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Cape Cod Mountain Biking

Most people don’t realize that Cape Cod offers many hundreds of miles of excellent off-pavement mountain bike trails. Hardly a town on the Cape doesn't have a local bike trail system worth exploring. These bike trails which are enjoyed by hikers, dog walkers, runners and in-season snowshoes and cross-country skis are also enjoyed from the saddle of a mountain bike.

There is a rumor that the Cape’s mountain bike trails lack hills. Sure we don’t have mountains, but you’ll not lack climbing and descending on our trails. What we don’t have are the endless series of rocky, rooty trails that are common in most of the rest of the Northeast. What you will find are smooth, windy singletracks that are fun to ride for all levels of riding ability.

Looking for trail conditions and locals to ride with? Check out the Cape Cod NEMBA Facebook page

West Barnstable Conservation Area
Download a Trail Map
Location: 1590 Race Lane, West Barnstable MA
About the Trail: The West Barnstable Conservation Area is one of Cape Cod's treasures and prime riding areas. The West Barnstable Conservation Area is a 1,200-acre parcel of conservation land in the village of West Barnstable. The main recreation focus is multi-use and revolves around mountain biking, hiking, trail running and cross-country skiing.  The West Barnstable Conservation Area is very atypical of Cape Cod vegetation; American beech, Red oak, Sassafras, White pine, and American holly make up most of the tree canopy. The understory consists of Sweetfern, Bayberry, Greenbriar, Spirea, and low bush blueberry, to name a few. There are approximately 21 miles of singletrack that wind throughout the trail. The majority of singletrack is short and steep with some very twisted sections. Though the trails are not very technical, they’re full of short steep climbs, which make for a great aerobic roller coaster ride.
Parking: The West Barnstable Conservation Area main parking lot - and the best place to meet up with other riders - is located at 1590 Race Lane on the South side of the conservation area. A second parking lot is located just off exit 5 on the Route 6 (the Mid Cape Highway). From the east, take a right off the exit then another right onto the Service Road. Parking is approximately 300 yards down on the left.

The Badlands

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Location: 42 German Hill Rd, Yarmouth
About the Trail: The Badlands are located in Yarmouth Port, just north of Route 6 off Exit 8. They consist of a vast network of trails on both private and public lands that go on for miles. The Badlands’ trails actually connect to trails leading all the way back to Maple Swamp at exit 4 (that’s about 30 miles). The riding at the Badlands ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous. Many of the singletracks are smooth and flowy, completely lacking in rocks or roots as they glide up, down and around some very gentile hills. On the other extreme is the Badland Trail. Although the whole area is referred to by locals as The Badlands, the Badland Trail itself is a deviously constructed singletrack that winds itself over and around every defilement, rock, crevice and drop that could be found at a long-abandoned sandpit. You’ll know when you’re on it because it will be unlike anything else you’ve ever ridden. Fortunately, the Badland Trail is an exception. Most of the area’s trails are quite suitable for all levels of riders though some are quite hilly. A quick look at the map will show you that the trail network is quite convoluted. More than one day of exploring will be required to find out where they all go.
Near the base of German Hill Road, about 1000 feet north of Route 6 where there’s a small parking area (42 German Hill Road if you are using GPS).

Beebe Woods/Peterson Farm
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Location: 56 Highfield Drive, Falmouth
About the Trail: Beebe Woods and Peterson Farm are two Falmouth conservation properties that abut each other. The trails are very pleasant to explore, especially from the seat of a mountain bike. The trails are fun, mostly non-technical and circle around quite a bit. It will take you at least a couple of hours to explore them all. There's quite a bit to see. Active farmland, including sheep pastures, remnants of old abandoned buildings, many glacial erratics, some very unusual plants and you'll probably meet a lot of people out on the trails. The two properties together comprise 488 acres. Located just west of Falmouth Center, it's just a short ride from downtown as well as being only a few hundred yards from the Shining Sea Bikeway.
Parking: Parking is at the start of the trail at 50 Highfield Drive, Falmouth.

