BLACKSTONE RIVER BIKEWAY-RI:
PROVIDENCE-WOONSOCKET, RHODE ISLAND
-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-
Last Updated:June 11, 2017
Length: Blackstone River Bikeway (Northern Route); 9.9 miles.
Blackstone River Bikeway (Southern Route); 7.8 miles
Difficulty: Easy. Flat paved surface.
To start from the Davison Ave parking lot (Northern End); Take exit 9 off of I-295 and go north on Route 146 to Route 99 north. Take Route 122 north to Woonsocket. Just after Route 122 crosses over the Blackstone River turn left along Davison Ave. The parking lot will be on your left just before the RR bridge.
To start from Albion Road (Northern Section); Take exit 10 off of I-295 and go north on Route 122. Just a ways up, take a left onto Albion Rd. You'll cross over the Blackstone River and the parking lot will be on your right.
To start from the Blackstone River State Park Visitor Center (Central Section); Take I-295 northbound between exits 9 & 10 and exit for the "Rest Area/Visitor Center". Located at this Rest Area is the Blackstone River State Park Visitor Center. Restrooms, information center and Dunkin Donuts. A bike trail heads around the back of the building along a paved path where you'll find a patio and picnic tables. It heads gradually downhill along switchbacks for 0.5 miles where it runs into a spur trail coming down from the right. The spur trail takes you 0.2 miles up to the Route 116 parking lot. Continue left down the trail and you'll come to a wooden bridge. The bridge takes you over the Blackstone Canal to the old towpath, so instead continue along the paved trail. After you travel underneath the Route 116 Bridge, you'll come to Lower River Road. Left brings you to the map board and the Blackstone River Bikeway after 0.8 miles. Right takes you south towards Valley Falls and straight takes you over the Ashton Mill Bridge and north towards Woonsocket.
To start from the Lonsdale Drive-In parking lot (Southern Section); Take exit 10 off of I-295 and go south on Route 122 to Lonsdale. Turn left on Route 123 (Front St) and just before you cross over the Blackstone River, there will be a parking lot on your left with a sign reading Lonsdale Drive-In.
To start in Providence from India Point Park (Southern End); From I-195 eastbound take exit 2. Turn left on India St and the India Point Park parking lot will be on your right. From I-195 westbound take exit 3. Turn left on Gano St and travel underneath I-195. Take your first left and follow India St to the India Point Park parking lot on your left. Note; This section of the trail is not yet complete and utilizes paved and stone-dust trails along with on-road sections utilizing Bike Lanes or Bike Sharrows painted on the road.
The Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor is a special type of National Park. It is a region that covers nearly 400,000 acres located from Worcester County in Massachusetts down to Providence County in Rhode Island. The Federal government does not own or manage the land, instead, along with the two state governments, local municipalities, businesses and many local organizations, they work to protect the Valley’s special identity. Located within this Corridor is the Blackstone River Bikeway and Canal State Park. The bikeway follows the old corridor of the Blackstone Canal along its southern portion and runs adjacent to an active rail line operated by the Providence & Worcester Railroad Company along its northern route. This bikeway will eventually stretch from Worcester to Providence and connect to the East Bay Bike Path & Providence River Trail in Providence. Currently the trail is divided into two sections. The Northern Route is all off road while the Southern Route is mostly still on-road utilizing Bike Lanes & Sharrows. See; Blackstone River Bikeway-MA & Blackstone Canal Towpath for two more sections in Massachusetts. For more information check out; BLACKSTONE HERITAGE CORRIDOR , BIKE RI or EAST COAST GREENWAY .
Starting from India Point Park in Providence (Southern End); This section of the trail is not yet complete and utilizes paved and stone-dust trails along with on-road sections utilizing Bike Lanes or Bike Sharrows painted on the road.
Note; From here you can also access the East Bay Bike Path & Providence River Trail .
From the India Point Park parking lot; From the rear of the parking lot follow the paved trail past several large granite blocks south into the park. This quickly brings you to an intersection for the India Point Park Loop Trail. Head left following the trail out to India St, then continue straight alongside India St to Gano St, just below I-195. Head right on-road along Gano St underneath I-195. Cross an off ramp for the interstate and you'll pick up a paved section of the Blackstone River Bikeway after 0.3 miles. Here the trail travels through Gano Park Boat Launch and alongside the Seekonk River. After 0.6 miles you pass a bench on your right. This is where an old rail line traveled, crossing the river along the old RR bridge with its draw bridge still raised. Travel along Cold Spring Point out to Pitman St at 0.9 miles. A Bike Lane travels right bringing you to Richmond Square at 1 mile. From here it's on-road (Bike Sharrows) along narrow East River St. Travel downhill underneath the Henderson Bridge between the river and Paterson & Blackstone Park. Follow the road left along Irving Ave out to an intersection. Bear right along Irving Ave across Blackstone Blvd where you'll pick up the off-road Blackstone Blvd Path after 2 miles.
Note; A Bike Lane is located along both sides of Blackstone Blvd.
