If you are planning a trip to Newport, Rhode Island, you may be wondering if the famed Newport Cliff Walk is dog friendly. Well, I am here to tell you that the cliff walk is indeed dog friendly.
But there are a few things you need to know before taking your dog on the Cliff Walk.
What is the Newport Cliff Walk?
The Newport Cliff Walk is a public right of way that runs along the eastern shoreline of Newport, RI. The path is hidden behind the great mansions of years gone by that line coast.
As the name applies it runs along the cliff offering spectacular views of the bay, rocks and cliffs below. Plus you can get a few sneak peeks of the mansions and their expansive back lawns.
Though, if you want to see the famed Newport mansions I suggest you buy a ticket and see them up close. You will not be disappointed. But you will need to leave your dog behind, since dogs are not allowed on the grounds of the mansions.
History behind the Newport Cliff Walk
We can all thank King Charles II for the Newport Cliff Walk even though the current path was not created during his time. Why you may ask?
Because in 1663, when he granted a charter for Rhode Island, he included the right for all colonists to fish along the shoreline. Meaning no one could be denied access to the coast.
“This doctrine of publicly accessible shores” was later included in Rhode Island’s state constitution.
The public right of way on what eventually became the private property of the rich is still in effect today.
Since the public right of way was granted the cliff walk has undergone many changes. Originally the walk was just a path along the shoreline.
Now the walk features many sections that are paved with fencing to keep you from falling off the cliff. There are even sections with benches to rest a while. You can also find areas along the north end of the path that feature beautiful wild flowers and some trees.
But there are still sections of the walk that remain untouched, mainly on the southern end of the walk. In these areas the terrain can be rocky and can have water run off from the estates making them slippery. A sturdy pair of shoes are in order.
If you or your dog has mobility issues you may want to skip the southern end of the walk. But if you are able to walk on rough terrain the views are worth the trip.
Newport Cliff Walk Dog Friendly Map
The city of Newport provides a map of the walk. This map shows you the paved sections, rough areas and all the exits to local streets.
You can find a hard copy of the map at the forty steps or at the beginning of the walk near Easton Beach. You can also find a copy of the Newport Cliff Walk Map here
10 Dog Friendly Newport Cliff Walk Basics
1. Are dogs allowed on Newport Cliff Walk?
As you can see by the signs below, the Newport Cliff Walk is open to dogs that are on a leash. But you must clean up after your pet.
The city provides clean up mitts at the north end of the walk near Easton Beach and also at the forty steps. But please remember to bring your own in case they run out or stop providing them.
If you are wondering what else you can do with your dog around Newport, RI, check out our posts on Newport, RI: Dog Friendly Things to Do, Block Island – Dog Friendly Things To Do and Places to Eat and Historic Wickford Village: A Dog Friendly Trip To The Past
2. How long is the Cliff Walk in Rhode Island?
From start to finish the Cliff Walk is just under 3.5 miles one way. But the paved portion from the start near Easton Beach to the Ruggles Avenue exit is 1.2 miles.
The paved section does go a little past the Ruggles Avenue exit but you will need to walk over large rocks to get to the next exit at Marine Ave.
From the beginning of the paved path to Marine Ave is approximately 1.6 miles.
Of course you can just turn around when you reach the end of the paved section and stay on the path for the trip back to the start.
Dog Friendly Cliff Walk Return Trip
If you want to walk the entire length with your pup you have a few choices for your return trip. You can retrace your steps and walk back 3.5 miles for a total of 7 miles.
Or you can get off the path at Bailey’s Beach and walk along the tree lined streets back to start. If you choose the shortest route back to the start it will cut off about 1 mile from the return trip, plus it is an easier walk.
Newport does offer a trolley with stops near the beginning and end of the cliff walk but does not allow pets.
3. Is the Newport Cliff Walk Free?
The Newport, RI Cliff walk is free. You can start your walk at any of the entrances, but most people start at the north end near Easton Beach and walk south.
4. Where should you park for the Cliff Walk in Newport RI?
Most people park near Easton’s Beach on the north end of the Cliff Walk. You can either park on Memorial Blvd or in the Easton’s Beach parking lot. Both are paid parking.
You can also find paid parking on Narragansett Ave near the forty steps on the Cliff Walk. In addition to street parking you will also find bathrooms and water fountains here.
In all cases you will want to get to the cliff walk early since the parking fills up quickly.
5. Where does the Newport Cliff Walk begin and end?
The Newport Cliff walk begins on the north end of the walk near Easton Beach and ends at Bailey’s Beach in the south.
6. Are there bathrooms at Newport Cliff Walk?
Public bathrooms and water fountains can be found at Easton’s Beach and near the 40 Steps entrance. Restrooms are only open seasonally.
