The Shining Sea Bikeway

North Falmouth to Woods Hole |

The Shining Sea Bikeway is a 10.7-mile tour through four of Falmouth’s villages, gently traversing glacier-sculpted natural wonders from Woods Hole on Vineyard Sound to North Falmouth along the shore of Buzzards Bay. It is the only bike path on Cape Cod that runs along the sea.

Officially dedicated as a bicentennial project in 1975, and one of America’s first 500 rail trails, Shining Sea Bikeway occupies the rail bed of the now-defunct New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company. Today it is a multi-use trail for residents and visitors to cycle, walk, jog, skate and cross-country ski on.

A walk or ride along the bikeway takes walkers and riders through a rich variety of natural environments: salt marshes, barrier beaches, open water, wooded uplands, cedar swamps and ponds. Wildlife is always close at hand; it is common to glimpse eels, egrets, herons, red-tailed hawks, osprey, turtles, red fox and deer along the way.

The bikeway’s name honors Katharine Lee Bates, born in Falmouth in 1859, who penned “America the Beautiful,” with its line, “And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!”

Facilities are never far from the bikeway. Water stations and portable toilets are stationed at regular intervals. Just off the trail’s northern section are a variety of restaurants and ice cream shops, as well as parking off County Road in North Falmouth. The middle section runs through the heart of Falmouth Village and features two dedicated rest stops: the Coconut Hut and Bud’s Stop Pavilion. The southern section ends in Woods Hole Village. Local art is featured all along the way.

“This trail is absolutely amazing,” wrote one reviewer. “The coastline along the path reminded me of my travels to southern France.”