If you are looking for a bike trail on Cape Cod that will provide you with the best overview of the area, be sure to ride the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth, Massachusetts. It has cranberry bogs, marshes, farms, art, and beaches. It is, in fact, the only bike trail on Cape Cod that goes along the ocean, although the Cape Cod Canal Bike Trail winds along the water of the Cape Cod Canal.
Riding the Shining Sea Bikeway is an ideal way to spend one day on Cape Cod or as a day trip from Boston. Read on for my experience riding the Shining Sea Bikeway on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, during the late summer of 2020, with my nephew, tour guide extraordinaire, and Cape Cod local, Dominic.
The History of the Shining Sea Bikeway
Like most of New England’s bike paths, this trail was created over an old railroad path. This scenic piece of America takes its name from lyrics in “America the Beautiful,” written by Falmouth native, Katherine Lee Bates. The railroad line brought NewYorkers and Bostonians to their vacations on Cape Cod from 1872 to 1965. The bike trail was opened in 1974.
How Long is the Shining Sea Bikeway?
This 10.7-mile trail travels from North Falmouth to Wood’s Hole. It is paved and mainly flat.
How Difficult is the Shining Sea Bikeway?
Although the whole trail is long (around 22 miles round trip), sounding daunting to new riders, it is a flat ride and can be done by most people in one day.
How Long Will it Take to Bike the Whole Shining Sea Bikeway?
We completed our ride on the trail in three hours of riding, but we frequently take long rides. Be sure to read about our other New England rides. I also tend to stop to take a lot of pictures and look at wildlife.
Features of the Shining Sea Bikeway
- Bourne Farm- The farmhouse was built in 1775 and was one of the first seven buildings in West Falmouth.
- Cordoza Farm
- On the 49 acres of Bourne Farm, you can hike the “Big Loop,” “Middle Road.”
- Herring Run Trail
Mountain Biking Trails
- Salt Pond Bird Sanctuary
Active Cranberry Bogs
I believe that the bog you ride through is owned by Bourne Farm, but I was not able to confirm this. Speaking of cranberry bogs, I had a fabulous New England experience last year of taking a cranberry bog tour. Read about that experience.
- Little Sippewissett Marsh- Named by the Wampanoag tribe “little river” or “place of the brook.”
- Beebe Woods
- Surf Drive Beach
- Falmouth Beach
- Quisset Beach
- Trunk River Beach
- You can find bike-themed murals along the way made by local school children.
- Residents along the bike path have built their art along the path. A few examples include a herd of reindeer and an antique junkyard similar to the Chatham Shack.
- Placed to scale, you will find signs along the bike path for the planets and Pluto. I am so glad they still included Pluto. The signs give interesting facts about the planets, but the QR codes no longer work.
Where to Park for the Shining Sea Bikeway
There are four main choices for where to park and reasons to choose each.
- Depot Street lot in North Falmouth- We choose this lot because we drove in from off-Cape, and it is the most northern parking lot for the trail. We knew we wanted to bike the whole course, so I wanted to start at an end. We also didn’t want to deal with the traffic of Wood’s Hole.
- Falmouth Bus Depot- If you want only to do a part of the trail, this parking lot lies near the middle, so it is an excellent place to start.
- Wood’s Hole- Park here if you want to start by the ocean. You may have to be bused in from a satellite lot as parking is limited because Wood’s Hole is busy.
- There is a lot across from West Falmouth Market between the Falmouth Bus Depot and Depot Road.
How to Make a Day out of your Time on the Shining Sea Bikeway
- Spend time hiking or mountain biking any of the many trails coming off the bike trail, including trails around the cranberry bog or to nearby ponds.
- Bring towels and visit one of the beaches just off the trail.
- Visit the Nobska Lighthouse or Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Center.
- Have a meal in the middle of your ride. In North Falmouth, you will find the Silver Lounge. If you stop here, be sure to request the Caboose.
- Jump on the ferry in Wood’s Hole to Martha’s Vineyard. Don’t forget to take your bike, as it has terrific trails.
- Spend time in Wood’s Hole, grabbing ice cream, a drink, or dinner. Dominic’s favorite restaurant here is Quick’s Hole.
- We stopped for ice cream at Candy Go Nuts, which is not homemade but has yummy, unique flavors. We then went fishing off the docks in Falmouth to watch the sunset. Then we had dinner at one of my favorite Cape Cod Restaurants, The Lobster Trap. They have a lot of outdoor seating, is right on the water, and has an excellent ahi tuna pad thai and lobster Reuben sandwich.
The Shining Star Bike Path is my favorite Cape Cod bike path because, in just a few hours, I can see the things I love about the Cape- the ocean, history, nature, and cranberries. Have you been on this trail? What did you think?