motorcycle destinations

Best Motorcycle Roads & Destinations in Rhode Island, United States

Best Motorcycle Roads & Destinations in Rhode Island, United States

1. Introduction

If you have never gone on a motorcycle trip before or just prefer to travel through a smaller region, you should plan an excursion to Rhode Island or “the Ocean State.” Most of the roads you will travel on will pass through two major areas: the Coastal Lowland and the New England Upland. If you travel towards the New England Upland in the northwest, you will encounter rough terrain and rolling hills filled with dense forests and scattered lakes. On the other hand, if you go towards the Coastal Lowland in the southeast, you will encounter flat lowlands, sandy beaches, and salty marshes.

This article is intended to provide a list of Rhode Island’s famous motorcycle roads and destinations as well as supplementary information on this state’s motorcycle laws and possible luggage options.

2. Best Roads and Destinations in Rhode Island

2.1 Zigzag to the Sea

Distance: 53 miles
Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Start: Smithfield
End: Point Judith, Narragansett

Heading south out of Smithfield, you will pass in between George Washington Picnic Grove and Stillwater Reservoir. You may catch a glimpse of Stump Pond which is close to the edges of Stillwater Reservoir. Continuing to wind around Pleasant View Avenue, you will pass by Phillips Land and Burgess Field.

As you swerve around the northern tip of the Scituate Reservoir, you will pass by the site of the Scituate Art Festival if you happen to be visiting during the right season. When you get close to Barden Reservoir, you will be in close proximity to Grover C. Walker Memorial and Ponaganset Falls.

Turning onto Rhode Island Route 102, you will pass by several wilderness areas including Audubon George Parker Woodland Wildlife Refuge, Audubon Maxwell Mays Wildlife Refuge, Big River Management Area, and Cuttyhunk Brook Preserve. Transitioning onto Rhode Island Route 4, you will pass within the vicinity of Lafayette Hatchery, Belleville Pond, Ryan Park, and Secret Lake.

Making the final push on U.S. Route 1 towards Point Judith, you will pass by Narrow River, Indian Lake, Hannah Robinson Rock & Tower, Treaty Rock, Pettaquamscutt Cove, and John H. Chafee National Wildlife Refuge.

2.2 The Backdoor to Newport

Embarking southwest away from Branch Village, you will coast around the northern edges of the Slatersville Reservoirs before resuming on your way via Rhode Island Route 102. Turning straight south, you will be able to make out Hopkins Woodland Town Forest and Smith & Sayles Reservoir in the distance.

Distance: 58 miles
Time: 1 hour 19 minutes
Start: Branch Village
End: Newport

Turning onto Rhode Island Route 102, you will pass by several wilderness areas including Audubon George Parker Woodland Wildlife Refuge, Audubon Maxwell Mays Wildlife Refuge, Big River Management Area, and Cuttyhunk Brook Preserve. Turning eastward, you will begin to cross over towards the collection of islands along the southern region of Rhode Island.

As you cross over via Rhode Island Route 138, you will catch sight of Plum Beach Light and Dutch Island Lighthouse sitting in the water. You will pass by Marsh Meadows Wildlife Preserve before you cross Claiborne Pell/Newport Bridge to get to Newport.

2.3 Middle RI Loop

Middle RI Loop - Best Roads and Destinations
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Leaving Coventry, you will head west by traveling parallel to South Branch Pawtuxet River, beside Flat River Reservoir, and in the vicinity of Stump Pond. Upon making it past West Coventry, you will have cleared the bottom side of the loop.

Distance: 29 miles
Time: 46 minutes
Start: Coventry
End: Coventry

Turning northward onto Rhode Island Route 102, you will come in close proximity to Audubon George Parker Woodland Wildlife Refuge, Westconnaug Reservoir, and Ponaganset Falls. When you meet the intersection with Rhode Island Route 14, you have completed the left side of the loop.

Traveling eastward on Rhode Island Route 14, you will cross Scituate Reservoir Bridge which will give you the chance to admire the glittering surface of Scituate Reservoir. Making it to East Road, you will have made it to the end of the top side of the loop.

Transitioning onto Rhode Island Route 116, you will begin making the return trip south back to Coventry. You will clear the eastern edge of Scituate Reservoir, travel over Pawtuxet River, and pass by Black Rock Reservoir, Upper Dam Pond, and Middle Dam Pond.

