Cape Cod Canal Bike Trails

Sagamore Bridge Cape Cod Canal

Some of the most pleasant bicycling on the Cape is found right along the Cape Cod Canal, making the Canal one of the most popular bike trails. The bike paths follow the service roads maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.

These roads offer some of the finest sightseeing that the Cape has to offer. There is always something to watch going through the busy Canal, which is wider than the Panama Canal. Freighters, barges, cruise ships and numerous yachts pass through the Canal. There are picnic grounds, museums, restrooms right along the trail. The Canal is a destination itself!

Beneath Sagamore Bridge
Bicycling Cape Cod Canal

These interesting paired eight-mile bicycle routes, one on each side of the Canal, provide continuous cool breezes and fantastic scenery. These paths follow the full length of the Canal along both sides of the Canal. They are popular for bicycling, walking, running and rollerblading. The biking is entirely on the level, parking is excellent, and sightseers can view the scenic Bourne and Sagamore bridges from unique perspectives unavailable to automobile drivers. At the far western end of the Canal, you can see the Canal Railroad Bridge. When a train needs to pass onto or off of the Cape, boating traffic is stopped and the entire center span of the bridge is lowered, using counterweights and electric motors found in the side towers - it is a sight to behold!

Resting At Cape Cod Canal Sagamore Bridge View

Other attractions along the Cape Cod Canal bike paths are the Canal Marina, the Canal Electric Plant, the US Coast Guard Station, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Scusset Beach, Scusset Fish Pier, and Bourne Scenic Park. At the eastern end of the Canal in Sandwich, there is the excellent free Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center with many displays about how the Canal was built and how it is run and maintained. You can stop anywhere along the bike paths to rest, picnic, try some fishing, or soak up the sun.

Because the Cape Cod Canal bike paths are entirely on the level, they are a great bicycling spot for families that want an easy route with lots to see and do. Locals come here year round, visitors stop here on their way to the Cape, and many make bicycling on the Canal a part of their trip. If you are looking for a walking path with lots to see and do, this is the place for that, too!

Cape Cod Canal Trail Map

Bicycling on Cape Cod

Rail Trail Nickerson Park

Welcome to our guide to bicycling on Cape Cod! Come bicycle on the Cape's beautiful paths and trails, and enjoy the scenery, the sun, the beaches, and the surf along the way! Visit the popular Cape Cod National Seashore, Nickerson Park, Rail Trail and Shining Sea Trails or the Chatham Bike Route, the Canal Bike paths and more.

Start at the Cape Cod Rail Trail !

Biking on the Rail Trail is a great way for the whole family to experience bicycling on the Cape. In 2018, the trail will extend from South Yarmouth to South Wellfleet, running much of the length of the Cape. Gorgeous lake and cranberry bog views, woodlands, the State Park, and the National Park are right along the trails. The Canal paths provide easy, level bicycling with plenty to see and do along the way as well.

Rail Trail Dennis Park Road Nickerson Park

Bicycling on Cape Cod has been enormously popular in recent years. The Cape has always been a wonderful bicycling spot, but in 1978, when the Department of Environmental Management purchased part of the right-of-way along the old Pennsylvania Central Railroad grade and set up the Cape Cod Rail Trail, bicycling really took off.

Biking Sign

Needless to say, the planners of the Trail, who studied bikeways from as far away as California, are delighted to find that bicycling has become the hottest thing to do here spring, summer, and fall. It has gotten to the point that if you visit Cape Cod and don't go bicycling, well .... just don't say it too loudly when you get back. Nearly every day you will find many visitors on the Cape's roadways, touring from place to place and from one breathtaking sight to the next.

From There, Many More Trails ...

Added to trails at the Cape Cod National Seashore in Eastham, Truro, and Provincetown, and to the trails at Nickerson State Park in Brewster and the Shining Sea Trail in Falmouth, the Rail Trail provides the backbone to link Cape Cod's bicycle paths into an unequalled opportunity for sightseers and exercise-seekers alike.

