Bike Trails of Cape Cod: 7 Day Travel Itinerary
Visit the villages, lighthouses, and seafood shacks of Cape Cod by bike. The network of paved bike trails from Falmouth to Provincetown makes it easy to explore with pedal-power. The Cape's bike paths are well-marked and family-friendly. It's the perfect vacation destination to bike-it in the morning, and beach-it in the afternoon.
Cape Cod is 77 miles long. To really enjoy the area you will need your own vehicle. Traffic get snarled in the warm weather, especially on weekends. Since we do not recommend bike riding on the regular roadway, you will need a personal vehicle to transport your bikes to different trailheads.
It should be noted that Cape Cod's bike trails are mostly paved and relatively flat. All of the rides mentioned in this article could be completed in 1-3 hours by adults with a moderate level of fitness with shorts stops for photos and water breaks. Rides can easily be shortened or lengthened according to your ability.
This 7 day Working Joe Travel Itinerary will help you see a quieter side of Cape Cod. Away from the bustle of the commercial centers, the bike paths will take you past ponds, cranberry bogs, and sand dunes that call out to be enjoyed.
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TRAVEL GUIDE / TRAVEL TIPS
For most of the trails, you can begin or end at multiple points. Parking is generally plentiful and free. There is good signage to track distance. You will be sharing the trails with walkers and other non-motorized cyclists. In general, there will be more traffic near trailheads. After a mile or so, crowds thin significantly. Trails are more crowded on the weekend.
If you do not have your own bicycle(s) there are rental shops located within a few tenths of a miles of all of the trails. Bikes can be rented by the day (or week) eliminating the need for a bike rack. In Massachusetts, anyone under the age of 16 is required to wear a bike helmet.
WHERE TO STAY
As mentioned above, Cape Cod is a large area. Though we love the Falmouth and Provincetown regions, for this trip we recommend you choose lodgings in the mid- or lower Cape to minimize driving times. We like Chatham. It has a vibrant downtown area, pier, beach and many restaurants.
If you plan to spend a lot of time at the beach, book a hotel within walking distance of one. Parking is a pain. It can be expensive, and time consuming trying to find a spot. After a day of biking, it is nice to be able to grab your beach gear and trek to the water with a minimum of fuss.
WHEN TO GO
The average temperature on the Cape in July and August is 75'. In these months, traffic and tourism are at its peak. We love the region in June and September when the primroses are in bloom, but the crowds are lighter (68-69'). October is also nice with an average temperature of 60'.
DAY 1: Check-in
Upon arrival check-in, explore your surroundings, and take a walk on the beach.
Day 2: Bike the Shining Sea Bikeway (17 mile round trip 2 plus hours). Explore Falmouth and Woods Hole
Drive to Woods Hole and park in the free lot behind the Steamship Authority's parking lot (you will need to drive on the bike trail for a short distance until you reach the lot).
On the trial, ride toward Falmouth. After passing though a wooded section of the path, emerge at the stunning Surf Drive Beach. This beautiful seaside section of the trail has panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. The path will be likely thick with beachgoers, scooters, and walkers.
Travel on through the Great Sippewissett Marsh and Falmouth Harbor (Marker 13 at 7.4 miles). At the Bourne Farm (Marker 14 at 8.5 miles) at the Bourne Farm turn around and retrace your route. When you get back to the Surf Drive Beach, park your bike and enjoy the beach for a while.
After returning to the parking lot, secure your bikes and walk to Woods Hole. This interesting little village is home to a number of top scientific institutes; some have hours open to the public. Walk the waterfront, dine in one the village restaurants, and shop the craft shops. Before leaving the area, head to the town of Falmouth with its Village Green and whitewashed churches. Shop the collectibles, candy, and clothing stores of Main Street.
Day 3: Bike the Cape Cod Canal Rail Trail (14 mile round trip; 1.5 hours). Afternoon at Scusset Beach
Pack a picnic and beach chairs. Drive to the Scusset Beach State Reservation in Sagamore on the north side of the canal. Unload the bikes. Follow the canal to the Sagamore Bridge (2.5 miles), the Bourne Bridge (3.25 miles), and the Buzzards Bay Railroad Bridge (1.25 miles).
The path runs along the water and under busy bridges. You will ride alongside barges, past fishing piers, and picnic grounds. For a little while, be a part of this busy, vibrant channel. After resting at the railroad bridge, retrace your path to Scusset Beach. Spend the afternoon on the beach, jetty, and fishing pier.
Day 4: Bike the National Seashore (Approx. 7 miles, 2 Hours). Explore Provincetown Beaches and Shopping
Park in Provincetown's Herring Cove Beach Parking Lot. Bike toward to Loop Trail. Then, circle past the Visitor's Center and the Beech Forest. This is the week's shortest ride, but still plan for 2 hours. There are steep hills, blowing sand, and sharp curves. You will want to keep your speed down and stop often to enjoy the breathtaking dunes, sea grass, and ocean vistas.
Spend the afternoon hanging out at Herring Cove Beach. There are food stands, showers, and toilets. Later, freshen up at one of the park's bath houses and head to Provincetown's Commercial Street to explore the shops, restaurants, and galleries of this funky, LGBTQ friendly community.
Day 5: Biking Cape Cod Rail Trail (14 miles, 1.5 hours). Road Trip to Hyannis Harbor & Port
The Cape Cod Rail Trail has approximately 25 miles of paved rail trail to explore. The portion of trail outlined here begins in Dennis and ends in Orleans (with a reverse ride back).
The ride winds through neighborhoods in Harwich and Brewster, and past Nickerson State Park. You will pass a series of small lakes. There are several places to obtain food and drink right off the path. This is a very enjoyable ride that could easily be extended by biking further along the .trail
Later in the day, drive to Hyannis Port. Take a meandering route past the mansions and 'cottages.' History buffs should make a stop at the Kennedy Hyannis Museum and walk the 1.6 mile Legacy Trail (10 stops). Then, travel on to Hyannis Harbor. Pick a restaurant for dinner where you can view the yachts and fishermen returning to port.
Day 6: Bike Old Colony Rail Trail (12 mile round trip, 1 hour). Visit Hardings Beach, Chatham Pier, and Downtown
Park in Chatham's Crowell Road lot. Begin the day with a ride on the paved rail trail. When Old Colony meets up with Cape Cod Rail Trail in Harwich, turn around and head back. Note: This rail trial does include several on-street sections.
Spend the afternoon hanging out at Chatham's Harding Beach on Nantucket Sound (snack shack and rest rooms). Later, motor to the Chatham Pier and Fish Market where you can watch commercial fishermen unload their catch. End the day in downtown Chatham. Walk its pedestrian friendly streets and buy some stylish souvenirs.
Day 7: Beach walk. Check-out. Travel home.
Walk the beach of your choice. Check out and head home.
Safe Travels, Laura and Randy
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