Recommended parking for mountain bikers is at either the Browning Mill Pond Recreation Area lot, or the Brook Trail lot which accesses Midway Trail.
Mountain biking at the Arcadia Management Area in southern Rhode Island is an outdoor experience not to be missed. At 15,000 acres, it is the largest natural area in the state. An extensive multi-use trail network comprised of over 40 miles of singletrack, gravel and old woods roads ideal for days of mountain biking adventures, criss-cross through and among eskers, rocky ledges, streams, ponds and rhododendron thickets. Mountain bikers, hikers and equestrians will enjoy many scenic vistas and wildlife viewing opportunities while exploring these trails. RI State Route 165 runs east to west and divides Arcadia into two unique sections (north and southern).
The diverse landscapes of the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area, comprised of white pine, mixed deciduous trees, wetlands including freshwater swamps, marshes and ponds and patches of beach sand here and there provide habitat for a wonderful wildlife population of rabbit, deer, fox, raccoon, mink, grouse, wild turkey, pheasant, songbirds, raptors, reptiles amphibians and fish.
Park Special Features include: Stepping Stone Falls, Browning Mill Pond Recreation Area, Breakheart Trail and the Wood River. Breakheart Pond, Beach Pond, and Browning Mill Pond are some of the larger ponds in the area. The Wood River, a scenic and wild river, flows through the management area.
Facilities include: Fireplaces, picnic tables and toilet facilities at the Recreation Areas within the Management Area. There are also two ponds with beaches, overnight shelters, and a backpack camping area.
Arcadia Trail Descriptions:
The trails at the Arcadia Wildlife Management Area cover long distances so mountain bike with a friend or two and bring plenty of water and snacks to keep you going strong, a compass and map. Mountain biking is allowed on most of the trails in the Management Area unless otherwise posted. It will take days of riding to explore them all.
You will find that many of the trails are suitable for most beginner and intermediate mtb riders. Although the terrain is basically flat with little elevation gain overall, there is plenty of fun to be had. The singletrack trails for the most part, wander around and over eskers and drumlins creating many short ups and downs. There are also several challenging, advanced trails that are extremely technical and demanding.
There are too many trails to list them all so I'll just feature a few of the most popular Arcadia Wildlife Management Area trails and some suggested routes.
An interesting 12-mile perimeter loop route that is ideal for intermediate to advanced riders travels mainly on singletrack trails and connects several trails and dirt roads. Begin at the John B. Hudson trailhead off Rhode Island 165, and bike in a counterclockwise direction. This route travels through stands of mountain laurel and up to the shores of Breakheart Pond. It then connects to the Breakheart Trail and eventually meets up with the Escoheag Trail. From the Escoheag trail you can choose amongst several ride options to complete the loop.
Note: All trail distances are one way.
Browning Mill Pond Area:
John B. Hudson Trail: Yellow Dot: 1.6 miles
Trailhead: John B. Hudson sign off RI 165 about 2.5 miles west of RI 3.
From the trailhead, head north on an old logging road. You'll pass a fire tower which overlooks the entire Arcadia Area and enjoy a scenic ride along bubbling Breakheart Brook through stands of mountain laurel until you wind up at Breakheart Pond. At the Pond you have a decision to make. Whether or not to continue onto the Breakheart Trail, a popular local favorite. (see trail description below to see what you will be riding into).
Breakheart Trail: Yellow Dot: 5 miles
Trailhead: Begin on Austin Farm Road.
Ride along the east side of Breakheart Pond and cross Breakheart Brook. Pass through a mixed forest of beech, oak and pine, cross over two more brooks and then climb Penny Hill. Form here, there are views of the countryside through the trees. The route then descends to Falls River Bridge and a junction with the Ben Utter (hiking only) and Escoheag Trails. The overall total elevation gain of this route is a mere 400 feet. It's gradual, nothing to get bent out of shape about.
Tippecansett Trail: Yellow Dot: 9.6 miles
Trailhead: Start at the fire tower on Escoheag Hill Road.
This is the longest trail in the Arcadia Management Wildlife Area system. It is divided ito three equal sections by two highways. Head south through the woods and cross Parris Brook and ride along the east side of Tipacansett Pond. Continue two more miles. (Along the way, you'll pass an intersection with The Blue Dotted Pauchaug Trail (hiking) in Connecticut). Ascend a bluff at Beach Pond, then descend to the beach on RI 165. Cross RI 165 and continue through the woods to the Connecticut/Rhode Island State Line and onto RI 138. (Side spur: A short White Dot side trail leads to the top of Hemlock Ledge which offers a view of Beach Pond). South of 138, the trail leads to interesting rock formations on private property owned by the Boy Scouts, and eventually comes to Yawgoog Road. (I know I don't need to tell you to respect private property boundaries, so I won't).
Escoheag Trail: White Dot: 2 miles
Trailhead: Start at the parking area on Austin Farm Road. You can get there by taking Escoheag Hill Road north from RI 165 at the Escoheag Post Office.
The trail leads to an open shelter and scenic views, then heads east through forest, travels amongst ledges and crosses two valleys. From there the route traverses open country and junctions with the Ben Utter and Breakheart trails.
Mt. Tom Trail: White Dot: 3 miles
Trailhead: Start by heading south on the Arcadia Trail into the woods at the end of parking area on Wood River. It's located just south of Rt 165.
You'll cross a bridge over Parris Brook, follow the brook to another bridge and then climb the Mt. Tom slope. The route then travels along the edge of a steep cliff where you'll be rewarded for your hard work with astounding views and more rocky ledges. The trail crosses RI 165 and eventually junctions with the Escoheag trail.
Note: The meaning of the Trail System Blazes
Yellow Dot Trail System (Yellow Blazes) Denotes the major trail system through the Arcadia Management Area.
White Dot Trail System (White Blazes) These provide access to management area facilities or scenic overlooks and vistas.
Blue Dot Trail System (Blue Blazes) Connects RI hiking trails to the Pauchaug Trail System in Connecticut
For more information:
R.I.DEM, Division of Forest Environment
Phone: (401) 647-1439 or 647-3367