There’s an old saying that says if you can talk the talk, you should be able to walk the walk. When talking about Block Island’s stunning natural beauty, there’s quite a bit to discuss. This lovely community off Rhode Island’s shore is so enchanting, it has often been referred to as “the Bermuda of the north.” That’s quite high praise indeed. And so if we are ready to take such talk to the next level, then it’s time to put it to the test with a little walking — walking on the outstanding greenway trails the island has to offer! If you’re the sort of person who simply loves to take a stroll in the great outdoors with gorgeous views (and let’s face it, that’s probably one of the reasons you’ve come here) then prepare to fall in love for real.
These aren’t trails where you’ll have to be worrying about wheels coming at you. Obviously, cars don’t operate here, but there are not even bike paths to be found. This is strictly a system set aside exclusively for hiking, and it’s some very rewarding hiking indeed. If you are looking for wildlife, prepare to share your time with all manner of critters enjoying the day with you. Seaside vistas welcome those who find such maritime scenarios charming and reinvigorating. In fact, this is the perfect place for anyone who thrives being in the outdoors and seeking the grace of the natural wonders that both humble us and lift us up in the same breath.
It’s always a reaffirming experience to come across wild creatures when enjoying a hike. Being reminded that we are not alone in this world and that the majesty of nature comes in great diversity somehow makes us feel closer to the Earth. Block Island’s greenway trails have plenty of wildlife-watching opportunities all along its miles and miles of windswept wonder. Birders will be thrilled to hear the mesmerizing sound of the yellow warbler. Or perhaps you will catch some of the many migratory species as they stop over on their traverses north or south.
Over on the shores, keep an eye out for seals lazing on rocks or frolicking in the waves. Keen scanning can often reveal pods of dolphins and even whales breaching within sight of the trails. And, of course, in the warmer months, monarch butterflies will grace the greenery. At the oceans’ edge, the great egret will likely greet you. Rare beetles and even some bats will be found here. But don’t expect deer or squirrels. Wild land mammals don’t make their home here.
While we all love watching our fauna making their way in the wild, there can be no understating the allures of the flora that makes it all possible. The plant world is the underpinning to all life, and that includes Block Island. The main feature in that regard is the seemingly endless sea of green represented by the coastal shrubbery. Hugging the rolling topography, these emerald waves of grass and plants are shaped by the salty breezes, ever beckoning hikers for another look over the next rise.
Flowers bloom here, adding color to the scene. The daffodil season brings hues of wonder when in bloom. Native black-eyed Susans open up in sunshiny yellows. Goldenrods gleam as they live up to their name. In fact, as a designated “Last Great Place” in America, a number of rare species lay their roots here and are a special focus of conservation. As you enjoy all of the scenery, remember that individual stewardship is highly valued, and each hiker represents an opportunity to maintain this magnificent place for future generations.
Besides all the wonderful creatures and plant life that live on the soil of Block Island, there must be something said for the geography of the place itself and the features that define how the wildlife make their home here. Postcard-perfect cliffs edge many places along the coast, rising from the sea with sandy strata that could have come from English fairytales. Rolling contours shaped by receding glaciers millennia ago create a series of climbs and descents that offer new views around every corner. “Kettle holes” also left behind by the glaciers create depressions in the land that give the landscape more features to make room for meadows. Offshore, sandbars create a lovely trim at the ocean’s edge. And rocky tidal pools allow for the discovery of ebb tide communities.