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The Blackstone River Bikeway in Rhode Island is one of the best cycling paths in the state for its beautiful scenery and rich New England history.
The flat path follows the banks of the Blackstone River and passes by historic mills, important landmarks, cultural sites, and more.
While the full Blackstone River Greenway will eventually connect downtown Worcester, Massachusettes to India Point Park in Providence, Rhode Island, the best section to bike is the 11.6-mile off-road section between Woonsocket and Londsdale.
I rode this section of the Blackstone River Bikeway as an out-and-back (20 miles total) and really enjoyed it for its beautiful riverside views, buttery pavement, and glimpses into the rich history that Rhode Island is known for.
In this post, I share everything you need to know about pedaling the Blackstone River bike path including where to start, where to rent bikes, the best stops along the way, and more.
How Long is the Blackstone River Bikeway?
This is actually a little confusing and there are a few different answers based on who you ask and what you consider to be the “Blackstone River Bikeway”
Where to Rent Bikes
Blackstone Bicycles is your best bet for renting bikes for the bike path. They’re located just a short pedal from the bikeway and offer several options for rentals from cruisers to gravel bikes. Rentals are $30 for the day and come with a helmet.
Bike Path & Rail Trail Gear Favorites
Below are a few of my favorite pieces of biking and recommendations for your bike path and rail trail adventures:
A brief history lesson
The Blackstone River Bikeway winds its way through the heart of Blackstone Valley. This area 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. However, with the construction of Slater Mill, the cotton machinery was powered by water – thus beginning the age of industrialism.
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.
parking & Where to start
There are a number of parking areas along the Blackstone River Bikeway, but I recommend parking at the parking lot near Lonsdale Marsh and riding north toward Woonsocket.
Alternatively, you could park at the River’s Edge parking area north of Woonsocket and ride south (the section through the town of Woonsocket is on road).
The path is essentially flat, so it’s easy in both directions.
Blackstone River Bikeway Map
This map shows the bikeway from India Point to Millville past Woonsocket. It will eventually extend north to Worcester.
You can also continue on paved trail past India Point via the East Bay Bike Path.
- Green line = Paved multi-use path (this is the section I recommend riding)
- Purple line = On-road section with bike lane through Woonsocket
- Red line = Mix of on-road and multi-use path from Lonsdale to India Point
The 11.6-mile stretch between Woonsocket and Lonsdale (20 miles roundtrip) is almost all uninterrupted multi-use path and passes by some of the more interesting sites and stops (see below).
Of course, you can turn around at any point to make your ride shorter.
Best stops along the Blackstone River Bikeway
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 Greenway. If you plan on stopping for food or museums, bring a good bike lock.
Here are a few highlights:
- Slater Mill – This was the first mill in New England that set off the American Industrial Revolution. It is now part of the National Park System and you can take a guided tour or explore on your own.
- 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.
- Swan Point Cemetary – a beautiful cemetery with historic graves like the American writer HP Lovecraft.
- Goodstuff Smokehouse – Located over the border in Mass, this is a popular place for BBQ and beer
- Christopher’s Kitchen & Bar – Farm to table food in Woonsocket
- Ciro’s Tavern – Old English style pub in Woonsocket
- Old Orchard Farm – farm stand located just off the Blackstone bike path in Manville
- Lincoln Creamery – a bit off the multi-use path, but they serve creative ice creams. It’s near the main parking area
If you pedal south of the main parking area at Lonsdale Marsh, there are lots of great places to eat as you near Providence. Just know that the multi-use path ends so you’ll be riding on bike lanes.
- Craft Burgers & Beers – For delicious burgers and comfort food.
- Wildflour Bakery – For amazing baked goods
- Seven Stars Bakery – Another place to grab some baked goods or a sandwich
- Wara Wara – Authentic Japanese food
- KNEAD Donuts – Award-winning donuts
- Blackstone River Gorge – If you pedal through Woonsocket and into Massachusetts, make a stop at the beautiful Blackstone River Gorge.
I really enjoyed my day pedaling along the 11-mile stretch of the Blackstone River Bikeway between Lonsdale and Woonsocket.
It’s mostly a flat pedal and follows the banks of the Blackstone River. There is so much history and culture along the way as well as lots of great places to stop for food and drinks, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to enjoy this Rhode Island gem!
What questions do you have about pedaling the Blackstone River Bikeway? Is this a ride you’d like to do? Leave a comment below!