If you purchased tickets to see the mansions you can also take a break from the walk to see the mansions and use the bathroom. But remember dogs are not allowed on the mansion’s grounds.
7. What is the best time to go to the Cliff Walk?
During the summer months the best time to go to the Cliff Walk is early morning before the crowds come around 11:00am.
When we went for the first time on a Monday in June, we arrived around 9:30 and there were already people on the walk but it became really crowded by noon.
The Newport Cliff Walk is open from sunrise to sunset. On a previous trip we visited the cliff walk very early in the morning and watched the sun come up.
8. What to bring on the Cliff Walk?
If you are planning to walk the entire Cliff Walk in one day make sure to wear a comfortable but sturdy pair of sneakers or shoes. The unpaved portion of the path can be slippery.
Plus bring plenty of water for you and your pup. You may want to also bring a snack but they do not allow picnicking along the walk.
If you forget to bring water or run out, you can hop off the cliff walk near The Breakers and stop by the Welcome Center Cafe to pick up a bottle of water and a quick snack to take with you.
The Welcome Center Cafe is located just inside The Breakers’ gates. Your pup will need to remain outside though
Don’t forget the sunscreen and a hat. There is very little shade during the day along the path.
9. Cliff Walk Detour
In March of 2022 the Newport Cliff Walk suffered damage to a section of the walk between Narragansett Ave and Webster Ave. Approximately 20 feet of the walkway fell into the bay. This portion of the walk is now closed to the public. A short detour is available for people who want to continue the walk past this spot. Just follow the signs for the detour.
10. Newport Cliff Walk Trail Markers
There are 16 Trail Markers along the path that describe various sights along the walk. You can access the information by using your smartphone to scan the QR codes. These trail markers offer information on both publicly accessible and private points of interest.
You can also download the free VisitNewport APP at your APP store. Make sure you download the free app. There is also a paid visit Newport app available.
8 Things That Make The Newport Cliff Walk Not Dog Friendly
Although the Newport Cliff Walk allows leashed dogs on its path there are a few things you need to watch out for as you make your way.
1. Not All Dogs Are Leashed
As we walked along the Cliff Walk we discovered that not everyone on the walk followed the rules and kept their dogs on a leash. In fact we came across two dogs on different occasions that were walking along with their owners unleashed.
The first was running alongside a jogger. In this case the dog stayed close to their owner and did not get distracted by other dogs or people on the walk.
The second unleashed dog we encountered was when we were walking along the rough section of the walk.
In this case they did leash up the dog before we passed them. But the other dog, which was a large German Shepherd, came right up to our 20 pound mini doodle and let out a deep growl as they passed. This was not a pleasant experience for us or our dog.
2. The Path Is Narrow At Points
Due to the overgrowth of natural bushes in some sections, the path can become very narrow. This requires you to walk in a single file to pass someone coming in the opposite direction.
While this is not a big deal for the most part, it can be an issue if you have a dog that becomes uncomfortable in tight areas.
There are also sections of the unpaved parts that also require you to pass very close to an oncoming person.
3. Poison Ivy
If you look carefully you will find poison ivy growing all along the cliff walk. The thick brush and wild flowers makes the perfect environment for poison ivy to hide in.
Although a dog’s fur will generally protect them from the rash, it is possible for you to come in contact with the poison ivy oils if your dog rubs against the plant and then rubs on you. It has happened to me a few times.
4. Difficult path in places
While about 2/3rds of the path is paved or at least an easy walk, the rest of the path can be hazardous for you and your dog. At times you will need to traverse large boulders that can be wet or have sand on them.
There are some places that you will need to climb uphill and some areas where your dog will need to climb steep stairs. Puddles caused by water runoff from the mansions can also be found along the unpaved section of the trail.
In addition there are no barriers on the unpaved portion of the trail to prevent someone or animal from falling off the cliff.
We ended up carrying our small pup for a short section of the rocky terrain after she slipped into a puddle.
5. Close to the edge
Portions of the trail run very close to the ridge. At some points you may not realize just how close you are due to the bushes that line the walk.
If you go on a hot day try to go early and make sure to bring plenty of water. There is very little shade along the path.
7. No exits on southern end of the walk
Unlike the northern end of the cliff walk which has 8 exits, the southern end of the walk only has one exit near the end of the difficult trail.
There are two tunnels along the walk. The first tunnel is fairly short and you can see out to the other side.
The second tunnel is longer and curved. There are also stairs in this tunnel and part of the path can be muddy.
Although there are some concerns with the Cliff walk that make it less dog friendly, we made the walk safely with our 20 pound pup. We are very glad that we decided to try it.
If you are looking for more dog friendly travel ideas check out our post on Dog Friendly Guide to Cape Cod.