Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Cape Cod's Most Beautiful Routes to Explore

2020 is currently perhaps the craziest time any of us will see in our lifetimes.  Quarantine is the norm and social distancing highly recommended.  However it is also recommended that people get outside somehow and get a daily dose of Vitamin D.  Those of us lucky enough to live on Cape Cod are close to endless possibilities to see beautiful sites in the sun.
This article will help you stay active and see the sites of one of the most unique places on earth while also keeping with the current new normal of the world during the pandemic.  You can choose to run, walk, bicycle, there is no right or wrong as long as you are moving. These are in no particular order but they all give you a glimpse into the heart and soul of Cape Cod.

Cape Cod Canal: This is an easy, paved bike trail which runs along the Canal and underneath two of the three bridges. Parking is free at the Railroad Bridge. The entirety of the bike path is between seven and eight miles. It is roughly five miles to make it from the railroad bridge to the Sagamore Bridge, ten miles round trip.
Looking toward the railroad bridge along the Cape Cod Canal.

Chatham Shore: For the active Cape Codder the shore route is a way to see many highlights of the quaint fishing village of Chatham. Parking is free on Cow Yard Lane which faces the North Beach Island cottages. The route takes you along Shore Rd. and past the legendary Chatham Bars Inn and Hydrangea House. Along the way you pass Chatham Lighthouse and head out to Morris Island. The route is between six and seven miles round trip.
Chatham Lighthouse

Province Lands Bike Trail: Nestled in the dunes of Provincetown this is an authentic look at untouched Cape Cod beauty. The bike trail follows the dunes rather than cutting through them. The loop from Herring Cove Beach, past Race Point Beach and back is filled with an almost infinite number of breathtaking sites. The route is anywhere from 5 ½ to 7 miles depending on how far you want to go.
A view of the ocean from the Province Lands Bike Trail

Osterville: Keeping with coastal scenery this route brings you from one of the most popular Cape beaches, Craigville, into rural Osterville. It begins at Craigville Beach and carries you away from the ocean to South Main Street.  Near Bumps River, you turn onto Starboard Lane with its numerous beautiful homes and secluded feel and follow to where it meets Old Mill Rd. This route is 6 miles round trip.

Yarmouth Beaches: Beautiful homes along the water? Check. Historic sites? Check. Several scenic beaches? Check. All that’s left is to take to the road to enjoy them all. Pleasant Street is where the route begins; you pass by beautiful homes along a shady portion of River Street before passing by the historic Judah Baker Windmill. After this you are just seconds from the ocean meaning anytime along the route you can cool off in the saltwater. Once you see Red Jacket Resort it’s time to turn and go back. This route is 6 miles.
The jetty at Smuggler's Beach

Cape Cod Rail Trail: Stretching from Dennis all the way into Wellfleet, with an offshoot into Chatham, the Rail Trail is nearly 30 miles of paved, scenic majesty. It is a bit much to do all of those miles but there is a great section that gives one a good idea of what the trail is all about. Starting at Headwaters Drive off of Rt. 124 in Harwich you head east across a cranberry bog, past several ponds and to the entrance of Nickerson State Park. This route is 12 miles round trip.
Sunset at Seymour Pond in Harwich

Nickerson State Park: Loaded with kettle ponds and campsites Nickerson is a virtual haven for active Cape Codders. The bike trail weaves along the main park roads but also has many offshoot trails that lead you into some of the park’s nooks and crannies. The main attractions of Nickerson are never more than a quick ride or run from the trail. The bike trail is 8 miles total.
Big Cliff Pond at Nickerson

Falmouth & Woods Hole: One of the science community's most well known spots coupled with sweeping panoramic views of Martha’s Vineyard make this a worthwhile jaunt. The Shining Sea Bikeway intersects at a few places but the route leads from Surf Drive Beach along the shore past Nobska Lighthouse and down to Water Street in Woods Hole. This route is 9 miles round trip.
Nobska Lighthouse

Coast To Coast: Going from coast to coast on the Cape can be long, like from Sandwich south to Mashpee, or short like near Pilgrim Lake in Truro. Going from Cape Cod Bay to the Atlantic Ocean in Wellfleet is close but just far enough to make it worthwhile. Parking at Mayo Beach is best. The route takes you on Long Pond Road over Rt. 6 and down to The Beachcomber on Cahoon Hollow Beach, then head back. This route is 7 miles round trip.
Mayo Beach

The Least Known Island: In Mashpee there is Monomoscoy Island tucked away from the ocean along Waquoit Bay. South Cape Beach State Park is a perfect starting point for this trip. Head away from the water and down Red Brook Road and down across a causeway. The island is a mix of old cottages and newer lush homes. This finger of land has tremendous water views on either side as you get toward the tip. It is a hidden gem that is better appreciated outside of a car. This route is 11 miles round trip.
The entrance to Monomoscoy

My 5th book, Cape Cod Nights, is on sale at and through Arcadia Publishing

View my previous blog postsIn Their Footsteps: Cape Cod History - Deacon John Doane

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