The best places to bike on Cape Cod | Captain Freeman Inn

Shade garden at the inn

We have sunshine and warmth this morning on Cape Cod, and I have plans to plant a good portion of our vegetable and herb garden this week. With the wonderful weather we have also had many guests starting to bring their bikes. Cape Cod is a mecca for cycling with over 114 miles of pristine bike paths that are perfect for both experienced and pleasure bikers. Shown below is everything you need to know about cycling your way around Cape Cod. In many cases no need for a car- as your bike can get you to and from some beautiful destinations.

Bike Trails on Cape Cod

We are so fortunate to have the Cape Cod Rail Trail run right through Brewster and our Nickerson State Park is just up the street from the inn and offers some more challenging off road cycling.

Guests cycling from the Freeman

Just love the shot above that were guests that cycled everywhere from our central location. They were very prepared and professional and cycle together throughout the summer- what fun!

Our guests can choose from trails that run by picturesque towns,  the National Seashore,  the Cape Cod Canal and by many wonderful kettle ponds. It’s the perfect opportunity to wear your swim suit under your  clothing, grab a towel from the inn and pickup a to go lunch- you are in for a VERY magical day on Cape Cod!

If you are from Boston you can take your bikes on the ferry that will drop you off in Provincetown or you can take your bikes for free  on the CapeFLYER seasonal train service from Boston to Cape Cod.

Shown below are details of the 8 bike paths we like to recommend to our guests along with links to maps of the trails for your phone:

Cape Cod Rail Trail (22-mile off road paved path)
Download a Trail Map

This breathtaking trail is on the original route of the old Cape Cod Railroad. It is beautifully maintained and can be used for walking or biking. The trail runs through six- mid to lower Cape towns including, Brewster, Dennis, Orleans, Harwich and the National Seashore in Eastham. We always tell our guests that if you bike on the northern route you will go through picturesque towns, our Nickerson State Park, the beautiful Rock Harbor area and at the end- the breathtaking Cape Cod National Seashore Center and Le Count Hollow in Wellfleet. If you head south you will go by cranberry bogs and refreshing kettle ponds. There are different parking areas along the way but you can easily connect directly from the inn.

Menu from the Chocolate Sparrow in Orleans

We love to recommend that you stop at the Chocolate Sparrow for an ice-cream or a delicious sandwich at the Local Flavors Old Fashion Store which are both right on the bike path.

Local Flavors in Harwich

Cape Cod Canal Bike Paths (14.2 miles of paved, off road trails)
Download a Trail Map

These paths run along both sides of the Cape Cod Canal.  It is easy to traverse and a wonderful way to see our man made waterway.  Following the length of the Canal roughly 7½ miles between the Bourne and Sagamore Bridges, the bikeway itself is smooth concrete, with a well-defined single yellow line painted down the center designating two-way traffic.  Enjoy beautiful sea breezes and watch the neverending ship and boat traffic through the Canal.  There are ample spots to stop and take in the beautiful scenery.  On the off-Cape side, pedal from Buzzards Bay to Scusset Beach (about seven miles).  Or, start at the Herring Run on Route 6 or at any parking lot from the Sagamore Rotary.  Cape-side, pedal from Sandwich to Bourne, about 6.8 miles, or start at the U.S. Engineering Observation Station, Sandwich or from Pleasant Street, Sagamore.

Cape Cod Canal

Shining Sea Bikeway (10.7 miles of paved, off road trails)
Download a Trail Map
This beautiful path follows the original route on the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad and runs from North Falmouth village all the way to the Woods Hole, home to Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Marine Biological Laboratory.   The spectacular views offered from the freshly minted section of Shining Sea Bikeway are right out of the Katherine Lee Bates song “America the Beautiful,” from which the path gets its name. The route goes by picturesque beaches. past cranberry bogs and through Marshes and even includes the Salt Pond Bird Sanctuary.

The Chatham Loop 

If you take the Cape Cod Rail Trail south you will pass a bike rotary that will connect you to Chatham and the Chatham Loop where you can see the Chatham Fish Pier, Chatham Light and many picturesque harbors.

Nauset Marsh Trail- (1.6 miles)
Begins at the Salt Pond Visitors Center (Route 6) or Doane Rock Picnic area, both in Eastham, and runs to Coast Guard Beach in Eastham, intersecting with the Cape Cod Rail Trail.  The trail provides a panoramic vista of the Atlantic Ocean.  A three mile roundtrip, this route first wanders through a large grove of cedar, pine and oak.  Beyond, rolling countryside awaits along with a trailside bench to stop, rest and enjoy the scenery at.  Be sure to take a detour at the second stop sign to the Doane Memorial, a monument to Deacon John Doane.  Right on the marsh, this site marks where he built his home in 1644.  Back on the paved path, prepare to cross a wooden bridge spanning the marsh overlooking Salt Pond.  A short distance further is the old Coast Guard Station, overlooking Coast Guard Beach.  The beach itself is a sprawling and beautiful site, with waves lapping the shore as far as the eye can see in either direction.  Also, scope the shoreline for surfers who commonly share the water with curious harbor seals.

Head of the Meadow Trail- (2 miles)
Cyclists can access this trail in Truro at Head of the Meadow Beach parking area; its runs to peaceful Head of the Meadow Beach.