2.4 Jamestown Loop

Starting in Plum Point, you can grab a quick bite to eat at the Plum Point Bistro. You can also check out the shoreline by walking along the lengths of Plum Point Beach and Plum Beach. You will then head east, crossing over Jamestown Bridge until you are on the island Jamestown is on.

Distance: 24 miles
Time: 53 minutes
Start: Plum Point, North Kingstown
End: Plum Point, North Kingstown

Turning straight south on North Road, you will pass by the Windmill Hill Historic District and Marsh Meadows Wildlife Preserve. Upon arriving in Jamestown, you can check out the Jamestown Fire Memorial Museum, the Jamestown Windmill, East Ferry Beach, and the Jamestown Historical Society.

Making your way to the southern tip of the island, you will pass by Mackerel Cove Beach, Daughters of the American Revolution Memorial, Conanicut Battery Historic Park, and Beavertail State Park.

Making your return trip, you will take a different route by heading northward on East Shore Road. You will travel beside Conanicut Island Sanctuary, Taylor Point Lookout, Potter Cove, Cranston Cove, and Conanicut Island Lighthouse at the northern tip of the island.

2.5 Ocean Drive & Aquidneck Island South

Ocean Drive & Aquidneck Island South - Best Roads and Destinations
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Departing southward away from South Portsmouth, you will encounter Little Creek Preserve, Albro Woods, and Greenvale Vineyards as you head towards Wapping Road. Further along when you are traveling on 3rd Beach Road, you will pass by Howland Park, Demery Park, Norman Bird Sanctuary, Peabody’s Beach, and Third Beach.

Distance: 16 miles
Time: 38 minutes
Start: South Portsmouth, Portsmouth
End: Lakeview Avenue, Newport

Traveling westward on Memorial Boulevard between Easton Pond and Easton Bay, you will have the opportunity to visit Save the Bay Exploration Center & Aquarium or Easton’s Beach.

Winding around the southern coast of the island, you will be able to spend time on different beachfronts including King Park Beach, Collins Beach, King’s Beach, Hazard’s Beach, Gooseberry Beach, and Bailey Beach. There is also no shortage of landmarks such as Beacon Rock, the Reef Estate Tower “Bells,” Portuguese Discovery Monument, and the Belcourt of Newport.

2.6 US Route 44

US Route 44 - Best Roads and Destinations
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Starting in Providence, you have the opportunity to visit many historical and artistic establishments including the Lippitt House Museum, John Brown House Museum, Rhode Island Museum of Science and Art, and Rhode Island School of Design Museum. Despite being in the center of an urban area, you will find many tranquil locations such as Waterplace Park, Burnside Park, and Roger Williams National Memorial.

Distance: 23 miles
Time: 43 minutes
Start: Providence
End: 2595 Providence Pike

Leaving the city behind, you will head westward on Putnam Pike. You will cross over Woonasquatucket River, Sebille Pond, Slack Reservoir, Ken Weber Conservation Area at Cascade Brook, and Waterman Reservoir.

After clearing the halfway point, you will continue to head westward which will get you in close proximity to Sprague Farm Town Forest, Pascoag Reservoir, Pulaski/Washington State Forest, and Hawkins Pond Town Forest. The end of the route should be on top of the border between Rhode Island and Connecticut.

2.7 Richmond to Misquamicut State Beach

After leaving Richmond, you will turn southward by traveling via Rhode Island Route 112. As you wind around, you will travel close to Grass Pond Management Area, Carolina Management Area, and American Fish Woods. Upon making it down to Charleston, you should be able to make out Tautog Cove and Cross Mills Pond in the distance. You can also check out the former site of Fort Ninigret and walk on Ninigret Beach.

Distance: 21 miles
Time: 33 minutes
Start: Richmond
End: Misquamicut State Beach

Turning westward on U.S. Route 1, you will travel close to and pass through a large array of natural areas including Ninigret Park, Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, Watchaug Pond, Burlingame Management Area, Woody Hill Management Area, and Quonochontaug Pond.

As you draw closer to Misquamicut State Beach, you will pass by Dr. John Champlin Glacier Park and Audubon Lathrop Wildlife Refuge. Upon making it your destination, you can go to Atlantic Beach Park if you are looking for fun attractions.

