Hopping on a bike is one of the best ways to enjoy the natural beauty of Cape Cod, especially in spring! You can meander at a pace that allows time to really take in the views, yet still cover enough of a distance that you can pack a lot of activities into one day. While the Cape Cod Rail Trail is one of the Cape's most renowned bikeways - stretching 25 spectacularly scenic miles from Yarmouth to Wellfleet - here are three other local bike trails that are worth the visit.
Keep in mind it’s not just the destination that matters. Side trips to explore area attractions can make your ride that much more enjoyable!
Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth
The Shining Sea Bikeway extends 10.7 miles from County Road in North Falmouth to the Steamship Authority in Woods Hole. The path’s name honors Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates, who penned the iconic "America the Beautiful." The song could certainly describe the bikeway itself, which offers cyclists stunning views of salt marshes, ponds, a working cranberry bog and a bird sanctuary, as well as barrier beaches and Vineyard Sound.
If you start in North Falmouth at the main parking lot, Falmouth Village is about seven miles away, making it the perfect stopping point for a bite to eat. Order a lobster roll at the Flying Bridge Restaurant overlooking Falmouth’s yacht-filled harbor. Another classic eatery is the Quarterdeck Restaurant on Falmouth's picture-perfect Main Street. Its use of salvaged wood from local boatyards creates the feeling of being “below decks,” and the handcrafted stained-glass window from a church in Maine creates a beautiful glow. Just nearby is The Black Dog General Store on Main Street, the perfect place to grab a souvenir.
The remaining three miles of the bikeway take you along the only stretch of bike path on the Cape that hugs the ocean coastline. The trail ends in Woods Hole, home of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Spend a little time in the Woods Hole Science Aquarium, learning about 140 species of marine animals found in New England waters. Kids will love their touch tanks filled with lobsters, horseshoe crabs, starfish and hermit crabs. If you’re craving a quick snack, visit the Quahog Republic Leeside Pub across from the ferry terminal, or make a stop for a homemade pastry at the Pie in the Sky Bakery and Cafe.
Old Colony Rail Trail between Harwich and Chatham
The Old Colony Rail Trail, formerly used as tracks for the Old Colony Railroad in the 1800s, connects to the Cape Cod Rail Trail and provides a direct route from the center of Harwich to downtown Chatham along a 7.5 mile bikeway. It’s a peaceful ride through a wooded alley that offers stopping points for exploration at ponds, the Chatham playground and the Chatham Railroad Museum.
Before starting your day, fuel up with breakfast at The Corner Store in Chatham, where the hearty and fresh breakfast burritos are a crowd pleaser, If it's later in the day, grab lunch at The Chatham Squire or Mom & Pops Burgers, both on Chatham's quaint Main Street. Main Street in Chatham has an old-fashioned village center feel, with large windows full of colorful merchandise. Spend some time browsing the shelves at the whimsical Ducks in the Window shop, or at Yellow Umbrella Books, a book lover’s dream store with an extensive selection of local literature (and one of the nearly two dozen stops along the Cape & Islands Bookstore Trail).
The Province Lands Bike Trail in Provincetown
The Province Lands Bike Trail in the Cape Cod National Seashore is a more challenging route than most, with many hills and occasional sand-swept trails. The 5.45 mile loop trail is easily accessed from the Province Lands Visitor Center, which is definitely worth a visit before you start pedaling. It offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of the dunes and ocean from indoor and outdoor observation decks, informational films, a well-stocked gift shop and staff members to help plan activities.
The trail winds through sand dunes with three spurs that offer the chance to fully explore. The half-mile Race Point Beach spur takes you to one of Cape Cod’s most popular beaches. Park your bike and lie in the sand or walk the shores looking for beach glass. Other spurs include a quarter-mile jog to the shores of Bennett Pond and a one-mile trek to Herring Cove Beach, a perfect sunset spot.
After you’ve finished exploring the wilds of the dunes, it’s time to head down to Commercial Street for a different kind of wild. All that biking is sure to leave you famished and there are plenty of restaurants to sate your appetite. Fanizzi’s Restaurant by the Sea is waterfront dining at its premium. You can sip a cocktail in the bar or have a meal in the restaurant while gazing out the wall-to-wall windows overlooking Cape Cod Bay.
Provincetown is a shopper’s mecca with stores lined up in a delightful jumble of the funky, the unique and the just plain fun and this is certainly true at Marine Specialties, otherwise known as “the Army-Navy store,” which has been a town staple since 1961. It’s such a feast for the eyes that it’s hard to know where to look first. Merchandise including salvage, surplus, close-outs, mistakes and vintage treasures is crammed in bins, boxes and hanging from the ceiling
For a different kind of fun, the Dolphin Fleet Whale Watch offers the opportunity to view the ocean’s most awesome creatures in the Stellwagen Bank National Sanctuary off the shores of Provincetown. There is a naturalist on every cruise to educate visitors about marine life, shorebirds, and of course whales. Another fun way to explore is on a guided excursion through Provincetown's majestic dunes.
Find more information about biking on Cape Cod!