|Block Island Bike Tour Routes|
|Bicycling on Block Island is one of the prime reasons to come here. Several itineraries for Block Island bike tours are tried and true.|
Northern Island Bike Route
I'd suggest that your first bike ride be north from Old Harbor to Settlers' Rock and North Light, 4 miles (6.5 km) one-way, 8 miles (13 km) round-trip if you make no detours. At an average speed of 10 to 12 miles per hour, the entire round-trip ride takes less than an hour, although you'll want to stop to see the sights, walk the nature trails, take a swim, etc.
Ride out of Old Harbor along Water Street and Dodge Street, then turn right on Corn Neck Road, which will take you all the way to the northern tip of the island (map).
Along the way you'll pass Fred Benson Town Beach, the best swimming and sunning spot and the only beach with full facilities. It's just off the road, easy of access, with a bike rack.
Three miles (5 km) north of Old Harbor, on the right (east) off Corn Neck Road is a marker for the Clay Head Nature Trail. Ride 0.4 miles (644 meters) along a unpaved, stabilized road to the trailhead parking area. Lock your bike to the bike rack and walk 0.3 mile (500 meters, 10 minutes) along the nature trail to the rock-strewn beach framed by the high sandy cliffs of Clay Head. The surf can be strong here, and there are no facilities (and no lifeguard), but it's a beautiful spot to spend a few minutes.
North of the Clay Head road and nature trail is a network of walking trails on private land known as the Maze.
Back on your bike, continue the final mile to the north tip of the island and Settlers' Rock, where the paved road ends in a parking area and bike rack. The Settlers' Rock monument, erected in 1911, marks the spot where the island's first English settlers landed in 1661, and bears the names of the first male inhabitants. (Uh, we assume there were women as well....)
If you like, lock your bike to the rack opposite the monument and walk the half-mile (800 meters) along the sandy shore of Cow Cove through the seagull-thronged Block Island National Wildlife Refuge to Sandy Point and the North Light. The granite lighthouse dates from 1867 and is now open ($3) Thursday through Monday from 10 am to 4 pm, weather permitting, as an Interpretive Center.
Old Harbor to New Harbor
It's short (10 to 15 minutes one-way), easy and interesting: ride out of Old Harbor along Water Street and Dodge Street to Ocean Avenue, and follow this for 1.3 miles (2 km) all the way to New Harbor (10 to 15 minutes).
At New Harbor, enjoy the view of the Great Salt Pond and perhaps a drink, snack or meal at a restaurant.
Southern Island Loops
The southern part of Block Island presents more bike route choices: you can go for a mile or two, you can make a 10-mile (16-km), 60- to 90-minute loop of the entire southern half of the island, or you can ride part of the big loop then cut across the island eastward back to Old Harbor to shorten your outing.
Southeast Lighthouse & Mohegan Bluffs
A suitable Block Islandish goal for your first southern bike trip is the Southeast Lighthouse about 1.5 miles (2.25 km) due south of Old Harbor.
Spring Street changes names to become Southeast Light Road and Mohegan Trail, which traces the heights of Mohegan Bluffs.
For top- and bottom (sea-level) views of the bluffs, stop at Payne's Overlook, have an overlook, the descend the 150 stairs to the beach for a view from the bottom of the bluffs.
From Mohegan Bluffs you can loop back to Old Harbor on Pilot Hill Road (no mopeds allowed) and High Street, a 3.4-mile (5.5-km) loop taking 25 to 35 minutes.
Big Southern Loop
Want to loop all around the southern part of the island? From Southeast Lighthouse and Mohegan Bluffs, keep heading west along Mohegan Trail.
Down the hill to the west of Southeast Lighthouse, if you want some beach time, turn left (south) to reach Snake Hollow. Leave your bike at the head of the tortuous path and walk down to Vail Beach. More...
Back on the main road, you can turn north on paved Lakeside Drive, or continue westward then northward along unpaved Black Rock Road. Between these two routes is Rodman's Hollow, a large forested glacial ravine now protected as a wildlife refuge. Hiking trails wind through the reservation with trailheads on Black Rock Road and Cooneymus Road.
Lakeside Drive to Old Harbor
If you're not interested in riding the entire Big Southern Loop, continue north along Lakeside Drive, Center Road and Old Town Road back to Old Harbor, making your trip a 6-mile (10-km) loop in about an hour.
West Side Loop
To ride more, from Lakeside Drive turn left (west) at Cooneymus Road, then right (north) on West Side Road. (Cooneymus Road continues straight west to Cooneymus Beach.)
Less than a mile north along West Side Road, an unpaved road on the left, Dorry's Beach Road, goes over a steep but short hill to the sea at Dorry's Beach.
A few minutes farther along, the unpaved Beacon Hill Road goes off to the right (east) and can take you back to Old Harbor via Old Town Road past the Block Island Airport if you've had enough riding for the day.
Otherwise, continue north on the Northwest Loop: along West Side Road past Grace's Cove Road on the left (north) to Grace's Cove Beach, and Champlin Road (unpaved) to Charleston Beach and the old Coast Guard Station at the cut on Harbor Neck.
West Side Road then continues eastward to Ocean Avenue. Turn left on Ocean Avenue for New Harbor, or right for Old Harbor.
—by Tom Brosnahan