2.8 Arcadia Loop

Arcadia Loop - Best Roads and Destinations
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Heading northward on Rhode Island Route 1A, you will pass by King/Benson Preserve, Casey Farm, and John H. Chafee Rome Point Preserve. As you draw closer to North Kingstown, you will be able to admire Lotus Pond and North Kingstown Town Beach. After you have reached Wickford Cove, you will have cleared the right side of the loop.

Distance: 53 miles
Time: 1 hour 23 minutes
Start: Saunderstown
End: Saunderstown

Traveling westward on the top side of the loop, you will first ride atop Rhode Island Route 102. You will pass by Queen’s River Macrosite, Cuttyhunk Brook Preserve, and Fisherville Brook Wildlife Refuge. You will then transition onto Rhode Island Route 165, you will be able to visit J.B. Hudson Trailhead, Mt. Tom Trailhead, Wood River Arcadia Management Area, Tippecansett Trailhead, and Hemlock Ledges Overlook.

Crossing over into Connecticut, you will get to admire Beach Pond before you turn back around towards Rhode Island via Rhode Island Route 138. Traveling on the bottom side of the loop, you will pass by Arcadia Ponds, Wincheck Pond, Locustville Pond, Green Pond Management Area, University of Rhode Island, and Narrow River. You will eventually arrive back in Saunderstown.

2.9 Tiverton to Sakonnet Point

Tiverton to Sakonnet Point - Best Roads and Destinations
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At Sakonnet Point, you can get a glimpse of Sakonnet Lighthouse sitting atop Little Cormorant Rock. Scattered around the southern edge of the island, you should be able to make out Round Pond, Long Pond, and Lloyd’s Beach.

Distance: 13 miles
Time: 23 minutes
Start: Sakonnet Point, Little Compton
End: Tiverton

Turning northward via Rhode Island Route 77, you will encounter Wilbour Woods, the Little Compton Historical Society, Sakonnet Garden, and Hope’s Path. Approaching the halfway point, you will be within the vicinity of Watson Reservoir, Donovan Marsh, Nonquit Pond, and Toste Farm.

Continuing to travel north, you will come across Weetamoo Woods & Pardon Gray Preserve, Old Main Road Woods, Tiverton Town Farm Recreation Area, Audubon Emilie Ruecker Wildlife Refuge, and Nanaquaket Pond. You will soon arrive in Tiverton and complete this route.

2.10 Little Compton Loop

Little Compton Loop - Best Roads and Destinations
Photo Credit:

Traveling northward via Willow Ave until you turn right on Peckham Road. You will be within close proximity to Watson Reservoir and Quicksand/Simmons Mill Pond. Turning back north on Long Highway, you will find the entrance to Simmons Mill Management Area. When you have reached where Brayton Road and Bulgarmarsh Road meet, you will have completed the left side of the loop.

Distance: 23 miles
Time: 41 minutes
Start: Little Compton
End: Little Compton

Riding a short distance on the top side of the loop, you should be able to make out Stafford Pond just north of you. If you are willing to take a slight detour, you can check out Sandywoods Center for the Arts.

Turning southward via Rhode Island Route 81, you will travel parallel to the border between Rhode Island and Massachusetts. This section of the route is typically easy to navigate which makes for a leisurely ride. You should pass by St. Vincent De Paul Camp and Simmons Pond Swamp

Curving back towards Little Compton on the bottom side of the loop, you should be able to discern the surfaces of Quicksand Pond and South Shore Beach. Before you arrive at the final destination, you will swerve close to the outskirts of Wilbur Woods.

3. Motorcycle Laws in Rhode Island

3.1 Rhode Island Motorcycle Helmet Laws

All motorcyclists under the age of 21 are required by law to wear an approved motorcycle helmet while traveling on Rhode Island’s roads and highways. If you are above the age restriction, you are allowed to ride a motorcycle without having a motorcycle helmet strapped on. However, it is best that you have protective headgear since it will help prevent severe or fatal head injuries.

The types of motorcycle helmets accepted in Rhode Island are three-quarter and full-face helmets. These models have been approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation, were manufactured by the Snell Memorial Foundation, and provide both ample protection and visibility.

