, save for some of the coastlines of Connecticut, Maine and Massachusetts, where lobstermen prepare their traps.

As with other New England states, Rhode Island is steeped in history. Its contribution to the Revolution is legendary, and for well over a century, the biggest event in yacht racing took place in the Atlantic off of Newport's shores. But it's also the birthplace of one of America's finest 118th century painters, Gilbert Stuart, and that's where we'll begin.

Rhode Island Tours

Tour One

Westerly to Saunderstown (birthplace of famed colonial artist Gilbert Stuart)

This is somewhat of a seaside tour without being a bona fide, one-the-sand drive. It goes sufficiently inland and takes you through towns with tree-lined streets, each tree beckoning you for a digital snapshot. We start in Westerly in Western, Rhode Island, and drive south on Rte. 78 east. Turning LEFT on Franklin Street, Rtes. 1 and 2, we stay on Rtes. 1 and 2 straight onto the Post Road, Rtes. 1, 1A and 2. Continue to follow that for about 14 miles, where you take a slight LEFT at Tower Hill Road, Rte. 1 heading toward Hammond Hill. At Hammond Hill, take a LEFT and then shortly after that, turn RIGHT onto Gilbert Stuart Road. His birthplace and museum are located at 815 Gilbert Stuart Road, Saunderstown. The museum is a partial restoration. While Gilbert painted some of the important people of his era, his father ran a snuff mill. The curator had to order a new one from England when the original deteriorated. Snuff is a tobacco product.


Tour Two

Newport's Cliff Walk

This is a peditour, so no need to fill ’er up. The storied pathway begins at Memorial Boulevard. The Walk itself is sectional. Not unlike a New York subway line, there are different stops along the way. While foliage here is far sparser than it is in the northern part of the state, there are enough trees to enjoy the walk and see some leaf color. The first leg is paved and easy an easy warm-up for what's to come. After that, you face the "40 Steps." They lead to a large balcony, at which you can stop and take in the sea air and begin to see the "summer cottages," as they were euphemistically called that make the White House look like a condo.

Continuing on, you'll find yourself on a two or so mile walk from Marine Avenue to Ledge Road. Here you encounter a rather less comfortable walk, inasmuch as the pathway is rocky, hardscrabble and part paved. After this, you'll pass through tunnels and arrive at the Tea House, the Marble House mansion, a spectacular sight; Rosecliff; and, John Jacob Astor's Beechwood. It's at this point that you realize you you're on a tour that meanders through an history at its chicest. Going onward, the Tea House Tunnel, a 250-foot passage, comes next. It inherits its name from an extremely large Chinese motif teahouse Mrs. Vanderbilt asked her husband to have built for she and her well-heeled friends. Gull Rock, the next tunnel, leads to the coarsest and unwelcoming path conditions you'll encounter. Here you must navigate the slick-rocked shore, as well as vegetation, which, through its dense overgrowth, has laid claim to the land. It's also where tempers flared to the point that homeowners along this section built fences to keep path wanderers off their property. No editorial discussion of that inasmuch as we'll doubtless "offend" (oh, perish the thought) someone.

Emerging from the tunnel you find yourself at Rough Point, a particularly rocky area where the waves lash and pound the rocks with seeming pent-up ire year-round. Well back from the whipped and chiseled cliffs is a mansion named "Rough Point." It was built by the Vanderbilts, but later became the home of Doris Duke. You can read more about Rough Point here.

From this section, the walk continues to Ledge Road. It's here that many people believe they've reached the end of the walk. But, from Ledge Road it continues on to its real end on Bellevue Avenue.

While many consider this to be a conduit fit only for spring and summer strolls, it holds its own autumn tour, as well. In fact, it's somewhat of an fall secret, highly photogenic and so utterly scenic on both sides as to be an experience much dreamt about.


Tour Three

North Kingston to Hopkins Hollow

This tour will take you through plenty of New England fall foliage and a good many picturesque towns oozing history and that history well represented by old houses scattered amidst the contemporary and the malls that have supplanted tailors, coopers and cobblers with the sparkling glass-and-steel business of today.

You start in North Kingston and drive north on Lantern Lane until you turn LEFT onto Annaquatucket road. From there, turn RIGHT onto Rte. 1, Tower Hill Road, then turn LEFT on Rte. 102, Ten Rod Road. Stay on this route for about 8 miles , where you bear LEFT to stay on Rte. 102. You next take a RIGHT on Rtes. 102, 3 and Nooseneck Road, and then a short distance later, you turn LEFT at Rte. 102. Next, you turn LEFT at Plain Meeting House Road, then, about 4 miles later, turn RIGHT onto Plain Road. Continue on this to Hopkins Hollow Road and follow that into Hopkins Hollow.


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