Cycling the Blackstone River Bikeway in Rhode Island

Blackstone River Bikeway multi-use path in Rhode Island lines with greenery

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The Blackstone River Bikeway in Rhode Island is one of the best cycling paths in the state for its scenery and history. The 10-mile paved path is actually just a portion of the future 48-mile Blackstone River Bikeway that will one day stretch from downtown Worcester, Massachusettes to India Point Park in Providence, Rhode Island.

I rode this 10-mile section and really enjoy it for its beautiful riverside views, buttery pavement, and glimpses into the rich history that Rhode Island is known for.

If you’re heading to the Ocean State and want to explore on two wheels, I highly recommend taking a day or afternoon to cycle this path!

What is the Blackstone River Bikeway?

The Blackstone River Bikeway is a 10+ mile multi-use paved path that winds its way through the heart of Blackstone Valley, an important player in the American Industrial Revolution.

You can peddle past historic mills, the Blackstone Canal, old railroad stations, and the Blackstone River itself.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy the path as a scenic pedal or take a day to really dive into the history lining the bikeway, it’s a great way to experience the area.

Dam with cascading water on the Blackstone River in Rhode Island

A brief history lesson

Blackstone River Bikeway winds its way through the Blackstone River Valley, which was essentially the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century and early 19th century.

The Slater Mill, which you can see along the on-road section of the route in Pawtucket, was the first mill of its kind in America to mechanize cotton production. Before 1793 when the Mill was completed, everything was done by hand. But with the construction of Slater Mill, the cotton machinery was powered by water – thus beginning the age of industrialism.

Slater Mill in Rhode Island
Slater Mill – the mill that kickstarted the American Industrial Revolution

The success of the Slater Mill spurred the construction of more mills and soon the Blackstone River Valley – and eventually the whole of New England – was booming with industrialized production, new towns, and a growing population.

Tasks that were previously done by hand were now being done by machines and time became a commodity.

Learn more about the history of the American Industrial Revolution in the Blackstone River Valley.

Historical marker of the Blackstone River Bikeway with map and photos

Blackstone River Bike Path Map

Currently, the Blackstone River Bikeway multi-use bike path stretches continuously for 10 miles from just outside Woonsocket, Rhode Island in the north to just past a parking area near Lonsdale Marsh in the south.

From Woonsocket to the Massachusetts border, the trail continues on the road for several more miles and then connects back into a short stretch of multi-use path. Eventually, the path will lead to Worchester, Massachusetts.

Blackstone River Bikeway multi-use path lined with vegetation and slow moving river

South of the Lonsdale parking area, the trail continues on a mix of road and multi-use path down to India Point in Providence. The Slater Mill is along this southern stretch.

The map below shows the 17-mile Blackstone River Bikeway:

  • Purple = On-road sections
  • Red = 10-mile continuous Blackstone River Bike Path
  • Green = Multi-use off-road segments

Blackstone River Bikeway Parking

There are a number of parking areas along the Blackstone River Bikeway. These are all marked on the map above.

Best stops along the way

If you want to make a day out of it, there are a lot of great stops and sights along Rhode Island’s Blackstone River Bikeway. If you plan on stopping for food or museums, bring a good bike lock.

Here are a few highlights:

History:

  • Slater Mill – this was the first mill in New England that set off the American Industrial Revolution. Unfortunately, it’s not on the 10-mile paved path section, so you will need to ride on the road a bit (which does have a bike lane).
  • Captain Wilbur Kelly House Transportation Museum – tells the story of how the Blackstone River and canal were used as a means of transportation from the time of the Native people to the pinnacle of the Industrial Revolution.
  • Museum of Work and Culture – located in Woonsocket, this museum tells the story of immigrants who came to America to find a better life in the mill towns along the Blackstone River.
Old mill turned into luxury apartments on the Blackstone River in Rhode Island
Old mill turned into luxury apartments on the Blackstone River

Food:

  • Wildflour Bakery – for amazing baked goods
  • Old Orchard Farm – farm stand located just off the multi-use path
  • Craft Burgers & Beers – for delicious burgers and comfort food
  • Lincoln Creamery – a bit off the multi-use path, but they serve creative ice creams

Nature

  • Blackstone River Gorge – if you pedal through Woonsocket and into Massachusetts, make a stop at the beautiful Blackstone River Gorge.

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What questions do you have about cycling the Blackstone River Bikeway? Is this a ride you’d like to do? Leave a comment below!

Learn everything you need to know about cycling the historic Blackstone River Bikeway in Rhode Island including where to park and more!
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