Four Ponds Conservation Area
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Location: 140 Barlows Landing Road, Pocasset
About the Trail: Four Ponds is well marked. You’ll find it hard to get off the track if you follow the trail markers for any of the mapped trails. One of the most enjoyable trails is Four Pond’s Pine Trail, a smooth never straight singletrack snaking through the woods. It never goes long without going around a tree, a rock or up or down some small hill. It’s only a few miles long but you’ll be disappointed when it’s over. Four Ponds may never attract hard-core bikers. It’s not that kind of a place. But for a relaxed ride where you’ll get a chance to explore some wonderful trails immersed in nature, give Four Ponds a try. The ponds themselves are beautiful. Stop for a bit and you’ll observe turtles, frogs, swans, ducks and many other types of birds.  Cautions: You will encounter a lot of people and dogs especially near the parking area.
Parking: There is a dirt lot at 140 Barlows Landing Road. There's another good parking area at 58 Valley Bars Road in Bourne.  This one is always less crowded and gives you quicker access to the Bourne Town Forest trails.

Download a Trail Map
20 Summer Street, Yarmouth
About the Trail:  Greenough, comprising about 20 miles of fun riding, is one of the three riding areas that make up the Willow Street complex of trails. The name derives from Camp Greenough, a Boy Scout camp where many of the trails are located. But Greenough’s trails extend well beyond that, reaching the ocean at Grays Beach to the north, the Badlands (Exit 8) to the west and the extensive Willow Street trails to the south of the highway. The trails in the Scout camp are really fun, fast-flowing singletracks, moderately hilly with a few technical climbs and descents. The perimeter trails, (see map) are open all year to the general public for biking and hiking, but the trails in the center of the camp should be avoided when the Scouts are camping (generally during summer months). To the north of the railroad tracks there’s a route to the aforementioned Grays Beach. This is a fun ride, which goes right through the parking lot for the Yarmouthport Village Store, where you can stop for refreshments. There are two sections of trail on the map that are closed to bikes, Miller Pond and Camp Wingate. These trails are open to foot traffic and are included on the map.
Most people choose to park just south of Exit 7 beside the railroad tracks. This location gives you easy access to all three of the Willow Street complex’s network of trails.

Higgins Crowell Road
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307 Higgins Crowell Road, Yarmouth
About the Trail: Higgins Crowell is one of the three major riding areas that make up the Willow Street complex of trails. Of the three, Higgins Crowell is the mellowest. Lots of flat singletracks flowing through the woods interspersed with an occasional jeep road. Some of the trails circumnavigate cranberry bogs while others delve so deeply into the woods that all traffic noise disappears and all you’ll hear are birdcalls or the occasional passing airplane. There are few sandy areas, few technical obstacles and almost no hills. This makes Higgins Crowell the perfect place for a relaxing ride, a ride with newer riders or a ride with kids on small wheel bikes. But don’t get the wrong impression. These trails are not boring. They’re just flat. The singletracks running through the woods are some of the most enjoyable on the Cape.
Parking: From the end of the highway ramp head south on Willow Street for about ¾ of a mile. Turn left on Higgins Crowell Road and follow it for three miles until just past the Yarmouth Police Station where you’ll see a small conservation area parking lot at 307 Higgins Crowell Road.

Maple Swamp Conservation Area
Download a Trail Map
Service Road between old exits 3 and 4, Sandwich
About the Trail: The Maple Swamp conservation lands consist of 500 acres of upland property that are composed of 25 different parcels. Maple Swamp’s vast 500-acre property also has some of the most diverse topography on Cape Cod. Reaching from 40 feet above sea level to 250 feet above sea level, Maple Swamp has spectacular views north across Cape Cod Bay to Provincetown and south to Vineyard Sound. Vegetation on the property includes oaks, pines, holly, hickory, and maple trees.
* Mountain bikers must remain on the designated mountain bike trails and mountain biking is prohibited on Jacob's Ladder Trail, Ridgeway Trail and West South Hill Trail.
Parking: The main parking lot for the Maple Swamp Conservation Area is located at about 160-174 Service Road, Sandwich

Mashpee Woodlands
Download a Trail Map
Location: 40 Quinaquisset Ave., Mashpee
About the Trail:  Mashpee Woodlands is a little know gem. Most of the Woodlands trails are singletracks. The most scenic wind through the woods on ground that's high above the Mashpee River. The views are spectacular. The trails twist through the trees climbing and descending short hills. They are very pleasant to ride, the only downside being that there are too few of them. In all, there are about 4 miles of trails here. The solution - ride them in both directions. These scenic trails look entirely different in the opposite direction. The Map link above is borrowed from the Trustees of Reservations. This TTOR property in Mashpee is currently closed to bikes. However, all of the Town of Mashpee land welcomes mountain bikers. Indeed, local bikers do most of the trail clearing and trash pickup. Cape Cod NEMBA is working on a map of it's own that will clear up this confusion.
Parking: The parking area is isolated. It's deep in the woods at the end of a short dirt road. You'll see a sign on Quinaquisset Ave. A little further down Quinaquisset there's a smaller roadside parking area.

