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Hike the Cliff Walk in Newport, Rhode Island

Updated on July 20, 2016
Frank Sturm profile image

Frank Sturm considers himself an avid New England adventurer and has 15 years of experience in the lawn care industry.

Tucked away in Newport’s cliffs and hidden in the shadows of the famous Gilded Age mansions lies the 3.5 mile Cliff Walk. While parts of the Walk teem with visitors, many areas along the walk are peaceful and void of much traffic. When traversing its latter parts, you might not feel like the cliffs host over a quarter of million visits each year. So, when you come upon these stretches you can truly feel the power of the scenery. The almighty ocean rushes the cliffs from one side, while Newport’s mansions carefully observe visitors coming and going from the other.

The Mansions From Afar

You'll have great views when you pass the 40 stairs.
You'll have great views when you pass the 40 stairs. | Source

Parking

1. Along Narrgansett Avenue or Memorial Boulevard: Paid parking

2. Easton Beach (1st beach): $10 during week. $20 between 10 am and 2 pm on the weekends.

3. Second Beach: Paid parking, but it is a few miles away from the cliff walks


Easton Beach and Snack Bar

The street to the left is Memorial Blvd. Easton Beach is in the distance. Grab lunch at the snack bar on Easton Beach.
The street to the left is Memorial Blvd. Easton Beach is in the distance. Grab lunch at the snack bar on Easton Beach. | Source

Amenities

Food, bathroom and entertainment: If you crave mouthwatering food before or after your Cliff Walk, check out Easton Beach of (1st Beach, called by the locals) located on Memorial Boulevard. It is located at the head of the Cliff Walk and next to The Chanler (hotel). Grab a hot lunch and wash it down with a cold, non alcoholic drink at the beach's snack bar. Children will enjoy the carousel, playground and souvenir store. There is also a skateboard park.

The Atlantic Beach Club: After a day of walking the cliffs, maybe you are ready for a night of drinks, food and live music. After all, there is tons to do in Newport, Rhode Island! The Atlantic Beach Club hosts live bands in the early afternoon. They serve lunch between 11 am and 4 pm and dinner thereafter. It is has an animated crowd at most hours of the day and night; however, you might find Sunday to be a little more peaceful. Want a scrumptious Sunday brunch? For $14.95 per person, you can enjoy a variety of flavorful foods . The Beach Club offers brunch from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm.

The Beginning of the Cliff Walk. Aerial

The Cliff Walk officially starts along Memorial Blvd (Rt. 138 A). The alluring Chanler hotel will be to your right as you first enter the Cliff Walk.
The Cliff Walk officially starts along Memorial Blvd (Rt. 138 A). The alluring Chanler hotel will be to your right as you first enter the Cliff Walk.

The Beginning of the Cliff Walk

Most people begin the Walk at Memorial Boulevard or at the end of Cliff Terrace and Seaview Ave. For a small fee, you park in these areas. Just remember you’ll have to make it back to your car later in the day, so I suggest you take a trolley at the end of the Walk. Usually, you can find trolleys at Ledge Road or Bellevue Ave and will take you back to your starting point for a small fee. (Maps for these roads are located at the bottom of this article.)

Millions of dollars have been used to preserve and reconstruct the Cliff Walk. The beginning of the Walk is in the best condition. The sidewalks and walls that protect you from sharp drops are well built and stable. The first segment of the walk starts from Memorial Boulevard and ends around the 40 steps. (And by end, I mean the conditions and agendas of people walking the trail change slightly.)

The 40 Steps From Above. Aerial

They offer some amazing views.
They offer some amazing views.

Between Narragansett Ave and Ruggles Ave From Above. Aerial

Right after the 40 steps, circled above, is some of the Cliff Walk's most beautiful scenery. Some of the dazzling, historic mansions rest here.
Right after the 40 steps, circled above, is some of the Cliff Walk's most beautiful scenery. Some of the dazzling, historic mansions rest here.

The 40 Steps and the Gilded Age Mansions

It’s hard not to notice the Steps. The steps plunge 40 feet down the side of a cliff and onto a balcony that rests just above the sea. You are so close to the water, the impressive waves and air thick with salt will grab your attention. Yet, fear not, the walls are very stable. Servants and workers of the mansions gathered once along these steps to play songs, party and dance to remind them of their distant homes.

Once past the Stairs, you are in for quite the treat. The mansions, tall and muscular, but still elegant in their poise, will command your gaze. What you may notice is how large they look even when set far back from the ocean.To many visitors, the section that lie between Narragansett Ave and Ruggles Ave is the Walk’s most dazzling gift.

No longer residences, Salve Regina University now owns four of the mansions. The four mansions are Ochre Point, Ochre Court, Cave Cliff and Vineland. The most famous mansion is the Breaker’s Mansion , which rests just south of the University.

The Breaker’s is an Italian palace built by Cornelus Vanderbilt. As the largest of the Cliff’s mansions, it took over 200 workers to construct the beast between 1893-1895.

