Located only 30 miles south of Providence is the picturesque city, Newport, Rhode Island. Newport is home to some of the nation’s most impressive mansions including The Breakers, Ochre Court, Rough Point, and many more. The Cliff Walk along with the Newport mansions, are among the most popular Newport, Rhode Island attractions. Once you begin walking the path you’ll see why.
The Newport Cliff Walk is a three and a half mile trail along part of the perimeter of the seaside city. On one side you have an incredible view of the beautiful blue Atlantic Ocean, and on the other side you can see some of the famous mansions from the back side along with some other large homes.
This is the starting point of the Cliff Walk. The beach, Easton’s Beach, is accessible to the public, however, there is sometimes red algae which one may want to be aware of. Activities such as swimming and surfing can be done here. As you begin walking along the trail, you can see an assortment of large, ornate houses on the right side.
Most of the trees were bare since we visited Newport in late March. However, the nature was still absolutely beautiful all throughout the trail.
Narrow Sidewalks and Passageways
Many parts of the Cliff Walk consist of narrow passageways. Take proper precautions and be careful while navigating around these parts. Dog owners can walk their dogs along the Cliff Walk, however, they must keep in mind that in some parts, such as these, there may be some poison ivy.
There are a multitude of caution signs scattered throughout the Cliff Walk to ensure safety. The Cliff Walk is paved and for the most part has many railings, however, do not get too close to the side of the cliff.
Cliff Walk Nature and More
The Cliff Walk has a large quantity of trees sprinkled throughout, along with plants and large assorted rocks. The majority of the vegetation was not in season because, as I mentioned, we visited Newport in the winter. If you look down towards the base of the cliff, there are a variety of different sized rocks submersed in the water.
As you walk further along the trail, you can look behind you to see the town from a distance.
During the middle of the day, around 1pm-4pm, the sunlight reflects off of the water in a way that makes the water look as if it is sparkling.
The Forty Steps
At about a mile into the Cliff Walk are the Forty Steps. The Forty Steps used to be a gathering spot for servants and other people who worked in the mansions during the Gilded Age. Now, however, visitors can climb down these steps (each one decorated with the name of a donor) and climb up on the large rocks below to get a spectacular view of the ocean and other interesting things. You must be very careful when climbing from rock to rock because most of them are covered in a layer of slippery algae. I’m not going to lie, I did slip a few times while jumping from rock to rock.
As I reached the bottom of the steps, I wandered around a little bit with my dad, and we stumbled upon this little cave. The rocks surrounding it were covered in algae which meant they were super slippery, however, we tried our best to get as close as possible to take cool pictures. The rocks are so slippery that we witnessed a man fall waist-deep into the water surrounding this cave.
Some Mansions Visible from Cliff Walk
Ochre Court was built in the year 1891 for the Goelet family. Even though these house owners weren’t as well know as, let’s say, the Vanderbuilts, the Goelets were amongst the largest land owners in the state of New York. The main purpose of most of the mansions in Newport were to serve as “summer cottages” for wealthy families.
Sadly, only one generation of the Goelets lived in Ochre Court. It was then presented to the Diocese of Providence, who then re-gifted it several years later. It was turned into a school. Today, this mansion houses several offices. Ochre Point may look familiar to you because it was shown in the beginning scene of the movie True Lies. It was also visible in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie where it functioned as a Swiss chateau.
Like most of the mansions in Newport, Rough Point was influenced by the Gilded Age. This stunning mansion was built for Frederick Vanderbilt in 1887. This mansion was recently owned by philanthropist Doris Duke up until her death in 1993. The home now functions as a museum featuring pieces by Renoir, Gainsborough and also van Dyck.
The Breakers is the largest mansion in all of Newport. It is located at the end of the Cliff Walk. The Breakers was built in as little as two years (1893-1895). The total cost of the mansion was 7 million dollars (equivalent to approximately $150 million today). Now a national landmark, this amazing establishment used to be home to Cornelius Vanderbilt, or at least in the summer months.
Extra Information About the Cliff Walk
The Newport Cliff Walk is open year round from sunup to sundown each day. In the late winter when I went, most of the trees are bare and there are patches of snow left on the ground. However, if you visit in the spring or summer you will see beautiful vegetation and flowers all around.
The Cliff Walk is for people all ages, but for young children or seniors it may seem very long. The entire trail is roughly three and a half miles long from start to finish. Make sure to bring plenty of water to keep hydrated during your adventure.
The Newport Cliff Walk is fun for the entire family. All in all, this attraction is enjoyable for everyone, and you definitely would want to bring your camera!