History Of The Shining Sea Bikeway
Many years ago, there was a railroad line run by the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Companies. This line ran from Buzzards Bay near the Bourne Bridge and continued through the towns of North Falmouth, West Falmouth meandering its way around Woods Hole until it came to the Falmouth Station. The Railroad company found it too expensive to keep up with the repairs. So, they sold the right of way to the Town of Falmouth in the early 1970’s.
Once the Town disposed of all the tracks and cleared the pathway, they opened a 3.3 mile bikeway in 1975. Later in 2009 with the help of a 3.2 million grant provided by the Federal Government, the Town was able to extend the bikeway another 7.4 miles all the way to North Falmouth. From the Steamship Authority in Woods Hole and traveling to North Falmouth, this bikeway now stretches 10.7 miles.
Where Did The Name Shining Sea Bikeway Originate?
We all have heard the song “America the Beautiful.” But did you know it was composed by one of Falmouth’s very own residents, Katherine Lee Bates? The famous line ….from sea to shining sea was the inspiration for this bikeway. One can only appreciate how appropriate these words are once you travel along the Shining Sea Bikeway.
What’s The Best Way To Get To This Bike Path?
If you are coming from Boston, take Route 24 South to 1-495 south to the Bourne Bridge or from points north take Route 3 South to the Sagamore Bridge rotary. Follow the signs to Buzzards Bay and Falmouth, then cross over the Bourne Bridge. Follow Rt 28 to North Falmouth and park at the corner of County Rd and Rt 151.
What You Expect On The Shining Sea Bikeway?
The beautiful bike path is excellent for casual bikers as well as experienced cyclists. I prefer starting in North Falmouth as there are choices for bike accessories or bike rentals should you need them. The Bike Zone at 13 County Rd North Falmouth offers different types of bikes, both for purchase and rental. They offer rentals by the hour or by the month. Not only that, they even deliver your rental to you with enough advance notice.
I suggest calling ahead as the summer months can get a bit busier. Art’s Bike Shop at 91 County Road also offers rentals at very reasonable rates. If you are a party of 6 or more, plan on making reservations. They also do repairs and sells accessories. Once you are fully equipped put your helmet on and jump on your bike but be prepared to keep a couple of things in mind. You will be sharing the bikeway with walkers, rollerbladers, baby carriages and dog walkers.
If you are walking your dog, remember to leash your dog at all times and stay to the right. Speed limits are 15 miles per hour. But honestly, if you go any faster, you will miss all that The Shining Sea Bikeway has to offer. This bikeway path is flat, wide and well marked. You won’t be disappointed when you see beautifully manicured lawns, cranberry bogs in North Falmouth and even some eclectic pieces of antiques strategically placed at the back of someone’s yard for your perusal.
As you head towards West Falmouth you have other options too. If you need a break, ride your bike over to West Falmouth Harbor which is on the right hand side of the path. If you are hungry, cross over to the left and enjoy a coffee, danish or sandwich at the West Falmouth Market. This quaint market has some of the best locally named breakfast and deli sandwiches. Such as The Bourne Farm or the Woods Hole Wrap. Be sure to say hi to the owners Danielle and Tom who have kept the summertime feel of this market all year long. As you head out of West Falmouth, be sure to look and enjoy the smell of summer flowers that bloom on the Cap. Don’t miss the collection of bird habitations along the marshes.
If you are planning an overnight stay in Falmouth, you might want to check out The AutoCamp Cape Cod near Sippewissett, which recently opened in the Fall of 2020. It features tents, airstreams, a clubhouse and complete accessibility to The Shining Sea Bikeway. As you continue your trip along the bike path you will see beautiful bodies of water like Oyster Pond and of course the Atlantic Ocean. Coming up to Palmer Ave gives you another opportunity to enjoy refreshments. Jump off the path and head downtown to Falmouth Center which offers a plethora of restaurants and cute shops. Be sure to visit the historic home of Katherine Lee Bates on Main Street.
If you choose to stay on the path take advantage of Bud’s Stop Pavillon at Station Grill. This is a new self-service fixture that was funded by the Falmouth Bikeways Committee at the Depot Ave parking. All the equipment is stainless steel and attached. So, you can do a quick repair on your bike or replenish air for your tires. Continuing along your 10.7 mile trek, you will come to your final stop at Woods Hole. Here you can visit the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution or the Aquarium of the National Marine and Fisheries. You can even buy a ticket at the Steamship Authority for a ride on the Ferry to Martha’s Vineyard where your next adventure on Cape Cod and the Islands awaits you!
Contact The Cape and The Islands for more information about Shining Sea Bikeway or any other attractions on Cape Cod.