North South Trail
Only in Rhode Island could a trans-state trail be just 70 miles long. The North South Trail, part of Rhode Island's extensive greenway system, follows footpaths, dirt fire roads, farm roads, and frequent stretches of asphalt as it links eight state wildlife-management areas in the western part of the state, from Massachusetts to the Atlantic. A few rocky hills add challenge to forest and farm meandering. Trailside tenting is limited, but possible.
Contact: North South Trail Council, 27 Post Road, Warwick, RI 02888.
Arcadia Management Area
Webbing through and among Arcadia's granite ledges, rocky ridges, brooks, ponds, and leafy oak forest is a 100-plus-mile network of trails and old fire roads. The area is popular with dayhikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers, but backpackers can escape to several hike-in campsites along the Shelter-Yellow Dot-Arcadia Trails.
Contact: Arcadia Management Area, (401) 539-2356.
Ninigret Conservation Area
Rhode Island's ocean coastline is packed with barrier dunes, bird-filled tidal ponds, wave-tossed beaches-and houses, sunbathers, and parking lots. Ninigret Beach provides the longest undeveloped strip: 3 miles to a breachway, yielding a
6-mile round-trip. Enjoy the birds in Ninigret National Wildlife Refuge, then car camp at Burlingame State Park.
Contact: Burlingame State Park, (401) 322-8910, www.riparks.com/burlinga.htm.