Curling nearly 11 miles past woodlands, marshes, salt ponds and seascape, the Shining Sea Bikeway is the only bikeway on Cape Cod to skirt the shore. Also called the Shining Sea Bike Path, the paved trail extends from County Route 151 in Falmouth to the Woods Hole Steamship Authority's site in Woods Hole, a historical seaside fishing village and home to an internationally known scientific community.
Rich in history, the bikeway follows prehistoric Wampanoag Indian trails. Members of the Algonquin Nation, the peaceful Wampanoag were notable seafarers who thrived here on a plentiful diet of shellfish, fish, game, wildfowl, berries, roots and nuts. In 1620 Wampanoag Chief Massasoit greeted Pilgrims, the first substantial wave of European immigrants. By the 1850s, Falmouth had become a destination for summer tourists, and the Penn Central Railroad soon stretched from Monument Village to Woods Hole, tracing the ancient Wampanoag trails.
The railroad stopped service in 1957, and within 20 years, the bikeway was built and dedicated as part of Falmouth's bicentennial celebrations. Today it serves as an inter-modal transportation link, connecting automobile, bus, ferry and bicycle routes. Its name comes from "America the Beautiful," the famous poem by Katherine Lee Bates, a Falmouth native.
From Falmouth head south through a residential and commercial district. Along the shaded path you will soon reach an information kiosk and spur path to the left for the Salt Pond Areas Bird Sanctuary. This 60-acre preserve between the bikeway and ocean offers a network of footpaths from which you can spot many species of shorebirds as well as river otters and muskrats. Soon after the sanctuary, the trail leaves the woods to reveal an expansive ocean view. This is truly the scenic highlight of the bikeway. Between the trail and the ocean lies Trunk River Beach, a barrier strand consisting of pebbles, cobbles and sand. Pause here to breathe in the sea air or watch ospreys and herons glide over Vineyard Sound.
Continuing along the shore, the bikeway soon crosses the Woods Hole Steamship Authority parking lot. The trail ends in Woods Hole, affording you plenty of places to eat or shop.
Parking and Trail Access
There are several places to park in the southern half of the trail. In Woods Hole, street spaces are available. You'll also find several places as you head north from Woods Hole on Fay Road. Other parking is on Oyster Pond Road, Elm Road and several places in Falmouth (refer to the map for more details).