Head right (north) traveling along a greenway between Blackstone Blvd. Just before you reach Hope St bear right across Blackstone Blvd to Alfred Stone Rd at 3.6 miles. Here you'll pick up another Bike Lane heading east (heading west along this road is only Bike Sharrows). The road becomes Pleasant St after a sharp right turn. Just past the elementary school turn right on Bowles Ct (Bike Sharrows) then left along Taft St (Bike Sharrows). Just past Tower St pick up a Bike Lane at 4.8 miles. Pass by the Pawtucket Town Landing overlooking the river on your right before traveling underneath the brownstone arched Grace/Division Street Bridge followed by the I-95 bridge where you follow Bike Sharrows. Taft St becomes Roosevelt Ave Exd. Cross Main St to Roosevelt Ave. Here you'll find the Pawtucket Falls. Below the falls, the Blackstone River becomes tidal and changes its name to the Seekonk River. Pass by SLATER MILL on your right at 5.4 miles where you'll find a brick walkway alongside the river. Old brick mill buildings along this route. Come to Charles St just before a bridge over the river and head left. Chocolate Mill Overlook Park located here (informational signs and a promenade overlooking the river). First right on High St. Travel through a tunnel underneath a RR bridge. High St twists and turns before passing by River Island Park parking lot at 7.1 miles and traveling underneath an active RR bridge. Pass by the converted old brick "Blackstone Falls" apartments before coming to Broad St. Head right above a power canal and across the Blackstone River (Valley Falls Dam below). Check out Valley Falls Heritage Park on your right. Head left along Meeting St continuing with the Bike Sharrows. Then right on Chase St, left on Titus St and right on Silva St. This brings you to Jones St after 7.8 miles and the continuation of the paved Blackstone River Bikeway on your left.
Continuing from Jones Street in the Valley Falls section of Cumberland; Re-zeroing Mileage. The paved Blackstone River Bikeway heads north alongside the Lonsdale Marsh and over one of the widest boardwalks I've ever encountered. There are granite mileage markers giving you the distance from Providence every 0.5 miles, as well as interpretive signs all along the trail. After 0.3 miles you'll pass your first granite mile marker (Mile marker 7.5). A cross-walk takes you over Route 123 and then left over the Blackstone River. This brings you to the Lonsdale Drive-In parking lot at 0.6 miles. A sign board with map is located here. From the parking lotthe path winds through an open field that used to be the Drive-In. You then cross over Route 122 at a cross walk and continue alongside the river with cedar fencing on both sides of you. You now get to cross the Blackstone River along a 6 span bridge that was built using the existing piers from the old railroad trestle over the Pratt Dam at 1.3 miles (Mile marker 8.5). As you cross over the bridge you'll be leaving Cumberland and crossing into Lincoln. You then come to the Blackstone Canal. Left takes you over the canal to the Blackstone State Park parking lot. Turn right and travel alongside the canal on your left and the river out along your right.. Nice split rail fencing accompanies you on both sides of the path. Keep an eye out for sunning turtles along the banks of the Canal, we saw dozens of them. Keep an eye out for an old Canal overflow sluiceway that you'll cross over. At 3 miles you come to the Martin Street Bridge. A spur takes you up and over this beautifully built bridge with wooden trusses. However, the trail travels beneath the bridge. You then pass a rocky area with a granite bench and a granite marker calling this "Canoe Rock" (Mile marker 10.5) followed by a spur trail on your left at 3.4 miles.
Note; This spur trail leads to the Historic Towpath. This hard packed dirt & stone-dust trail brings you alongside the Blackstone Canal, with lots of informational signs before joining Towpath Rd and passing by the yellow "Kelly House", which contains a museum about the canal and Blackstone River area. You come to Lower River Rd after 0.4 miles. Right returns you to the paved Blackstone River Bikeway. However if you continue straight, through the Lower River Road parking lot and underneath the Route 116 Bridge you may continue along the old towpath. This hard packed dirt & gravel trail travels between the Blackstone Canal & Blackstone River, passing a small wooden bridge over the canal that leads to the Blackstone River State Park Visitor Center. The trail ends after 0.2 miles (0.6 miles total) where the river is diverted into the canal. There are some granite steps here leading down to the canal for a canoe put in. There is also a walkway for carrying your canoe around the dam.
The paved trail heads away from the old towpath and passes through a meadow. This brings you alongside the river. You'll come to an intersection at 3.8 miles (Mile marker 11). The trail continues right across a bridge over the river. Straight ahead is a map board.
Note; Heading left brings you to the yellow "Kelly House", which contains a museum about the canal and Blackstone River area. During the summer its open 7 days a week and is free. This is also where the Historic Towpath comes out. If you continue over the bridge a paved trail on your right leads 0.8 miles uphill to the Blackstone River State Park Visitor Center. A spur trail part way up also leads to the Route 116 parking lot. Heading straight past the map board brings you through the Lower River Road parking lot and underneath the Route 116 Bridge to another section of the Historic Towpath. This hard packed dirt & gravel trail travels between the Blackstone Canal & River, passing a small wooden bridge over the canal that leads to the Blackstone River State Park Visitor Center. The trail ends after 0.2 miles where the river is diverted into the Canal. There are some granite steps here leading down to the Canal for a canoe put in. There is also a walkway for carrying your canoe around the dam.
