Cliff Walk, Newport, Rhode Island

Cliff Walk, which stretches along Newport’s shoreline, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Newport, Rhode Island. Many believe that the now well-defined path that makes up the Walk was first outlined by the local fauna, comprised mainly of deer. After the deer came the Narragansett Indians and the colonials. During the 1800s, many of the rich folk of New York spent their summers in the undeveloped shoreline which is now Cliff Walk. Several Gilded Age mansions were built overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, and during the 1880s, land developers started putting money into the improvement of the Walk. Unfortunately, this development was cut short when the Great Depression hit. Thankfully, during the 1970s the engineers of the U.S. Army Corps started the restoration of the Walk.

More improvements were made in the 1980s as a result of funds from the National Park Service Land and Water Conservation Fund. Damages caused by two previous hurricanes were addressed, and retaining walls were put up to counter erosion and to ensure the safety of the people using the Walk. However, there is still a lot to be done. Disappointingly, the past Newport City Councils did not prioritize the development of Cliff Walk.

Cliff Walk is also now a National Recreation Trail, which is 3.5 miles in length. It starts at Memorial Blvd. at the western part of Easton’s Beach (also known as Newport’s First Beach), and it has a number of exits which include those in Narragansett Avenues, Webster Street, Sheppard Avenue, Ruggles Avenue, Marine Avenue, Ledge Road, and Bellevue Avenue. However, the breath-taking setting will surely distract anyone walking along the Cliff Walk from noticing its otherwise tiresome length.

Cliff Walk is lined with the most colorful and fragrant of wildflowers. The chirping of the birds that fly above it blends with the sounds of the water splashing against the cliff walls. The Cliff Walk is a place right out of the fairytales. Walkers should be careful not to be deceived by the Walk’s charm. Some parts of the Walk, especially the southern half, are extremely dangerous. The heavy foliage, beautiful as it is, sometimes conceals drops and dips in the Cliff Walk’s topography. The occasional jagged rocks and the slippery sand do not do anything to help. And to top it all off, during some seasons, Poison Ivy grows in abundance along the Walk.

Still, despite all the dangers people must face when walking along Newport’s historic Cliff Walk, the natural splendor that engulfs anyone who is fortunate enough to walk along the shoreline makes the effort worthwhile. Tourists who are interested in visiting the Cliff Walk will benefit from reading the Cliff Walk Book. It is a heavily illustrated and fact-intensive book which can practically serve as a tour guide.