Bicycle "tourists" are finding, too, that the motor tourists are missing more than just a few things, from unique perspectives of the magnificent Bourne and Sagamore bridges, to closeups of life in the dunes, to access to quieter beaches and freshwater swimming, "whispering white pines" in Brewster, and so much more. Sometimes you've just got to get out there in the middle of things, and the bicycle routes on Cape Cod let you do that splendidly.

Chatham Beach View Cape Cod Canal Bikepath

Pilgrim Springs, for example, widely reputed to be the spot where the Pilgrims first found fresh water in America, is easily accessed along the Head of the Meadow bike trail in Truro. All of Chatham's famous sights, from its Fish Pier to its eroding shore, to its Coast Guard Station, are found along its superb bike route. And the trails in Provincetown couldn't bring you closer to the treasures of the sand dunes and beaches at the Cape's tip.

Be sure to check out our Cape Cod Bike Book - for 30 years it has provided up to date information about bicycling on Cape Cod. We have all the exact locations where to park and where the trails go, and we have detailed descriptions of what you can see along each trail - nature, history, environment, popular places right near the trails, etc.

Bike Trail Maps

Cape Cod National Seashore

Cape Cod National Seashore Entrance Salt Pond Visitor Center

There are miles of bicycle paths found within the Cape Cod National Seashore. Besides the Rail Trail that passes through the Park, other bicycle paths are found in Provincetown, Truro, and Eastham. While many local residents disputed the wisdom of forming the National Park in the 1960's, few will disagree now about the blessing that it has been, especially in preventing over-development and in teaching an appreciation for Cape Cod's natural resources.

The bicycle trails that the seashore maintains are among the best on the Cape, with fantastic ocean breezes and scenery that will definitely become a part of your memories! Be sure to stop to see what the National Park offers in terms of tours, talks, and displays at the recently-renovated Salt Pond Visitor Center and at the Provincelands Visitor Center!

Nauset Lighthouse

Bicyclists on Cape Cod could spend a full vacation at the Cape Cod National Seashore alone. There are so many things to do there, especially for children! There are great tours and guided walks that they provide, free of charge. The Nauset Trail (Salt Pond Trail) takes you over gently rolling hills once occupied by the Nauset Native Americans as well as by early settlers on Cape Cod. Beginning at the Salt Pond Visitor Center where there is ample free parking, the trail descends past Doane Rock Picnic Area and the Doane Homestead to the Coast Guard Beach Area.

Nauset Marsh Coast Guard Beach

The Outermost of Lands - Coast Guard Beach

From the trail, there are many views to Coast Guard Beach and to the old Coast Guard Station, views that only bicyclists and walkers can enjoy. The path crosses the great Nauset Marshes on a wooden bridge, and then ends on the bluff overlooking Coast Guard Beach. Here there is an unforgettable view to the east over the Atlantic. Bike racks are provided and the beach itself is a certain invitation.

Old Coast Guard Station Eastham It was at this beach that Henry Beston lived for a year in a small shack, writing the famous book "The Outermost House", and it was here that during the blizzard of 1978 several homes, a bath house and the large parking area were destroyed, never to be replaced. The surf is high here, and it is still relentlessly cutting away at the coast. The trail is a must for all bicyclists on the Cape and is only moderate in difficulty, a fabulous place for a day's picnic.

The Provincelands Trails are a certain favorite for Cape bicyclists, although most agree that they are difficult bicycling, as they follow the hilly terrain over all its ups and downs and have sharp curves in spots. The trails total about seven miles in length, passing over the undulating dunes of Provincetown and over successions of land spits, each one formed north of its predecessor to form the entire Provincetown area.

From protected, shallow ponds to exposed dunes, from stunning views to the mainland, to access to fine sand beaches at Herring Cove and Race Point, these trails offer much. Bicyclists should be certain to stop at the Provincelands Visitor Center, atop which is an observation platform with panoramic views of all the surrounding area, Cape Cod Bay, and the mainland.