Nickerson State Park
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3488 Main St, Brewster MA
About the Trail: Located in the middle of Cape Cod just about where the peninsula begins to dog-leg north, Nickerson’s 1,900 acres host about 400 campsites, and eight ponds. There is an 8-mile paved bicycle path in Nickerson that is great for kids and gives one a brief introduction to the park. The bike path also connects to the 22-mile long Cape Cod Rail Trail. But the Singletracks are the trail's big draw. They abound in and around Nickerson. Highlighting the trails are the many scenic views afforded of the park's lakes. The most notable feature of them, to someone who normally rides off the Cape anyway, is the almost total lack of stones and rocks. The trails here define the word "buffed."
Parking: There is a parking lot west of the entrance to the park, off Route 6A in Brewster. There is also a parking lot at the end of Flax Pond Road.  Drive in the main road, take the first left, follow to the end.

Old Jail Lane
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Location: 348 Old Jail Lane, Barnstable
About the Trail:  The Old Jail Lane trails are primarily double-track over rolling hills.  There are a few fast downhills and one challenging climb on Ebenezer Smith Hill (a loop trail just to the north of the blue trail – try riding counter-clockwise to enjoy “Captain’s Logs”). Riding these trails is a lot of fun. They seem remote as you wind your way through deep woods, the only sound being some traffic noise from nearby Route 6.
Parking: In addition to the lot at Old Jail Lane, rides can be extended by starting further east, such as parking at the Barnstable County Complex (which has bathrooms) at 3249 Main St. in Barnstable and entering the woods adjacent to the Trayser Museum off of Route 6A. Or they can be extended further west from parking lot 7 at the Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable.

Otis Crane WMA
Download a Trail Map
Location: 194 Nathan Ellis Hwy, Falmouth MA
About the Trail: The riding in the Bourne/Falmouth area is usually referred to as riding at Otis. The riding area abuts the Otis Air Force Base, which is now officially closed to anyone except official personnel. Most people don't realize that they are actually riding on Town of Falmouth Conservation Land and The Frances Crane Wildlife Management Area, which is not part of the base. Unfortunately, there is really no physical delineation between these areas. Most people ride Otis without ever crossing into base land or seeing military police. But, if you happen to be crossing a paved road and encounter a base official, they will ask you to leave, or perhaps escort you out. The riding at "Otis" mostly consists of fast singletrack that runs up, down and around a long series of drumlins that head north paralleling route 28 heading north. There are some very technical trails and some very long hills. Expect to spend a lot of time exploring.
Parking: Parking is along Route 151 near the dirt mound on your left after you exit from MacArthur Blvd. (Rt. 28), or 100 yards after that on your right. There is also parking about a mile away at the junction of Route 151 and Cloverfield Lane. From there, bike to the end of the big field, cross the railroad tracks and enter the trails area.

Willow Street / Exit 7
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Willow Street, Yarmouth MA
About the Trail: One of the best riding locations on the Cape and also one of the least known. It’s at exit 7 on the Route 6 and is commonly referred to as Willow Street. Willow Street actually comprises two separate riding areas. Both are located near the same exit and can be linked together to form about 35 miles of riding. On the first, explore over 20 miles of enjoyable sometimes hilly singletracks located in the Hyannis Ponds Wildlife Management Area. For your second adventure, you’ll be in Yarmouth, where you can discover over fifteen miles of trails.
Parking: For the Barnstable trails, take exit 7 off Route 6 (the Mid Cape Highway), drive to the South side of the highway bridge and park in the dirt lot beside the train tracks. You’ll see a trail with a Cape Cod Pathways marker leading into the woods. For the Yarmouth Trails, from the end of the Route 6, Exit 7 highway ramp, head south on Willow Street for about ¾ of a mile. Turn left on Higgins Crowell Road and follow it for three miles until you see a small conservation area parking lot.  

Fat Tire Bike Info for Sandy Neck Beach, Barnstable:  As Fat Tire Bikes continue to grow in popularity, the challenge is going to be to keep riders educated during the summer (shorebird nesting) seasons.  It is during this time (April through September) that areas of the beach will be closed to many types of recreational activities (including biking) as required by state and federal endangered species protection laws.  Within these closed sections there can potentially be hundreds of tern and plover nests/chicks that are camouflaged almost completely with sand. Fat tire bikes must stay on open marked trails.

All of the content on this page has been provided by Bill Boles of the New England Mountain Bike Association (NEMBA).