Time to dust off your bike helmets and get outside for an invigorating bike ride through the diverse terrain of Cape Cod. This tiny spit of sand boasts miles of paved bike paths that suit both novice and expert cyclists. However, it helps to know a little bit about what you’re getting into when you hop on your two-wheeler and venture into uncharted territory. With a little advance planning along with this guide to Cape Cod biking paths, you’ll be ready for a rewarding day pedaling your way through sand dunes and salt marshes.
When you stay at the Captain Farris House in historic Bass River Village in South Yarmouth, MA, you’ll be in the heart of Cape Cod. From our location you can head north, south, east, or west to any number of well-marked and maintained bike paths. Read on for what to expect on all of Cape Cod’s lovely bike trails.
Cape Cod Rail Trail
The paved Cape Cod Rail Trail runs 28 miles from South Dennis to Wellfleet. Although the terrain is relatively flat, you will encounter some minor grades in Orleans and Wellfleet. Of all the bike paths on Cape Cod, this route offers the most variety in scenery and natural landscapes.
Biking the Cape Cod Rail Trail is a wonderful way to spend a Cape Cod spring, summer, or fall day. Passing through the towns of Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham and Wellfleet, this path also attracts equestrians, walkers, in-line skaters and runners.
With the recently completed Chatham arm, the bike path now truly encompasses all of the Lower Cape. Access the trail at the trailhead on Route 134 in Dennis, at Underpass Road on Rte. 137, or at Nickerson State Park in Brewster. Additional parking can be found on Route 124 at the Pleasant Lake General Store and off Great Western Road near Herring Run Road in Harwich. Grab your helmet, a bottle of water and start pedaling. You’ll see cranberry bogs, lakes and ponds and maybe even some wildlife.
Cape Cod Canal Bikeway
This bikeway follows the Cape Cod Canal as it winds its way from Cape Cod Bay to Buzzards Bay. Doubling as the canal access road, it runs approximately 7-8 miles between the Bourne and Sagamore bridges. A wide road with minimal grades, this is the ideal path for beginner to casual cyclists, especially families with younger children.
Following the length of the canal with great views of passing yachts and working barges, you’ll be joined by plenty of pedestrians, inline skaters, and joggers. Fortunately, dozens of park benches are scattered along the path at regular intervals, so you can take a break and enjoy the passing boat traffic.
Shining Sea Bike Path
Named for teacher and poet Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote about the “shining sea” in “America the Beautiful”, it’s the only bikeway on Cape Cod that runs along the seashore. Formerly a 3.3-mile paved route that ran along the coast from Falmouth to Woods Hole, an extension was added in 2009 to increase the paved bikeway to a length of 11.5 miles.
The path begins on County Road in North Falmouth and ends at the Steamship Authority’s ferry terminal in Woods Hole. It’s a great way to get to Woods Hole, where traffic in summer is heavy and parking is scarce. Along the way, you’ll ride through salt marsh, cranberry bogs, ponds and woodlands. A sandy beach in Falmouth makes a great stop along the route if you want to take a dip in the bay. Eventually you’ll end at the tiny working harbor of Woods Hole. Dozens of quaint shops and eateries populate this lovely village, so plan to spend some time exploring.
Nickerson State Park Network
Located off the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Brewster, Nickerson State Park is home to eight miles of dedicated bike trails. Offering easy access to picnic area and campsites, this hilly and scenic network provides an enjoyable ride through beautiful pine and fir tree forests around ponds, lakes and bogs.
This area is known for its great natural scenery, along with a collection of the most diverse tree species on Cape Cod. You can view pine, fir, spruce and oak. as well as various types of holly and berry bushes within the network of trails. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife, as guests report regular sightings of fox, deer, and coyote. Be aware that sections of the network are hilly and patches of thick pine needles collect on the pavement from the predominately pine tree canopy, making it slippery in parts.
Nauset Marsh Trail
Starting at the gateway to the National Seashore, the Nauset Marsh Trail runs 1.5 miles, ending at popular Coast Guard Beach. The route wanders first through a large grove of cedar, pine and oak. Be sure to take a detour at the second stop sign to the Doane Memorial, a monument to Deacon John Doane.
Once back on the main path, prepare to cross a wooden bridge spanning the marsh overlooking Salt Pond. A short distance further, the old Coast Guard Station overlooks the beautiful beach below, with waves lapping the shore as far as the eye can see in either direction.
This 5-mile hilly loop starts from the Province Lands Visitor Center in Provincetown. But with trail extensions to Herring Cove Beach, Race Point Beach, and Bennet Pond, you can add an additional 2 miles to your ride.
The paved network of trails cross 4000 wild acres of the Province Lands, winding through and over the dunes of Provincetown. From breathtaking marshland to magnificent exposed dunes to expansive shore views, these trails feature spectacular scenery. Be sure to bring a swimsuit to frolic in the ocean both Race Point and Herring Cove beaches.
Next time you visit us at the Captain Farris House, be sure to bring your bikes and this guide to Cape Cod biking paths. Of course, you can always rent equipment at some of the trailheads if you prefer to travel light. Nothing revives the spirit like an invigorating bike ride. And nothing restores the soul like a relaxing getaway to our beautifully appointed bed and breakfast on Cape Cod.