The Head of the Meadow Trail is a very level trail that takes you along the edge of the Salt Meadow to the Head of the Meadow Beach, both in Truro. This pleasant four mile round trip runs between two interesting geological areas, the high hills to the south that mark the end of the glacial deposits that formed Cape Cod thousands of years ago, and the sand deposits (dunes area to the north) that have since created the entire Provincetown area. The Salt Meadow itself marks the location of the north shorelines of Cape Cod at some point thousands of years ago. Picnic tables, easy bicycling, and a wonderful beach (heavy surf, though!) make this a trail not to miss.

National Seashore Trail Map

Cape Cod Rail Trail

Rail Trail Sign

Most would agree that the most popular of the bicycling trails on Cape Cod is the Cape Rail Trail.

While a few portions of the Rail Trail are not especially splendid, it being, after all, a railroad grade which frequently served the business areas of the towns, most sections are quite beautiful, and some are simply spectacular. Highlights of the Cape Cod Rail Trail include the famous cranberry bogs in Harwich, particulary beautiful in the fall, the sunny views at Long Pond and Seymour Pond near the historic Pleasant Lake Store, also in Harwich, and the adjoining Salt Pond Bike Trail and Visitor Center in Eastham. In Brewster, the trail goes right to Nickerson State Park with its own bike trails, its campgrounds, picnic areas, ponds for swimming, and thousands of acres of woodlands. Rock Harbor in Orleans, a busy port for traffic to Boston in the 1800's, offers an historical perspective as well as stunning views of Cape Cod Bay. It is just a short distance north of the trail in Orleans center. And of course, Orleans center itself is a great place to rest, shop, and dine. And not to be missed are the sights along the trail in Eastham and Wellfleet. Several outstanding beaches are accessible by short side routes from the Rail Trail in this area.

South Dennis

Initially constructed in 1983, the Cape Cod Rail Trail for more than 20 years extended from Route 134 in South Dennis to Lecount Hollow Road in South Wellfleet, running much of the length of Cape Cod in the mid-Cape and lower-Cape. During 2006-2007, reconstruction of the Rail Trail from Route 134 in Dennis to Welfleet vastly upgraded the already-famous trail. Recent construction in 2017 opened the trail further west to Main Street in South Dennis. As a result, the trail is now open from near Bass River to Wellfleet, with new primary parking at 495 Main Street in South Dennis and additional parking on Route 134 in South Dennis. The pedestrian bridge over Route 134 allows bicyclists to safely cross the busy highway, so parking at 495 Main Street allows you to easily bike the entire trail. See the map below for exact directions to parking on Main Street in South Dennis.

Bass River

Additional construction work to be completed in 2018 will extend the trail even further west, joining with the current Yarmouth Bike Trail. When the work is completed, the trail will run from its new start in South Yarmouth all the way to South Wellfleet. The key work involved a bridge over Bass River, which now replaces the old "railroad bridge" once there. With the new bridge, the primary Rail Trail parking will be at Old Town House Road and at Station Avenue (Route 6 Exit 8 in Yarmouth), and the Yarmouth Trail will then be connected to the Rail Trail.

Cape Cod Rail Trail Brewster Cape Cod Rail Trail Dennis

Gorgeous lake and cranberry bog views, woodlands, Nickerson State Park, and the National Park are right along the trail. From Yarmouth to Wellfleet, there are things to see and do along the Rail Trail, from great views to quiet beaches to lots of food! In any of the towns that the trail passes through, you can venture Just a short distance off the trail itself to find many places to eat, to shop, to swim, or just to enjoy the scenery of the Cape. The Cape Cod Rail Trail has become a "must-do" for bicyclists on the Cape.

