Exploring Newport’s Forty Steps: A Cliff Walk Adventure

A Stairway to Maritime Tales and Oceanfront Tranquility

Welcome to a hidden gem nestled along the rugged coastline of Newport, Rhode Island along the famed Cliff Walk —the Forty Steps. As you descend this historic staircase, you’re not just stepping down, but back in time to an era when these steps were witness to maritime tales, moonlit gatherings, and the ever-present melody of crashing waves. Join us on a journey as we unravel the allure of Newport’s Forty Steps.


A Glimpse into History

The Forty Steps, located at the end of Narragansett Avenue, have long been a silent storyteller of Newport’s maritime past. Built in the 1800s, this stone staircase was once part of a rocky pathway leading to the ocean’s shore. Originally known as Ellison’s Rock, they were a rocky pathway to the ocean’s shore with Conrad’s Cave, just below and to the south of the present steps. It was a place where sailors, fishermen, and locals gathered, their voices intermingling with the sea breeze.


From Gilded Age Hangout to Seaside Serenity

During the Gilded Age (1880-1920), the Forty Steps transformed into a clandestine after-hours hangout for mansion servants seeking respite from their duties. Imagine the whispers of the past as they shared stories, gossiped, and found solace in the camaraderie of the Newport nights. It’s Downtown Abbey on the right on the Atlantic!

In the 1980s, neglect, hurricane damage, and the passage of time rendered the original wooden steps unsafe, leading to their closure. However, the community, recognizing the historical significance, rallied to breathe new life into this maritime landmark.


A Renaissance by the Sea

In the 1990s, local contractors Bob Byron and Russ Johnson spearheaded a reconstruction project, replacing the original wooden steps with sturdy granite ones. As a testament to community spirit, names of contributors were engraved onto the stones, forever leaving their mark on this iconic spot. The Forty Steps emerged from its slumber, welcoming visitors to savor the coastal enchantment once again.


The Experience Today

As you descend the Forty Steps, the salty tang of the ocean fills the air, and the rhythmic symphony of waves crashing against the rocks serenades your senses. The view that unfolds is nothing short of breathtaking—a panoramic canvas where the vast Atlantic meets Newport’s rugged shoreline.

The stone staircase, though not the original, stands as a resilient symbol of Newport’s enduring connection to the sea. Today, locals and visitors alike are drawn to the Forty Steps, finding solace in its timeless beauty and the tranquility it offers.


Know Before You Go

Some quick tips to keep in mind when you’re planning your trip.

1. Sunset Serenity: Visit during the evening to witness a spectacular Newport sunset. The warm hues reflecting off the ocean create a picturesque backdrop.

2. Oceanfront Meditation: Embrace the serenity of the sea. Find a quiet spot, listen to the waves, and let the soothing ambiance transport you to a state of tranquility.

3. Seasonal Splendor: Experience the changing seasons at the Forty Steps. Whether it’s the vibrant bloom of spring flowers or the crisp sea breeze of fall, each season adds its unique charm.

4. Photography Haven: Capture the beauty of Newport’s coastline. The Forty Steps provide a stunning backdrop for photographers looking to freeze a moment in time.

5. Rediscover, Reflect, and Reconnect – The Forty Steps in Newport, RI, invites you to step into a world where history whispers in the breeze, and the sea offers solace to all who seek it. As you descend this symbolic staircase, take a moment to reflect on the tales it holds and the timeless beauty that continues to draw hearts to its rocky embrace. Newport’s Forty Steps—a stairway to maritime nostalgia and oceanfront tranquility.