The Best Hiking and Biking Trails on Cape Cod and the Islands
Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, and the Elizabeth Islands contain a multitude of hiking and biking trails, which give visitors direct access to some of the Cape’s unspoiled natural beauty. Most trails are perfect for the casual day hiker as there is not a lot of elevation or rough terrain. The gradual inclines and gentle slopes wind around through scenic salt marshes, kettle ponds, beaches, and forested areas, providing terrain for all levels of hikers and children.
A Few of the Most Popular Hiking and Biking Trails
Beech Forest (Outer Cape)Trailhead: Race Point Road, Provincetown
Distance: 0.8 miles
The Beech Forest walking trail winds its way through the thickly-forested dunes of the Outer Cape. The trail circles the perimeter of both Blackwater and Beech Ponds. There are several places of elevation but most of the trail is flat and hard-packed. A picturesque wooden boardwalk guides visitors over the damp sections near the ponds.
Cornelia Carey Sanctuary/the Knob (Upper Cape)Trailhead: Quissett Harbor Road, Falmouth
Distance: 0.5 miles
The Knob is a serene nature walk with spectacular views of Buzzards Bay. The sanctuary, which hugs the warm waters of Quissett Harbor, is also an ideal habitat for waterfowl and other birds. Over the years, birdwatchers have seen more than a hundred species of birds in the salt marshes that line this coastal bank.
Great Island (Outer Cape)Trailhead: 1440 Chequessett Neck Road, Wellfleet
Distance: 7.5 miles
Beginning at the Herring River outlet in Wellfleet Harbor, the Great Island loop provides a long hike without the need to double back. Soon the trail diverts from the Herring River and heads among the trees before coming out on the rocky cliffs overlooking Cape Cod Bay. The trail then heads into the sand dunes of Great Beach Hill. During low tide you can continue on to Jeremy Point or for a shorter hike, you can head back at the monument at the cliff, near the remnants of an old whaling tavern.
Menemsha Hills Reservation Trail (Martha’s Vineyard)Trailhead: 345 N Road, Chilmark
Distance: 3.7 miles
Hiking the winding trail of the Menemsha Hills Reservation, will lead you through the spectacular view of varied vegetation, from coastal grasslands to the salt marshes and tidal pools among the rocky terrain of the shore. The trail elevation of 106 meters, marks the second highest point of the island, providing some great views of the ocean. Hiking out of the forested trail, keep your eyes open on the dune cliffs for beach plum and goldenrod.
Here are a few of the major biking trails.
Cape Cod Rail Trail (Mid-Outer Cape)
The Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT) winds through the towns of Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet, before coming to an end near the Cape Cod National Seashore. In all, this trail stretches through Cape Cod for about 22 miles, intersecting with the Old Colony Rail Trail in Harwich and with Nickerson State Park in Brewster.
The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation opened the CCRT in the 1970s. The paved trail lets people skip the traffic on Route 6A and travel up and down the Cape by bike instead. While not every section of the CCRT offers scenic views, the trail winds through many of the historic towns, pastures, and forests that make up inland Cape Cod.
Shining Sea Bikeway (Upper Cape)
The Shining Sea Bikeway connects North Falmouth with the scenic village of Woods Hole. On the way, the 10-mile bike path passes through downtown Falmouth and next to the sparkling waters of Vineyard Sound. Avoid Falmouth’s notorious summer traffic by riding a bike, taking a run, or skating down the coast of Falmouth on this picturesque bike path.
Cape Cod Province Lands Trail (Outer Cape)
The Cape Cod Province Lands Trail is scenic a 5.45-mile loop that takes bicyclists, joggers, and skaters over sandy dunes, in between saltwater kettle ponds, and through a shady beach forest. On this paved bike path, visitors can experience the diverse landscape and unique ecosystems of the outer cape, while taking in spectacular views of Cape Cod Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.