Biking in Harwich
Bike Trail Brewster

Biking on the Rail Trail is generally quite easy, although be wary of the high volumes of bicycling traffic and of automobiles at the many cross roads. Because of this, stay with your children and be sure to walk, not ride, across main roads. Try not to be tempted to set distance records. Instead, use our guide and try to really stop to see some of the things along the Trail. Relax and enjoy the laid-back nature of Cape Cod!

South Dennis Picnic Area

Cape Cod Rail Trail Map

Yarmouth Bike Trail

The Yarmouth Bike Path begins in South Yarmouth on Old Townhouse Road, just off Route 6 at Exit 8. There are large parking areas at either the new Station Avenue pedestrian overpass bridge or at Homer Park (Old Townhouse Road). Note: The Yarmouth Trail east of Homer Park is under construction in 2017, to be completed later in the summer.

Yarmouth Pedestrian Bridge

From either parking area, you have a choice of directions. Heading west on the trail just behind the utilities building at Peter Homer Park will take you along Old Townhouse Road to a crossing at West Yarmouth Road, and then into the Cranberry Hills golf area. Here, the trail runs along the border of the golf course, with beautiful views along the way.

Yarmouth Bike Path

The trail then travels through very level oak and pitch pine woods and ends at Higgins Crowell Road in West Yarmouth. It is about 2 miles from the park on Old Townhouse Road to Higgins Crowell Road. Plans are in the works to someday extend this trail further west, as part of the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Possible routes are still being discussed, but may bring the route to Willow Street and then through conservation land in the area.

Bike Path Cranberry Hills

Heading east from Old Townhouse, the trail runs behind the Peter Homer Park playing fields and then up along the railroad grade toward Station Avenue. This is a busy industrial area, with several stores and restaurants just near Station Avenue. The pedestrian bridge brings you over Station Avenue to the new Station Avenue Rail Trail parking lot. The level trail continues through pitch pine woods all the way to Great Western Road, a distance of just over a mile. After 2019, the trail will continue further from there and then across Bass River to connect to the Dennis portion of the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

Flax Pond Recreation Area

Turning right on Dupont Avenue, about halfway between Station Avenue and Great Western Road will bring you to Flax Pond Recreation Center.

This is a beautiful spot. Here there is fresh-water swimming, a large picnic area, a nice playground and restrooms.

Flax Pond Sign

Yarmouth Bike Trail Map

Falmouth Shining Sea Trail

Shining Sea Bike Trail

Starting just outside Falmouth Center, the Falmouth Shining Sea Trail provides a nice, level ride on an off-road bike path between North Falmouth and Woods Hole. This is a fantastic trail with gorgeous views of Vineyard Sound as well as Buzzards Bay. The trail now runs from Woods Hole 10.7 miles to County Road in North Falmouth, and will hopefully someday extend all the way to the Cape Cod Canal. Falmouth Center, just a short distance from the trail, also provides many opportunities for visitors inccluding lots of restaurants and many different shops.

Following the old Penn Central Railroad grade, the Shining Sea Trail runs through some beautiful areas and for some distance follows right along the water's edge, with views of Martha's Vineyard on the horizon. In spots, you can literally stop for a swim or picnic right on the beach. This is the only trail on the Cape that runs right along the beach in this way. The north section of the trail passes the beautiful Sippewisset Marshes and gorgeous views of Buzzards Bay.

Falmouth Beach

Be sure to see Woods Hole! At the south end, the trail ends at the Woods Hole Steamship Authority parking lot, where it is only a short walk to the sights of famous and quaint Woods Hole. Here you can see the Oceanographic Intitution and its sailing vessels when in port, the National Marine Fisheries and their aquaria which are great fun for the kids, and the famous Nobska light. While tiny, Woods Hole itself is a fantastic destination and opportunity with plenty to see and do. There are many restaurants and stores right in Woods Hole, as well.

