Biking Cape Cod Part 1

The Cape Flyer, a summer weekend train that runs from South Station in Boston to Hyannis on Cape Cod, started running this year. We pounced on the opportunity to travel from Boston to the tip of the Cape car-free. We took the train leaving at 8am and arriving in Hyannis at 10:18am.

Bicycles are permitted in a special bike car at no extra charge. 20 bikes rested on racks in our train car, with space for quite a few more. The ride was smooth and pleasant.

Bike car on Cape Flyer train
Bike car on Cape Flyer train

We got onto Main St, essentially going behind the train station, and headed for a rendezvous with more friends in South Dennis. I had written down directions on a piece of paper. However, I failed to take into account that this is Massachusetts and half the streets lack signs. After guessing at a few turns, we ended up miles off-course. Thankfully, one of our friends had GPS in her phone and, with the help of a friendly passerby, we found our way to the Red Cottage restaurant in South Dennis, near the beginning of the Cape Cod rail trail.

Sand sculpture of whale saying "CARE"
Sand sculpture near Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce

It surprised me how much traffic we encountered, especially on Route 28, which was bumper-to-bumper for miles. After lunch, we rode to the beginning of the trail, joining four friends who had driven down with their bikes on a car rack.

Start of the Cape Cod rail trail

The trail was level and smooth. Quite a few riders passed us in both directions, but the traffic was nothing like the Charles River or Minuteman bike trails. We were grateful for the shade from trees that lined the path, for this was one of the hottest days of the summer.

We arrived at a roundabout and decided to leave the Cape Cod rail trail for the Old Colony rail trail (first exit) to see a lavender farm. We took a left on Pleasant Lake Ave and a left on Weston Woods Road and then a gravel road led us to a lavender shop and a field with lavender, milkweed, and other flowers.

Lavender plants
Lavender plants
Lichen on a tree trunk
Possibly old man’s beard lichen

We decided to use Pleasant Lake Ave to intersect the rail trail further north, which led to a harrowing crossing of the on-ramps to Highway 6.

Biking Pleasant Lake Ave
Biking Pleasant Lake Ave

We continued on the trail until we reached Seymour Pond. Swimming right off the trail!

Stopping at Seymour Pond off the bike trail
Swimming pond right off the trail
A dip in Seymour Pond
A dip in Seymour Pond

With all these stops (including a brief one at Nickerson State Park), we were starting to run short of time, so we kept going until summer’s siren, an ice-cream shop, lured us off the path.

Biking Cape Cod rail trail

We enjoyed ice-cream on the porch of The Sparrow, and then said goodbye to our friends who had driven down. They would return to the beginning of the trail and drive back to Boston.

Sparrow ice-cream store
Sparrow ice-cream store

We carried with us an older version of the Rubel bike map for the Cape. This map showed the trail taking a detour after the ice-cream shop, but that is no longer the case. We continued down the trail. From this point in Orleans north, we encountered fewer riders and more varied scenery. We could now smell the ocean.

Scenery off bike trail

We reached the end of the trail close to 6:00pm. We weren’t hungry yet and so decided to push on to the hostel. We had the option of following a winding “bike route” but chose instead to take a short-cut suggested by Google Maps. Both ways lead to Ocean View Drive, a hilly road with entrances to sandy beaches and spectacular views of the ocean.

White Crest Beach, sand and water
White Crest Beach off Ocean View Drive
Riding Ocean View Drive
Near the ocean, the flora changed to shrubs and wildflowers.

Then our troubles started. We followed Ocean View Drive looking for a road Google called “Granny Treats Way.” No luck. Instead the road dead-ended at a beach. We asked the locals who told us that the roads Google suggested either didn’t exist or were fire/dirt roads.

Google Map
Google Map showing roads that don’t exist.
Old Kings Highway
Old Kings Highway, one of the roads Google suggested – we didn’t risk it.

We backtracked uphill and headed for Wellfleet. At the height of tourist season, we struggled to find an affordable place to eat.

Entering Wellfleet town center
Entering Wellfleet town center
Unlocked bikes
A couple of us followed custom and left their bikes unlocked, but I was too much of a city kid to do so.

Mac’s Seafood to the rescue! We enjoyed our dinner on Wellfleet Pier as the sun set.

Sunset over Wellfleet Pier
Sunset over Wellfleet Pier

We departed Wellfleet around 8:30pm in fading light. Fortunately, we all had lights on our bikes. Not so fortunately, we had a map that wasn’t detailed enough to include local roads and a smartphone whose battery had died hours ago. The “bike route” signs were a life-saver. Even with missing street signs, we were able to tell that we were heading in the right direction.

As darkness fell, the fireflies emerged. We even saw a few bats flying above us. Very few cars passed us. Those that did, did so courteously.

As we passed through protected lands, especially the Herring River Estuary, we found ourselves in the midst of an insect invasion. Beetles hit us in the face. Moths fluttered around our lights. And, when we stopped, we were instantly attacked by so many mosquitoes and black flies that we didn’t know how to begin to protect ourselves.

A very long stretch of Old County Road led us underneath Hwy 6 and onto North Palmet Road. We arrived at the hostel at 9:45pm, just 15 minutes shy of the check-in deadline. Home for the night! Rather than the 40 miles we had counted on from Hyannis to the hostel, we estimated that we covered around 65 miles.

Coming soon: Part 2, the trip to Provincetown.

This entry was posted in Travel and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.