Where I live last weekend was a continuation of summer; humid, hot, not great for being outdoors with my limited capacity for tolerating heat. But the coast promised cooler temperatures. I have an aversion to spending time on the Cape (Cape Cod) during the summer. Too hot, too crowded, too, too much. But almost instantly once Labor Day is past, the Cape becomes a quite lovely place to be.
We drove through fog as we headed south, but once we crossed the Bourne Bridge the fog lifted. Our goal was the Shining Sea Bikeway.
Unlike many bike paths, a portion of this trail follows right alongside the shore. In Falmouth, near Woods Hole, if you choose, you can get off your bike and step right into the ocean, just a few feet away.
But there is much more to this nearly 11 mile long railtrail than stunning views of the ocean. Not surprisingly, the beach section of the path is the most crowded. But once we headed north up into Falmouth, we encountered many fewer travelers.
After going through some woodland, we came out to a spot that offered stunning views of the Little Sippewissett Marsh, with sand dunes (and the shore) off in the distance. Farther along the trail, heading north, we traveled past cranberry bogs.
We ventured off the trail for a bit and found a boat ramp, as well as a popular beach area (Silver Beach). Lots of folks arrived on bikes along with us.
We encountered very few cars on our side trip off the bike path.
The sun was shining when we set out, but as we got closer to the shore near Woods Hole, fog was blowing in. The ocean was strangely quiet for such an exposed beach area. At the southern terminus of the trail we found passengers, on foot and in cars, lining up to board the ferry to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. There is available parking for those using the bike path, but you will pay a fee to park at this end of the trail. All other lots along the bike path are free.
Once we put the bike away, we got some lunch then headed back to the beach to get in some walking. The beach near Woods Hole was by then in bright sunshine, too hot for me, but just east the fog remained, so we headed over to the Salt Pond Area path. This can be accessed directly from the biketrail, but there is also parking for visitors interested in access to views of the salt pond. Here we found an Easy Walk loop trail that led out to the edge of the Salt Pond. Along the way we found black raspberries, very ripe Concord grapes as well as grapes that appear to be a hybrid–very similar to the Concord grapes, but a deep red, and much tastier! We were sorry our yard has no room, and too little sun or we would have brought some seeds home to plant.
Rt. 495 makes this bike trail a quick ride from our area, just over an hour to the northern end of the trail. We spent time looking for parking but next time we would go down 28A, rather than Rt 28 and would have had an easier time spotting parking areas. 28A has more ice cream spots open as well! They had sold out the last of the cranberry walnut ice cream, so we’ll have to go back next year…
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed. Just out is her latest book, Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress. She is a co-author of the recent community history, Bellingham Now and Then.