Entrance to the Cliff Walk by Narragansett Ave

There are plenty of signs to direct you to the Cliff Walk's entry points.
There are plenty of signs to direct you to the Cliff Walk's entry points. | Source

The 40 Steps

The steps lead to some amazing views.  They are about 3/8 of a mile from the trail head.
The steps lead to some amazing views. They are about 3/8 of a mile from the trail head. | Source

40 Steps. Looking at Entrance Way

The 40 Steps were once an area used by servants and workers of the castles to dance and sing.
The 40 Steps were once an area used by servants and workers of the castles to dance and sing. | Source

The Breakers' Mansion

The Breakers is a 65,000 sq. foot mansion that holds over 60 rooms. In today's money, it would have cost around $150 million to build. It is now a National Historic Landmark and owned and operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County.
The Breakers is a 65,000 sq. foot mansion that holds over 60 rooms. In today's money, it would have cost around $150 million to build. It is now a National Historic Landmark and owned and operated by the Preservation Society of Newport County. | Source

Be Careful After Ruggles Ave. Aerial

Notice how the Walk drops off in the middle of the photo. You can still navigate this area, but be careful.
Notice how the Walk drops off in the middle of the photo. You can still navigate this area, but be careful.

Junction of Westmore and Marine Ave. Aerial

Many casual hikers will start their Cliff Walk from this junction. There is a small trail at the end of Westmore Ave that leads to the Cliff Walk.
Many casual hikers will start their Cliff Walk from this junction. There is a small trail at the end of Westmore Ave that leads to the Cliff Walk.

The Tea House and Second Tunnel

After the 40 stairs and the mansions, the Walk continues south to Ledge Road; however, be prepared because the trail ahead is a bit more sketchy. As you can see in the aerial shot to the right, the Cliff Walk drops out to beach rocks and then picks back up soon after. You can navigate these rocks, but be careful, especially when they are wet.

Many casual walkers begin their journey from the junction of Westmore Ave and Marine Ave or Ruggles Ave and walk south past the Chinese Tea House and then onto the second tunnel at Gull Rock. Almost immediately after the second tunnel, you’ll trail off into more natural, rugged New England shoreline and small trails that hug the shore. The junction of Westmore and Marine Ave to the second tunnel is about 3/4 of a mile


Be Careful When Climbing the Cliffs

You can climb the rocks, but be careful. If you injure yourself, is will be difficult for crews to rescue you because many potential exits are locked. This is all private property.
You can climb the rocks, but be careful. If you injure yourself, is will be difficult for crews to rescue you because many potential exits are locked. This is all private property. | Source

Cliff Walk at Ruggles Ave

The entrance to the Cliff Walk is well marked at Ruggles Ave. You could also drive a couple streets south to the junction of Westmore and Marine Ave.
The entrance to the Cliff Walk is well marked at Ruggles Ave. You could also drive a couple streets south to the junction of Westmore and Marine Ave. | Source

The Chinese Tea House

Soon after the Westmore and Marine Ave junction, you'll spot the Chinese Tea House. I've seen pictures where this lights up at night.
Soon after the Westmore and Marine Ave junction, you'll spot the Chinese Tea House. I've seen pictures where this lights up at night. | Source

Rough Point Bridge. Aerial

Concluding Your Cliff Walk

After the second tunnel, you’re next landmark will be Rough Point Bridge. The terrain is slightly unstable around this point of the Walk. This is a nice bridge to rest against and peer out into the energetic sea whipping back and forth. Finally, you’ll loop around the tip of the landmass to Ledge Road. You can either exit the walk at Ledge Road or continue forward a short distance to Bellevue Ave. The Walk ends at Bellevue Ave.

Just past Ledge Road you'll notice magnificent rocks that jet out a short distance into the sea. many visitors and their children like to enjoy a hard earned lunch or play on them. The Walk then continues as a dirt path that winds its way through some small brush, sand and rocks before it fades out into Bellevue Road.

And that concludes your Cliff Walk.Now to just get back to your car!

Rough Point Bridge

Located after the second tunnel.
Located after the second tunnel. | Source

End of the Cliff Walk from Rough Point Bridge

The Walk loops around after Rough Point Bridge and officially ends at Bellevue Ave. You should be able to find a trolley at Bellevue Ave to take you back to your car.
The Walk loops around after Rough Point Bridge and officially ends at Bellevue Ave. You should be able to find a trolley at Bellevue Ave to take you back to your car.

End of the Cliff Walk

The end of the Cliff Walk trails off into...literally trails. In the distance you can see rocks you can walk on.  The woman in the photo is walking along a part of the Cliff Walk. The end of the walk is off photo, behind the woman.
The end of the Cliff Walk trails off into...literally trails. In the distance you can see rocks you can walk on. The woman in the photo is walking along a part of the Cliff Walk. The end of the walk is off photo, behind the woman. | Source

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A markerMemorial and Eustis 02840 -
Memorial Boulevard & Eustis Avenue, Newport, RI 02840, USA
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This is where the Cliff Walk begins.

Citations

Friends of the Waterfront and Vic Farmer. (2003). Cliff walk. Retrieved from http://www.cliffwalk.com/sect1.htm

Newport Discovery Guide. (2009-2012). Newport cliff walk 3.5 miles of history, beauty and adventure. Retrieved from http://www.newport-discovery-guide.com/newport-cliff-walk.html

TK@WebGhosts.com (N.d.). Newport's cliff walk. Retrieved from http://www.cliffwalk.com/

© 2014 Frank Sturm

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    • Frank Sturm profile image
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      Frank Sturm 12 months ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks Paul! Hopefully this helps (helped) you on your next adventure.

    • Paul Silverzweig profile image

      Paul Silverzweig 2 years ago from Portsmouth RI USA

      nice... keep on hubbing...

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