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Newport’s Breathtaking Cliff Walk: Scenic Views and Stately Mansions

Traveling has always been one of my passions. It exposes us to new cultures and experiences and makes the world a more tolerant place.

The Cliff Walk

The Cliff Walk

No visit to Newport, Rhode Island, would be complete without experiencing its stunning Cliff Walk. This 3.5-mile path that hugs the rocky shoreline offers exceptional views of Easton Bay and the Atlantic Ocean and affords a peek at a few of Newport’s stately mansions, most notably the Breakers. It’s a great way to get a little exercise, take in some amazing coastal scenery, and get a look at some of Newport’s most famous homes.

The Cliff Walk

The Cliff Walk

The walk starts on Memorial Drive at the eastern end of Easton Beach, otherwise known as First Beach. You can access the Cliff Walk at numerous other points and I would recommend using the end of Narragansett Avenue as a convenient starting point. Three and a half miles long, the path concludes at Bailey’s Beach, which is located at the very southern end of Bellevue Avenue. Along the route, you will experience a variety of terrain from a smooth asphalt path to outright boulders and rocks. Come prepared for all conditions, especially if you plan to hike the entire length.

The Cliff Walk

The Cliff Walk

If you started the Cliff Walk at Memorial Drive and Easton Beach, the first 2/3 of a mile limits the scenery to views of Easton Bay. Beautiful, yes, but this section of the Cliff Walk does not offer much in the way of peeks at some of the stunning homes that line the coast. There are numerous benches along the way if you need a break, but this section of the walk is fairly easy with all paved paths. You will notice the beautiful hotel located here above the beach, The Chanler, and its finely-manicured grounds make for a nice photo opportunity.

The Chanler Hotel

The Chanler Hotel

At about 2/3 of a mile into the walk, you will come to what’s known as the “Forty Steps.“ This is located at the end of Narragansett Avenue and as I mentioned earlier it’s my recommended point to jump on the Cliff Walk. At this location, there is ample parking on both sides of Narragansett Avenue although you do have to pay to park here and it does fill up during peak hours. The rate is $1.25 per hour and the Kiosk is located near the restrooms, which is another reason to use this as a starting/ending point. Also, there are bicycle racks here and this comes in handy as biking is one of the best ways to experience Newport. You can also take the Trolley, and this is another great way to get around Newport. We rode our bikes and didn’t have to worry about parking or paying.

View from the Forty Steps

View from the Forty Steps

The Forty Steps location is appropriately named because, yes, there are 40 granite steps here that will take you down to a small landing area and some large boulders. It’s below the Cliff Walk and gives you a little different perspective of the coastal scenery. It’s a great spot for a picture without other walkers getting in the way. From this point, it’s only about another 1/3 of a mile until you get your first glimpse of the beautiful Breakers Mansion. Before you get to the Breakers you will pass a few other stunning buildings that are all part of the Salve Regina Campus. This has got to be one of the most beautiful college settings that one can imagine. It’s right on the ocean and the views are as good as it gets.

McAuley Hall - Salve Regina University

McAuley Hall - Salve Regina University

Shortly after viewing the Breakers, considered Newport's finest mansion, the path will change abruptly to rocks and boulders. They have done a commendable job of trying to place the boulders to form a path but never-the-less, use extreme caution if you want to cross this section of the walk. You’re now about 1.3 miles from the start at Easton Beach and many visitors use this point to turn around as the rocks and boulders can look like a daunting task. If you take your time and use caution you can traverse this section and if you do, more great views and mansions await you.

The Breakers Mansion

The Breakers Mansion

If you’re still going, next up is a series of three of Newport’s most desirable addresses: Rosecliff Mansion, Beechwood, and the Marble House with its distinctive Tea House sitting prominently above the shore. This section of the walk is considered an unpaved path so it’s not as easy as the paved path but definitely much easier to handle than the rocks and boulders. The hedges that separate the path from the mansion backyards are a little higher here, so you don’t get the nice unobstructed view that you get of the Breakers. The Cliff Walk actually passes right under the Tea House and shortly after you will come to Sheep Point, which is about 2.1 miles into the walk. Here the path once again changes to rocks and boulders and stays this way past Rough Point, Land’s End, and The Waves, three more of the stunning homes that line the coast and are near the southern end of the Cliff Walk.

Boulder Section of the Cliff Walk

Boulder Section of the Cliff Walk

This marks the southern-most point of the Cliff Walk and from here it’s not far on better terrain to Bailey’s Beach. If you’ve made it this far, congratulations, you’ve hiked the entire length of the Cliff Walk. If you retrace your steps back to Easton Beach, you’ll have covered 7 miles, a pretty good effort I would say. Of course, most people don’t do the entire walk out and back. Most visitors will do just a portion of the walk and you can customize your visit to suit your available time, fitness level, and interest. You can also do the walk one-way and take the Trolley back to where you started. There are countless possibilities.

The Cliff Walk

The Cliff Walk

A Few Important Things to be Aware of When Hiking the Cliff Walk.