As you select your motorcycle helmet, check that they meet the following requirements and are designed with the proper features:

  • Has a Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker
  • Can be fitted around your head snugly
  • No visible signs of damage
  • Has a face shield with no scratches (Full-face helmet only)
  • Requires separate eye protection with no scratches (Three-quarter helmet only)
  • Has a hard and durable outer shell that is shatter-resistant
  • Gives you a clear, peripheral view
  • Can be fastened with a neck- or chin-strap
  • Allows airflow without fogging up
  • Can allow you to wear sunglasses or goggles underneath

3.2 Rhode Island Motorcycle Passenger Laws

If you wish to transport another person on your vehicle, keep in mind that there is no minimum age requirement for motorcycle passengers in Rhode Island. However, any passengers under the age of 21 must wear an approved motorcycle helmet if they wish to ride behind you.

It is only legal to transport a passenger on your motorcycle if it is fitted with the following equipment: a designated passenger seat, handholds, and footrests.

The passenger seat can either be fixed to the side as a sidecar, at the rear as a separate saddle, or at the back of a large driver’s seat.

Characteristics to look for in passengers are individuals who listen to directions, follow your movements, cannot be carrying packages in their arms, are wearing protective attire, and can reach the footrests.

3.3 Rhode Island Motorcycle Equipment Requirements

In Rhode Island, you are expected to submit your motorcycle for a safety and vehicle inspection at least once a year before June 20th arrives. Though having your vehicle examined by professionals will make it easier to locate any outstanding mechanical issues, it is suggested you make a habit of checking your motorcycle every time before you embark on a trip. Providing maintenance will ensure you regularly apply repairs, replace broken parts, and ensure your vehicle’s overall functionality.

You need the following minimum requirements fitted to your motorcycle for the vehicle to meet the safety requirements in Rhode Island. They must be working at optimal capacity to help you quickly avoid obstacles, improve your visibility to other drivers, and increase awareness of your surroundings:

  • Horn
  • Wheels
  • Tires
  • Handlebars
  • Front & Rear Brakes
  • Controls
  • Headlight
  • Rear light
  • Brake Light
  • Turn Signals
  • Exhaust System
  • Muffler
  • Rearview Mirrors
  • Fenders
  • Footrests

3.4 Rhode Island Lane Splitting Laws

In Rhode Island, lane splitting is deemed an illegal practice and forbidden for motorcyclists to attempt. You cannot ride on top of the dividing lines in between traffic lanes, ride in between adjacent rows of stopped vehicles, nor attempt to overtake a larger vehicle in front of you while both of you are traveling in the same lane.

Though it is allowed, you should try to refrain from engaging in lane sharing. Motorcyclists are entitled to make full use of the space within their current lane. They can also share a lane with another motorcycle so long as the vehicles stay apart at least two abreast and both parties consent beforehand. You should refrain from engaging in this practice unless you are alongside someone you trust with riding experience.

4. Motorcycle Luggage for Rhode Island Motorcycle Tour

Even if you do not take frequent breaks throughout your entire Rhode Island motorcycle tour, it helps to have a reliable form of storage secured on your vehicle. Whether on the handlebars, windshield, side, or rear, you want a form of baggage that is going to keep your belongings from flying into any vehicles behind you. Though you will spend most of your time on the road, it is a good idea to have utilities and conveniences with you just in case.

Listed below are the motorcycle luggage options you can choose from. All of them have zippered and/or mesh pockets, are made of durable and weather-resistant materials, and come with an installation guide for easy mounting. They differ in terms of design, color, size, and placement position to offer you diverse choices:

5. Parting Words

Before you head out on your Rhode Island motorcycle trip, you should first be mindful of safety by making sure you prepare the necessary protective gear and motorcycle equipment. You should also keep in mind your passenger’s well-being if you carry one with you and what maneuvers on the road are considered legal or illegal.

As you travel via popular routes and visit promising locations in Rhode Island, you will not just have the opportunity to test out your riding skills. You will also be able to admire this state’s natural scenery, places of historical significance, and roadside attractions. While you are operating your vehicle, do not be afraid to take slight detours if you think you are heading to places that will enhance your riding experience.

Remember to be responsible when handling your motorcycle and try to have fun as you prepare to head out on your Rhode Island motorcycle trip.

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