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Shining Sea Bikeway, Cape Cod MA


• 5-star trail
• 10.6 miles each way
• Easy difficulty | Easy elevation
• Falmouth, MA | Cape Cod
• Driving Directions: Marked on map


Nobska Point & lighthouse, close to the rail trail.

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During a ten-mile rail trail journey, the Shining Sea Bikeway offers explorers a diverse range of views and picturesque coastal surroundings, showcasing many of the elements that make Cape Cod a great destination for visitors.

When travelling south through Falmouth and towards Woods Hole as a destination, anticipate long avenues of asphalt trail lined with trees offering plenty of shade, occasionally interrupted by cranberry bogs, ponds, coastal inlets and exposed marshland. Along the way there are several parking areas that allowing you to shorten your total mileage if desired.

The lush and verdant trail continues through downtown Falmouth, passing a former railroad passenger depot that's been converted into a restaurant. It then proceeds to Oyster Pond, then a long stretch of trail that runs parallel to Vineyard Sound and white pebble beaches.

Asphalt, Bike Lane, Road, Live Rail, Expand Map

Shining Sea Bikeway 5★
10.6 miles each way, Easy, Gain 170 ft (200ft S-N)
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails
Trailspotting Map: GPX Download
Trailspotting Map: Google Earth KMZ

The last segment of the rail trail leading to Woods Hole and the ferry terminal involves passing through a lengthy parking lot and a moderately quiet section of road covering a distance of approximately half a mile. Lock up your bikes and investigate the town on foot, or continue on your wheeled journey to widen your explorations of the town further afield.

Nobska Lighthouse Loop 5★
+1.1 mile detour, Medium, Gain 100ft
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails
Trailspotting Map: GPX Download
Trailspotting Map: Google Earth KMZ

This 1.7 mile road biking excursion forms a rewarding detour, bypassing a mostly uneventful section of trail while adding only 1.1 miles to your total distance. Notable highlights along this route include the Nobska Point lighthouse and the pristine white sandy shore of Nobska Beach, offering captivating views of Martha's Vineyard in the distance. To start this detour when you're heading south, watch out for a trail on your right immediately after crossing the trail bridge over Nobska Road. Alternatively, if you approaching from Woods Hole, proceed up Woods Hole Road and hang a right at Church Street.

During this brief detour close to Woods Hole, you may also find interest in an architectural curiosity, one of Buckminster Fuller's eariest geodesic domes. Initially a restaurant, the building is now deserted and dilapidated, awaiting a promised imminent refurbishment as a historical landmark.


Biking the Shining Sea trail parallel to Falmouth's pebbly beaches.


Signs of rail history by a North Falmouth restaurant, the Sliver Lounge.

The destinations of Falmouth and Woods hole, combined with the numerous and diverse sights along the way make this possibly our favourite Massachusetts rail trail to date. Don't let the length of the route dissuade you from visiting, as you can simply shorten your route by beginning your journey at a starting point further to the south.

Although the trail is designated as a bikeway, it is also eminently suitable for pedestrians. We recommend that folk on foot might particularly enjoy the section between downtown Falmouth and Woods Hole, especially along the pebbly Falmouth beaches, since segments of the trail north of here can be a little long and straight.

Trail Conditions:
Smooth asphalt throughout, except for a half-mile quiet road biking closest to Woods Hole. No significant gradient, except for small hills on the lighthouse loop. Very busy on weekends and holidays.



Former Falmouth station, now an inviting eatery en-route.


Views of Woods Hole's Little Harbor from the rail trail.

Tangents:
• External Links: Public Map at AllTrails, TrailLink
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

Nearby Trails:
• 8 miles away: Cape Cod Canal Bikeway
• 23 miles away: Cape Cod Rail Trail (4★ 28mi Easy)
• Show on map: All nearby rail trails

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