  • ​The shrubs that line the fence to keep people from falling into the ocean contain poison ivy so be careful, we noticed it in many locations.
  • Wear appropriate footwear. I can’t tell you how many people we saw wearing flip-flops while trying to get over the rocks and boulders.
  • Consider going early in the day or early evening. The crowds are fewer, and the sun will not be as strong. There is very little shade on the walk so bring a hat and water.
  • Consider biking or taking the Trolley to one of the Cliff Walk entrances to avoid having to park.
  • The Cliff Walk is a great spot for a morning run before it gets crowded. The views don’t get much better than this. Bicycles are not allowed on the Cliff Walk.
  • Dogs are allowed if they are on a leash, and please pick up after them.
Ochre Court - Salve Regina University

Ochre Court - Salve Regina University

There are numerous major entry points that you can take to access the Cliff Walk. They are Memorial Blvd. near Easton Beach, Narragansett Ave., Webster Ave., Sheppard Ave., Ruggles Ave., Marine Ave., Ledge Road, and Bailey’s Beach which is located at the end of Bellevue Ave. We like Narragansett Avenue because we stayed close to this point, there are bike racks and restrooms, and the Breakers and Salve Regina are very close to this entrance spot. I would consider the portion of the Cliff Walk between Forty Steps and the Tea House to be the most scenic stretch as it offers exceptional coastal views and a peek at the mansions.

The Cliff Walk

The Cliff Walk

Enjoy your journey on one of the most scenic walks that you can take. Newport has a lot to offer visitors, but you will regret leaving if you have not experienced its breathtaking Cliff Walk.

Northern portion of the Cliff Walk from Easton Beach to The Breakers

Northern portion of the Cliff Walk from Easton Beach to The Breakers

Southern portion of the Cliff Walk from The Breakers to Bailey’s Beach

Southern portion of the Cliff Walk from The Breakers to Bailey’s Beach

© 2021 Bill De Giulio

Comments

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on August 10, 2021:

Thank you Heidi. There is plenty to see and do in Newport, you would enjoy it. Hopefully you’ll get there.

Heidi Thorne from Chicago Area on August 10, 2021:

Breathtaking indeed! I've only been to Boston and New York in the Northeast for business But hope to go one day just for fun and see lovely places like this. Thanks for sharing your talent and tips!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on August 09, 2021:

Thanks John, I appreciate you taking the time to comment. The Cliff Walk is a must for any visit to Newport, as well as visiting the mansions. We toured a bunch of them and they spared no expense in building these homes, many of which were just summer cottages. Can you imagine owning one of these mansions and using it just for a few months every summer? Thanks again, have a great day.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on August 09, 2021:

It is a wonderful walk, Mary, and I think you would enjoy it. Newport in general is a nice place to visit. Thanks for stopping by, have a great day.

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on August 09, 2021:

This was an enjoyable walk, Bill. Stunning scenery and impressive mansions. I had to wait for someone I follow to comment so the article would appear in my feed. I was finally able to comment as well.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on August 09, 2021:

The cliff walk is lovely. Maybe, one summer, I could get away from the cottage and visit other places in the US

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on August 09, 2021:

Thank you Flourish. It does remind me a little of the Maine coast, very scenic. I am also very allergic to poison ivy so I had to be careful. Thank you, have a great day.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 09, 2021:

This was really stunning and the coastline reminded me of my time living in Maine years ago. Although I'm not sure about that poison ivy (highly allergic here) the setting sounds fabulous. Your photos are expert.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on August 08, 2021:

Thank you Pam. It really is a beautiful walk with views of the coast, the ocean, and the mansions. Glad you enjoyed the tour.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on August 08, 2021:

Thank you Peggy. It’s a beautiful walk and Newport has a lot of other things to see and do. The mansions, some of which can be seen from the Cliff Walk are amazing.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on August 08, 2021:

This is obviously a wonderful place to visit. Your pictures are so beautiful, and without a doubt I would love to Newport’s cliff walk, Bill. Your article is so informative, and I loved the tour.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 08, 2021:

Thanks for showcasing this beautiful part of our country that I have yet to visit. Your photos are superb as usual. I would love to meander along the Cliff Walk someday!

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on August 08, 2021:

Thanks Louise. It’s a beautiful area and the walk gives visitors wonderful views of the coast and ocean as well as some of the mansions. In the late 19th century this is the area where New York’s wealthy built their summer cottages, which in reality are huge mansions. Today many of them are owned by the Newport Preservation Society and are open to the public to tour.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on August 08, 2021:

Thanks Bill. That stretch of shoreline is very rocky and the cliffs, although not overly high, are high enough that you wouldn’t want to fall, hence the fence in places. It’s actually a very famous walk due to the views one gets of Newport’s mansions. Have a great day, Bill.

Bill De Giulio (author) from Massachusetts on August 08, 2021:

Thank you Chitrangada. It’s a beautiful walk, but can be tricky in places. The views of the ocean and Newport’s mansions make it a wonderful place for a stroll.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on August 08, 2021:

It looks a stunning place to visit, and so much to do too. I'd love to visit here!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on August 08, 2021:

A wonderful walk, and the pics are outstanding. I never knew there were cliffs in that area. There appears to be a great many things I don't know. lol Thanks for the tour, buddy, and have a great Sunday!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on August 08, 2021:

An excellent and informative article about the Newport’s cliff walk. You have shared some wonderful pictures, and I enjoyed the virtual tour.

Good to mention about the precautions, and the suitable footwear, required for the walk.

Thank you for sharing this well presented article.

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