Woods Hole Center

From Woods Hole, you can also get the ferries to Martha's Vineyard or to Nantucket. Be especially cautious in Woods Hole, as roads are very narrow and traffic is heavy. Parking is difficult in Woods Hole during the summer. North from Falmouth Center, the trail passes incredible scenery at Little and Great Sippewisset Marshes and West Falmouth Harbor and provides close access to several beaches in West Falmouth, including Chapoquoit Beach.

Woods Hole Pier

Shining Sea Trail Map

Nickerson State Park Trails

The bike trail system at Nickerson State Park in Brewster is extensive. You could easily spend an entire day or more just bicycling on the bicycle paths found within Nickerson State Park. In all there are almost ten miles of trails at Nickerson. These bike trails tie in directly to the Cape Cod Rail Trail. At the Park, there is camping, swiming, picnicing, and some beautiful wooded areas that only hikers and bikers are able to enjoy.

Nickerson State Park Sign

The Park is named for Roland Nickerson, born in Brewster and enriched by the railroads in the West. Upon returning to Brewster, Nickerson built the sumptuous buildings now owned by Ocean Edge, as his "summer place", and kept the land across the road as his "park". In the 1930's his widow donated the land to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, creating a bit of "wildness forever" on Cape Cod.

While Nickerson State Park is a busy spot in the summer, there are many quiet places to be treasured along the bike paths by those who seek them - beautiful spruce stands, stately white pines (on the Ober Trail), an old cedar swamp, and peaceful and relaxing ponds. Each trail is a little different, with some staying close to the auto roads, and others heading deep into the pine woods, along ponds or into cedar swamps.

The park offers restroom facilities, picnic grounds, fresh-water swimming, and camping (reservations at Beccause the area has been protected for such a long time, and because there is such a large expanse of woodland and numerous ponds here, the Nickerson trails can provide some glimpses of real Cape Cod nature that many tourists don't get to see.

Cliff Pond Brewster

The area of the park was formed thousands of years ago by the actions of the glacier that had stalled here. Large deposits of material built up in a coveyer-belt-like motion, resulting in many small hills. Large chunks of ice left in the debris formed steep-sided ponds, kettle ponds, that make up most of the ponds in this area. Bicycling in the Park is difficult in some spots, and it is all at least moderate in difficulty as there are several steep hills and many smaller ones.

Beginners, though, can choose shorter, easier routes and still see the quiet beauty of Cape Cod's woodlands.

Nickerson State Park Trail Map

Old Colony Rail Trail

Old Colony Trail Harwich

The Old Colony Rail Trail runs about 7 miles along the Old Colony railroad grade from Harwich to Chatham. This line had originally been built by the Chatham Railroad Company, and was used by the Old Colony Railroad in the late 1800's until it was sold. Eventually the line was abandoned and converted to a bike path, providing a way to reach Chatham from the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

Old Colony Trail

The Old Colony path begins just west of Harwich center at a bike path rotary where the Cape Cod Rail Trail turns north and the Old Colony Trail continues east. At Brooks Park in Harwich, it is only a block to Harwich Center, a quiet Cape village with a historic museum, library, town hall, church, restaurant, and convenience store. At Brooks Park itself, there is convenient and easy parking for the rail trail, as well as tennis courts, playing fields, and a nice, modern playground that children will enjoy. Just past the park, two rotaries slow the bicyclists just before crossing Route 39.

Brooks Park Harwich

From Harwich, the trail heads east through pitch pine woods and residential areas to Chatham. In Chatham, portions of the trail travel along roadways, as the original railbed had been built upon already and could no longer be used to build a bicycle trail. Part of the trail also runs along the boundary of the Chatham airport, which can make for some great views of small aircraft landing and taking off. The trail ends at Crowell Road in Chatham. Taking Crowell Road from there to the right, bicyclists can easily access the Chatham Bike Route that runs along the roadways of Chatham to the Chatham Light, the shops on Main Street in Chatham, Oyster Pond, and views our to the open Atlantic over the Chatham Bars.

