Whether you're cruising to the beach or riding to the store, pedal power is often the most practical and fun way to get around on Cape Cod.

While most of the Cape’s main roads are bike-friendly, traffic can be notoriously heavy and parking is limited during the busy Cape summers. Fortunately, there are plenty of paved cycling paths that travel through forests, marshes and areas of sand dunes that you’d never see from a car.

Cyclists have the added bonus of not having to pay for parking at many popular beaches. Whether you're browsing the stores on Main Street or beach-hopping along the peninsula, here are the best cycling paths on Cape Cod.

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Cape Cod Rail Trail

Best way to see the inner Cape

Yarmouth–Wellfleet; 27.5 miles; 2–6 hours

Passing pine-shaded forests and kettle ponds, and weaving through charming main streets, the Cape Cod Rail Trail is a 27.5-mile route along the former path of the Old Colony Railroad. The railroad carried goods and passengers throughout the Cape from 1845 to the early 1900s.

Extended in 2021, this multi-use route now travels between Yarmouth and Wellfleet, allowing riders to visit South Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham and South Wellfleet, with a spur running down to Chatham.

The trail passes by some of the Cape’s best attractions, including Long Pond, Nickerson State Park and the beautiful Cape Cod National Seashore. Bridges and tunnels eliminate many road crossings, making for a peaceful and safe ride, and several bike shops near the route rent out bikes if needed, including Dennis Cycle Center.

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Shining Sea Bikeway

The best bike route for discovering Falmouth and Woods Hole

Woods Hole–North Falmouth; 10.7 miles; 2 hours

The Shining Sea Bikeway takes its name from a line in the song America the Beautiful, written by Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates in 1895. This 10.7-mile route travels between the Steamship Authority ferry terminal at Woods Hole and North Falmouth, and was once a spur of the New Haven and Hartford Railroad.

Flat and paved, the Shining Sea Bikeway passes cranberry bogs, the Great Sippewissett Marsh, and the historic Bourne Farm nature sanctuary, running roughly parallel to the 28A. The Falmouth, Quissett, Trunk River and Fay beaches are easily reached along the south end of the Bikeway.

The northern end of the bikeway has a bike station with tools and pumps available, and nearby Bike Zone rents and repairs bikes. The proposed 6.5-mile Bourne Rail Trail will eventually connect the Shining Sea Bikeway to the Cape Cod Canal Bikeway.

A young woman on a bicycle watches a cruise ship on the Cape Cod Canal
A cyclist follows a cruise ship on the scenic Cape Cod Canal © KenWiedemann / Getty Images

Cape Cod Canal Bikeway

The Cape’s best on-the-water bike route

Bourne Bridge–Sagamore Bridge; 13.5 miles; 2 hours

The Cape Cod Canal Bikeway travels between the Bourne and Sagamore bridges along the north (7 miles) and south (6.5 miles) banks of the Cape Cod Canal. Cycling here provides idyllic views of the canal and its boat traffic.

The bikeway is managed by the US Corps of Engineers, and numbered signposts (with corresponding brochures) mark points of interest along the route, including the point where the waters of Cape Cod and Buzzards Bay finally met.

The Buzzards Bay, Herring Run, Bourne and Tidal Flats recreation areas on the Canal can all be accessed from the Bikeway, making this a great choice for a picnic on a sunny day.

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Old Colony Rail Trail

Best Cape Cod side trip

Harwich–Chatham; 7.5 miles; 2–3 hours

The Old Colony Rail Trail is a 7.5-mile paved path connecting Harwich to Chatham, and it's an easy add-on to the Cape Cod Rail Trail. This spur branches off the Cape Cod Rail Trail near the Harwich Bicycle Rotary, and travels east to Crowell Road in Chatham, from where it’s easy to ride on the road to the shops and restaurants on Chatham’s beautiful Main Street.

The Old Colony Rail Trail passes several freshwater ponds, including White Pond and the Chatham Municipal Airport, where the Hanger B restaurant (open Wednesdays through Sundays, 7am to 2pm) is a favorite local stop for breakfast, lunch and coffee.

Parked bicycle on a beachside bike path at Cape Cod
Cycling to the beach is one of the great pleasures of a trip to Cape Cod © Lorie Brownell / Shutterstock

Province Lands Bike Trail

Best ride to experience the Cape Cod National Seashore

Provincetown; 5.5 miles; 1–2 hours

Just north of Provincetown, the Province Lands Bike Trail is a 5.5-mile loop trail at the very tip of the Cape, within the protected area of the Cape Cod National Seashore, with short spur trails to Race Point Beach (0.5 miles), Herring Cove Beach (1.1 miles) and Bennett Pond (0.25 miles).

The main trail has four access points, including at Province Lands Visitor Center, which overlooks Race Point Beach. The loop trail can be slightly hilly as it winds through sand dunes and sand often blows over the pavement in some areas, so bikes with wider tires are recommended. 

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Nauset Bike Marsh

Best biking trail for families

Eastham; 1.6 miles; 30 minutes

Nauset Bike Marsh is a 1.6-mile trail connecting the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham to Coast Guard Beach. It's known for its picturesque Coast Guard station and big waves that attract surfers in summer.

The Salt Pond Visitor Center is open year-round and access is free, making this a great way to reach this often-crowded Atlantic Ocean beach. The short trail is great for younger riders and passes through shady forests on the way to the beach.

Girl playing with sand on beach, Truro, Massachusetts, Cape Cod
Cycling is a great way to avoid the rush for parking spaces near the beaches at Truro © Image Source Trading Ltd / Shutterstock

Head of the Meadow Trail

Best bike route for discovering the Truro coastline

Truro; 2 miles; 30-45 minutes

Two miles long, the Head of the Meadow Trail in Truro connects the parking area by the intersection of Cliff Road and High Head Road to Head of the Meadow Beach. Along the way, a small granite monument marks Pilgrim Spring, a freshwater spring used by pilgrims from the Mayflower, who landed here in 1620 on Wampanoag land before sailing on to Plymouth.

Biking this route is a great way to avoid parking issues at the beach. At Head of the Meadow Beach, there’s a bike rack and restrooms, and lifeguards patrol the sands during the summer.

At low tide, keep your eyes peeled for the ribs of shipwrecks sticking out of the shoals. From Head of the Meadow Beach, an unpaved trail continues for a short distance to Coast Guard Beach.

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