The Shining Sea Bikeway is a cycle path on Upper Cape Cod. The bikeway runs from the fishing village of Woods Hole to the village of North Falmouth for a little over 10 miles following the path of now-defunct rail trail. It’s an easy and scenic bike path which my 8 year old son was able to cycle easily. People cycle, run and walk along the path.
The path is named after Katherine Lee Bates, Falmouth’s most famous 19th century resident who wrote the song America the Beautiful, one of the most popular patriotic songs in the USA.
In fact, at various times in history, people have lobbied to replace the Star Spangled Banner with American the Beautiful as the national anthem. Proponents of Bates’ song think its easier to sing and less war-mongering than The Star Spangled Banner. The name for the bike path comes from a line in the song.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties,
Above the fruited plain!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
The trail goes through woods, beaches, farms, ponds, salt marshes, cranberry bogs and the village of Falmouth. This map shows the complete trail for the Shining Sea Bikeway. There is lots of wildlife along the way – mostly birds or the occasional foxes, wild turkey or deer.
The village of Falmouth is a slight detour of the bike path but well worth a pit stop. It’s a charming New England town with the usual church steeples, boutiques and restaurants.
The 8 Cousins bookshop has a terrific children’s section. It’s unusual that its primarily a children’s book store and the adult section is just a companion to the children’s books. Ben & Bills Chocolate Emporium has giant ice-cream cones. A child size portion is actually close to a normal-size cone in another venue.
The well-kept colonial house which was the birthplace of Katherine Lee Bates is prominently marked.
In the summer you may find a farmer’s market in a park off Main Street.
I would definitely recommend this bike path as a nice family activity to do in Upper Cape Cod. You pass through a snapshot of what makes Cape Cod really special and quintessential New England. Have you been to Cape Cod? What did you think?