Sign on Old Colony Trail

Old Colony Trail Map

Chatham Bike Route

One of the most pleasant routes on the Cape is found at the elbow of the Cape, in Chatham. Though this route is not an off road path, and it runs along main roads, it is a fine ride, totalling about eight miles in length.

Chatham Beach Near Lighthouse

There is a wealth of scenery to take in while visiting Chatham, and lots of shops to see on Main Street in Chatham for those so inclined as well. There are some breathtaking views from the Chatham Light area, overlooking the breakers and the sandbars there; bathing is available at several beaches, and there are many restaurants and stores right in the center of town.

In a small area, Chatham offers a number of things to see, including Chatham's famous lighthouse, Coast Guard Station, and weather facility. You can also stop at the Chatham fish pier where commercial fishing can be seen closeup, and view the breathtaking sights along the shore of the treacherous Chatham bars. The fish pier is a great place to see seals, as they tend to congregate there, attracted by scraps of fish from the fishing boats.

Chatham Lighthouse

The bars have become famous because of the erosion that has happened there in recent years, threatening houses and toppling them into the sea and changing accesses to harbors; the storm tides are always changing this area.

Chatham Near Monomoy Chatham Fishing Boats

There are many beautiful sights right along the path of Chatham's well-planned route. including numerous ocean views. If you tire of biking, it is only a few hundred yards from parts of the trial to Chatham's renowned Main Street shops and restaurants. Main Street in Chatham is a destination itself, bustling in the summer and very quiet in the off season. There are several parking areas along the route. While most of the bicycling is level, be particularly cautious along this route, as sightseers in automobiles or on bicycles may be distracted by the scenery themselves and may not be watching for you.

An extension of the Rail Trail, now called the Old Colony Rail Trail, begun in 2004 and completed in 2006, brings bicyclists from Harwich to Chatham. It runs from Harwich to Chatham center where you can directly connect to the Chatham route.

Chatham Bike Route Map

Cape Cod Bike Book

Cape Cod Bike Book

The Cape Cod Bike Book includes bicycling information from the Cape Cod Canal to Provincetown, including the Canal bike paths, Falmouth - Woods Hole Shining Sea bike path, several bicycle routes in Barnstable and Hyannis, several routes in Dennis, the entire Cape Cod Rail Trail, all the Nickerson State Park trails, as well as routes in Orleans, Eastham, Truro, Wellfleet and in Provincetown, as well as all the National Park trails.

The book includes descriptions of all major bike routes on the Cape, with detailed directions and information on where to park as well as interesting places to watch for along the bicycle trails. There are trails or paths in each town of the Cape.

The Cape Cod Bike Book is authored by a local Cape Cod resident. Published and revised annually, and available for just $7.99, it gives a real insider's view to the Cape, information about facilities, points of interest, notes on history, ecology, where to stop, what to see a just a short way off the main path, etc. All the main bicycle trails are included, as well as some custom routes that will get you off-the-beaten path and seeing Cape scenery that others may miss.

Click Here To See the Bike Book on Amazon

Visitor's Guides to Cape Cod

Visitor's Guide to Cape Cod

Free and Inexpensive Things To See and Do In

The Mid Cape Area
The Lower Cape Area
The Outer Cape Area
The Upper Cape Area

There are so many hidden gems on Cape Cod, not exactly secret places, but places a little off-the-beaten path, that many visitors miss out on some of the best things to see and do on the Cape. And so many of them are free or very inexpensive!

And that is exactly why these books are written. They are written from an "insider's" view, by a local resident who knows all the ins and outs of Cape Cod, all the back roads, and all the things to see, with the intent of sharing some of these wonderful locations for more to enjoy. They are written with everyone in mind, from the children to the adults in the family – the author has a family, too, and knows just what kinds of things both kids and adults can enjoy!

Each book focuses on one area of the Cape and provides detailed information and explanations about each location as well as exact driving directions and parking information. There are many, many things to see and lots of "I didn't know that's" in each book.

Click Here To See The Visitor's Guides on Amazon