Province Lands Trail- (7¼ miles)
This is a challenging paved loop through the majestic dunes leading to Herring Cove and Race Point Beaches in Provincetown. This hilly loop starts from the Province Lands Visitor Center in Provincetown. The route is 7-¼ miles long. But with the trail extensions to Herring Cove Beach, Race Point Beach and Bennet Pond, two more miles can be added to your distance. Riding the trail is a great way to tour the vast dune system in the Province Lands area, as well as its shady Beech Forest, one of the few places within the tract with extensive tree cover. There are several entry areas. This trail is certain to become a favorite for bicyclists, although the route can turn difficult due to the hilly terrain. The paved network traverses much of Province Lands’ 4,000 wild acres, winding through and over the dunes of Provincetown and other local sand formations.  In your travels you’ll explore cranberry bogs, marshes and skirt several saltwater kettle ponds, as well. From breathtaking marshland to magnificent exposed dunes to expansive shore views, these trails feature much spectacular scenery.  An added convenience is that they also offer direct access to both Race Point and Herring Cove beaches.

Wellfleet Town
The casual cyclist will find a lot of beauty and enjoyment in this Outer Cape town. Aside from more than two dozen art galleries, there are winding roads through a quaint village, or a bustling Main Street. Everything is just a short bike ride from Bay to Ocean.

Cape Cod National Seashore Bike Shuttle– providing service between Marconi Beach Road in Wellfleet, and MacMillan Pier in Provincetown. Operating in the summer months, the shuttles will make stops along the way at beaches, bike trails, bus stops, and town centers, and will operate on a 90 minute schedule. Check out a previous blog that talks about many of the beautiful beaches on the National Seashore and the history of this beautiful preservation land.

Forthill walk

5 Best Beaches to Bike To

And because we all love to hop on our bikes to go to the beach- shown below are our favorite beaches that are easily accessible by bike:

Crosby Beach (Brewster)

We love Crosby Beach which is usually where our brides decide to have their beach weddings. You can easily connect on the Cape Cod Rail Trail and ride down Crosby Lane to reach the beach. Don’t miss a stop at Crosby Mansion where you can peak in the windows. Check out a previous blog for historical facts about the mansion.

Trunk River Beach (Falmouth)

If you are looking for a quiet beach near the southern end of the Shining Sea Bikeway check out Trunk River Beach. It’s a rocky barrier strand that serves as a perfect pit stop along the 10.7-mile converted trail. You’ll also enjoy great bird watching and fishing on this stretch and might see and osprey or heron gliding over Vineyard Sound where an abundance of fish swim in the sea.

The Shining Sea Bikeway winds through picturesque Cape Cod scenery and connects Trunk River Beach to nearby Falmouth destinations, like Surf Drive Beach and Nobska Light.

West Dennis Beach (Dennis)

The Cape Cod Rail Trail offers many opportunities to veer off the bike path for a stop at a nearby Cape Cod beach.  West Dennis Beach is a perfect detour off the bike trail as it sits at the mouth of the Bass River. While West Dennis Beach is one of the town’s most popular beaches, it rarely feels crowded because it is so expansive. The fine sand stretches for exactly one mile giving patrons plenty of room to stretch out.

Being on the ocean-side of Cape Cod, the water at West Dennis Beach is chillier than at the bayside beaches, but the calm waters make it a perfect place to swim. If you’re more adventurous, try your hand at windsurfing here. There’s usually a good breeze, which makes it a great place to try the sport.

Coast Guard Beach (Eastham)

There is no parking at Coast Guard Beach from mid-June to Labor Day, so it’s best to pick up the Nauset Bicycle Trail at Salt Pond Visitor Center for a leisure 1.6-mile bike ride to the beach. Located in the heart of the National Seashore, Coast Guard Beach is a favorite among Cape Cod beaches. It is where the Mayflower first sighted land in 1620, and today it is frequently recognized as one of the best in America.

This beach is also one of the most popular spots for surfers looking to catch a wave. Here, the waves are more powerful than they are at other Cape Cod beaches and are shared by surfers and boogie-boarders alike.

Head of the Meadow Beach (Truro)

Located near the tip of Cape Cod on the untamed Atlantic side, Head of the Meadow Beach is a secluded spot where tourists and locals alike can enjoy one of Cape Cod’s best beaches. Its two-mile long namesake trail leads bikers down a bumpy stretch of pavement past forest and towering dunes before ending at the beach. Here, patrons will find a wide stretch of unspoiled coastline that easily connects to nearby National Seashore beaches.


Herring Cove Beach (Provincetown)

Herring Cove Beach is a popular stop for bikers along the challenging Province Lands Trail. It is a stunning strip of sand that emerges just past Provincetown’s undulating dunes, and it is managed by the Cape Cod National Seashore. Located at the knuckle of Cape Cod’s iconic arm-shaped peninsula, the gorgeous beach here is wide and seems to go on forever.

Herring Cove Beach is relatively rocky for those just looking for a stroll, but the water here is unusually warm and calm because it’s on the bayside. Stay for the breathtaking sunsets in the evening, and spot whales breaching and seals bobbing in the distance.

Oh my goodness- summer, swimming and biking is here on Cape Cod.

Come and enjoy a relaxing stay at the Captain Freeman Inn and enjoy our beautiful gardens and solar heated salt water pool. Our winter renovations included new central air, redecorating several of the rooms and several new gardens, including a new blueberry patch.  We also have been adding many new breakfast items including lemon ginger scones, brioche donuts and homemade sorbet…mmmmnn!

Happy Summer everyone.

For more detailed information and maps on our incredible biking paths check out the following page.

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