Right takes you over the Blackstone River via the Ashton Mill Bridge. After crossing over, you'll be back in Cumberland where the trail continues left underneath the Route 116 Bridge.
Note; Right will take you over the railroad tracks to the Ashton Mill parking lot.
Continuing north the trail runs alongside an active railroad line. A black fence separates you from the tracks on your right, with the river over to your left. Next, you'll pass below I-295 and at about 5.1 miles you'll cross over the RR tracks, complete with a railroad crossing signal. The trail travels up and over a slight hill, with the tracks below on your left. You cross over the Blackstone River on a new bridge parallel to the railroad bridge. Note the nicely restored old mill on your left. You cross over Albion Road at 5.3 miles (Mile marker 12.5) and through the parking lot. Map board located here. A low dam crosses the river here. Now the river is on your right and the tracks to your left. Keep a lookout to your left for a stone arch bridge with a small waterfall and stream on the opposite side of the tracks at about mile 6.3. At 6.8 miles (Mile marker 14), you pass through the Manville parking lot. Map board. After passing underneath a bridge, you come to the Manville Dam with a nice overlook. As you travel alongside the tracks, watch for a couple of railroad mileage posts. The first will be P13, which means, 13 miles to Providence. The other side reads W, showing the distance to Worcester. At around 8.2 miles, the trail travels underneath Route 99. I believe the waterway on your right that follows the trail is part of the old Blackstone Canal. At 8.8 miles the trail passes by the Woonsocket Water Treatment Plant. Route 126 (Manville Rd) is on your left. The trail heads up a hill (possibly a reclaimed landfill) and out into the open. Nice views of the river below. You'll pass by a soccer field and Par 3 golf holes before coming to a gravel access road at 9.4 miles.
Note; Head left to the Rivers Edge Recreation Complex, which has a snack bar, restrooms and parking. There is also a canoe launch located here.
The trail follows this access road past the (Mile marker 17) out to the Davison Ave parking lot at 9.9 miles. The trail currently ends here as of July, 2017. Construction to continue the trail north is scheduled to begin sometime in 2017.
Note; You can continue your journey into downtown Woonsocket via an on-road/sidewalk route. Only 0.8 miles to downtown where you can explore the old train depot and market square. See below.
To travel on-road into Woonsocket:
From the Davison Ave parking lot; Continue through the parking lot and travel right along Davison Ave to Hamlet Ave (Route 122). Use the cross-light and turn left along Hamlet Ave past a large brick mill building on your left and the newly constructed Woonsocket Middle School Campus on your right. Nice wide sidewalks available. You'll come to an intersection of Routes 122 & 126, with the RR tracks crossing here as well. Cross in front of Morton Ave and then over the RR tracks where Hamlet Ave (now Routes 122 & 126) continues. Sidewalks available. Check out the large brick church on your left at 0.6 miles. Next is another beautiful brick building on your left (old school building?). You'll come to an island at Front Street which contains a statue from the Spanish American War. An old stone building is on your left which I believe was the old Courthouse (the sign read "Courthouse Condo's). Continue straight over the Court Street Bridge (sidewalks along both sides). The views from the left side are best. Old mill buildings and the river, quite a drop, below. To your right you'll spot the RR trestle over the river. The bridge also crosses over Truman Dr. After crossing over via the left sidewalk you'll come to the small Veterans Memorial Park next to Main St in downtown Woonsocket at 0.8 miles.
Note; You have three options from here. You can easily do all three.
Option 1; Cross over Main St to High St and visit the old Woonsocket Depot, built by the Providence & Worcester RR in 1882, which now houses the headquarters of the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. Open Mon –Fri 8-5. For more information visit; NPS and Blackstone Valley-RI .
Option 2; Return to Main St and head left (north) checking out all the beautiful old buildings such as the Paradis building built in 1895. You'll come to another island in the road which houses a monument to the Civil War.
Option 3; Return back up Main St and follow it southwest past all the old bank buildings and City Hall. A few shops still making a go of it. Some very nice stone and brick buildings remaining. You'll come to Market Square which contains informational signs about the old canal and city. The Blackstone Canal opened for business in 1828 from here. In the far corner of the square is a brick pavilion containing more historical information. Just across River St are views of a dam across the river and the gates above. Across Main St is the River Falls, a beautiful old brick mill building now housing a restaurant and bar that overlooks the river. Beautifully redone inside. Just left of this building is the Museum of Work and Culture . Head back along Main St and take your first right down Bemon St. This will bring you to River Island Park on your right. A trail brings you alongside the river, bandstand, gazebo and picnic tables. After checking out the park continue over the bridge along Bemon St and you'll come to Front Street. Turn left and take Front Street back to Court Street for a completed loop. You can then return to the bikeway by heading right.
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BIKE IT OR HIKE IT