The Longest Biking Trail in Massachusetts

Updated: October 20, 2022
© Pavone
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Exploring the state of Massachusetts on a bike can be one of the greatest experiences you have. There are so many examples of amazing scenery, including the view down Mohawk Trail, the amazing coastline, and lovely fall foliage.

Seeing everything Massachusetts has to offer while riding a bike is a great idea. Massachusetts, after all, is the #1 bike-friendly state in the United States, according to the League of American Bicyclists.

Because of the numerous biking trails in the state of Massachusetts, there are so many options. But which one is the longest? Stay tuned to learn all about the longest biking trail in Massachusetts!

The Longest Biking Trail in Massachusetts

Cape Cod Rail Trail sign
The Cape Cod Rail Trail is the longest biking trail in Massachusetts, running for 27.6 miles.

©Kenneth C. Zirkel / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

The longest biking trail in Massachusetts is the Cape Cod Rail Trail. The trail runs for 27.6 miles and is very bike-friendly. As the name implies, this route follows 19th-century rail lines. From Yarmouth to Orleans, this trail follows the same course as the Cape Cod Central Railroad.

The Cape Cod Rail Trail Route

The Cape Cod Rail Trail starts at an extension that was opened in 2017 in Yarmouth. After this, you will bike through the woods for about 2.5 miles until you get to a bridge over the Bass River.

At this point, you will have a relaxing three miles of riding, where you can take a variety of different breaks, whether you want to detour to another town or trail or just stop for a quick bite. The Cape Cod Rail Trail runs into the Old Colony Rail Trail in Harwich, for example. 

However, if you continue north on the trail, you will see kettle ponds, quiet general stores of small towns, and the Nickerson State Park at the 14-mile mark. At this point, you will be biking for about eight miles through a forest, which will be relatively shady, cool, and refreshing if the weather is hot.

If you keep going, you will get to Nickerson and then the busy tourist town of Orleans. Approximately 3.5 miles later, you will see signage for the Cape Cod National Seashore’s Salt Pond Visitor Center. After this, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to relax at a coastal overlook or public campground.

Planning for a Tour of the Cape Cod Rail Trail

Cape Cod Rail Trail
A tour of the Cape Cod Rail Trail will generally not require extensive planning, as it is not very long and has many options for resting.

©Lisa Parsons/

Because the Cape Cod Rail Trail is not particularly long, planning for a tour of this trail should not be that much of a challenge under normal circumstances. Furthermore, when you are on this trail, you are never very far from a town. Towns have plenty of resources that you can stock up on if necessary.

As with any outdoor excursion, you should check the weather before you embark on your journey. Even though you are going to be biking on asphalt, you probably would rather not be biking during a storm or other inclement weather.

It would also be a good idea for you to be familiar with the attractions that are going to be along the way as you ride. This way, you can make sure that you hit all of the locations that interest you.

Navigating the Route of the Cape Cod Rail Trail

Because the trail is owned and maintained by the state of Massachusetts, you can expect that there will be adequate signage along the length of the path. It is also relatively well-maintained. As such, you generally do not have to worry about unforeseen obstacles that could be associated with neglect of the trail.

Overall, it should be pretty easy to navigate your way along this trail. However, it never hurts to bring a map with you, just in case you happen to get lost. If you only have a digital copy of the map, it would also be a good idea to commit as much of it to memory as possible before you embark on your journey, just in case you lose your cell phone reception.

The Cape Cod Rail Trail Difficulty

Cape Cod Rail Trail
The Cape Cod Rail Trail is considered relatively easy, as it is flat, not particularly long, and well-marked.

©Kenneth C. Zirkel / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

The Cape Cod Rail Trail is considered relatively easy. It’s fairly flat, although you should remember that you will have to cross some busy intersections and go through several tunnels. The trail takes an average of 8.5 hours to complete. There is a bit of a grade, but it is very gentle. The grade is 5% or less throughout the length of the trail.

Additionally, there are well-marked automobile crossings, so you do not have to worry about any dangerous unanticipated traffic.

The trail is not very long compared to others, at only 27.5 miles. It is also paved with asphalt along its entire length. This makes it much easier and more friendly for beginning cyclists than a lot of other trails out there. Generally, you are going to be biking on a smooth surface. You won’t have to deal with mud or gravel that could make your ride more complicated.

Wildlife on the Cape Cod Rail Trail

Massachusetts has an interesting set of ecosystems, making it the home of a lot of interesting wildlife. When you are riding on the Cape Cod Rail Trail, you are likely to see many of these animals off the coast of Massachusetts or in the forests and wetlands of the state.

There are many birds, including the black-capped chickadee and wild turkey. You may also see meadow voles, weasels, otters, muskrats, and white-tailed deer in the forests. If you go close to the water, you might see water birds, such as the piping plover. There are also seals and migratory birds around these waters.

There are some animals in Massachusetts that you need to be wary of as well. These include the timber rattlesnake, eastern copperhead snake, and northern black widow spider. If you go near the water, you might have to watch out for sharks and jellyfish as well.

You might encounter a black bear while you are riding. They are not quite as dangerous as some people have made them out to be. However, you should try to avoid them. They can become aggressive when they perceive a threat.

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