Lincoln Woods State Park: The Complete Guide

Horseback Riding at Lincoln Woods State Park in RI

Courtesy of Kim Knox Beckius

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Lincoln Woods State Park

Address
2 Manchester Print Works Rd, Lincoln, RI 02865, USA
Phone +1 401-723-7892

In the northeast corner of Rhode Island, just about as far from the Atlantic as you can be in the tiny Ocean State, Lincoln Woods State Park is a captivating recreational destination. In the Blackstone Valley Region, on 627 densely treed acres surrounding Olney Pond, you can participate in traditional and truly unique activities year-round. You'll discover a side of Rhode Island most casual tourists miss. Named for Abraham Lincoln and officially founded on what would have been the president's 100th birthday in 1909, it's the oldest park in the Rhode Island State Parks system, and it's been a place of escape for Providence residents and visitors ever since.

H.P. Lovecraft, famed author of weird and science fiction, was one Providence notable known to wander these woods for inspiration. In a letter penned from the park, he once wrote: "If you want to know what beauty is—sheer abstract loveliness raised to the nth power—just ramble through a rural New England landscape in October." Fall is an excellent time to visit Lincoln Woods, but each season holds distinct possibilities for outdoor fun, which this guide will help you explore.

Things to Do

The covered bridge entrance on Breakneck Hill Road is the most scenic route into the park, but however you enter Lincoln Woods, you'll soon find yourself in a realm where water, rocks, and horses provide the chief thrills. The sandy beach on Olney Pond is a favorite summertime destination, and lifeguards are on duty from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. in-season. In addition to swimming in sun-warmed freshwater and fishing for bass and trout, you can canoe or kayak: Providence Kayak offers single and tandem kayak rentals at Lincoln Woods.

Giant glacial boulders are a distinguishing feature of the park, and most kids and grown-ups can find climbable ones—if only for a photo op.) You'll quickly notice that many daredevils are clinging like Spiderman to these glacial erratics, scaling them the hard way. Lincoln Woods is one of New England's best spots for bouldering: a mini-rock-climbing adventure that is a sport in its own right. Bouldering enthusiasts have given these granite masses names like Ship's Prow and Potato. Several online and print guides detail the boulders' locations, problems (specific routes up the boulder), and difficulty level. Even if you are not interested in making Lincoln Woods your own outdoor rock gym, you'll find bouldering a fascinating spectator sport.

Horseback riding is another unique activity that transports you back to when life was less frantic. Sunset Stables offers guided trail rides in Lincoln Woods by reservation year-round. Riders must be at least 8 years old.

Other popular Lincoln Woods State Park activities include picnicking, jogging, mountain biking (on designated trails), and hiking during the warm-weather months. For the best on-foot introduction to the park, walk the Lincoln Woods Trail, a 3.1-mile easy loop.

More Hikes & Trails

This is Rhode Island, so there are no dramatic ascents here, but two additional trails allow hikers to explore other areas of Lincoln Woods State Park:

  • Les Pawson Loop Trail: Paved, gentle, and flat, this 2.9-mile loop around Olney Pond is an easy walk, but you'll need to be alert for road bikes and vehicle traffic.
  • Upper Pond MTB Loop: A 6.9-mile loop with many offshoots, this trail system is primarily the domain of mountain bikers, but it's shared by hikers who are up for a moderate challenge. Markers pointing the way are lacking, so you'll want to use a smartphone app or map.

Winter Activities

When leaves have vanished from trees and these woodlands have fallen quiet, Sunset Stables' horseback trail rides—in up to four feet of snow—are one of the best-guided winter excursions you can embark on in all of New England. There are so many other reasons, though, to visit Rhode Island's most complete destination for outdoor winter recreation. When frozen, Olney Pond is a popular spot for ice fishing and ice skating. Along trails, you'll see animal tracks and hear the flutter and call of birds, whether you hike or don cross-country skis or snowshoes. There are hill slopes for sledding, and snowmobiling is allowed on designated roadways.

Where to Camp

There is no campground at Lincoln Woods State Park, but there are several camping options within about a half-hour drive, including:

  • Holiday Acres Campground: A family-friendly campground in North Scituate, Rhode Island, accommodates campers and RVs of all sizes and rents a handful of cute cabins. Amenities here include a game room, an adults-only rec room, and a camp store.
  • Normandy Farms Family Camping Resort: An upscale destination in Foxboro, Massachusetts, with sites for RVs and tents, as well as campers and cabins, safari tents, and yurts for those who prefer glamping over camping. Why live without a Keurig and heat, right? Plus, enjoy massages at the Wellness Center, four pools including an indoor pool and Jacuzzi, a fitness center, and a multitude of other recreational facilities, including a bike park, a dog park, an 18-hole disc golf course, a fishing pond, sports fields and courts, nature trails, and an RC track.
  • George Washington State Campground: An affordable camping option within the 4,000-acre George Washington Management Area in Glocester, Rhode Island. There are 45 sites for tents, trailers, and RVs on the shores of Bowdish Reservoir, but electrical and other hookups are not available, and amenities are few. Outdoor recreation opportunities are abundant, however. The campground operates seasonally from the second weekend in April through October. Reservations should be made online.

Where to Stay Nearby

The contrast to the peace of the park will be stark, but the closest place to stay is the hotel at Bally's Twin River, Rhode Island's 24/7 gaming and entertainment destination in Lincoln. If you're visiting Lincoln Woods in the winter, though, you may really appreciate the hotel's indoor pool with its fireplace wall. 

Other lodging options within about a 10-minute drive include the Courtyard by Marriott Providence Lincoln and the very basic and affordable Attleboro Motor Inn, located across the state line in Attleboro, Massachusetts.

How to Get There

Lincoln Woods State Park is roughly an hour and 15 minutes from Boston, and it's just 6 miles—about a 15-minute trip—from Rhode Island's capital city, Providence. If you need to utilize public transportation, you can get to Providence by RIPTA, Greyhound, or Peter Pan bus, then call a taxi or ride service. The main entrance for Lincoln Woods State Park is at 2 Manchester Print Works Road in Lincoln, Rhode Island. There is no fee to enter and enjoy the park. However, there is a $5 per day fee to use a picnic table. Separate charges apply for activities like kayak rentals, field rentals, and horseback riding.

Accessibility

Visitors who use wheelchairs will find the paved Les Pawson Loop Trail and an accessible fishing area on Olney Pond to be two aspects of the park they might enjoy. On-site assistance is available to disabled patrons, and the best way to learn more and make advance arrangements is to call the regional office at 401-723-7892. ADA-accessible picnic tables are not available at this time. Holiday Acres, a private campground nearby, offers accessible RV sites.

Tips for Your Visit

  • Your leashed dog may join you on hiking trails.
  • Dogs and bikes are not allowed on trails reserved for horses.
  • Motorized boats (less than 10 hp) are permitted except on weekends and holidays between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
  • If you are new to bouldering, you may want to invest in essentials like a guidebook, climbing chalk, and a crash pad.
  • Review ice safety tips before you ice skate or ice fish.
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Discover a Different Side of Rhode Island at Lincoln Woods State Park