We previously covered our favorite biking and running trails in Falmouth and Mashpee, so we’re turning our attention to the other towns in our coverage area, Bourne and Sandwich. Two of Cape Cod’s “gateway” towns, Bourne and Sandwich have a great diversity of terrain – paved and maintained paths along the canal and rugged trail running through state parks and nature preserves. Some of these trails, like the canal, are more popular than the Falmouth or Mashpee trails, but on other hidden trails you might find some awesome terrain to yourself.
Cape Cod Canal Bikeway – Perhaps the most popular (and most used) trail on Cape Cod, the Canal Bikeway is actually more of a mini-road than a trail just based on the traffic it carries year round. In fact, on maps, its official name is the Canal Service Road. Officially, the bikeway is on the Cape side of the bridge, but it is mirrored for much of its length by an equivalent bikeway on the mainland side. Stretching for 7.5 miles between the Bourne and Sagamore bridges, the bikeway is largely straight and perfect for a speed workout if training for a marathon or an easy training ride for bicyclists. On the mainland side, the trail stretches from the Scussett Beach reservation in Bourne to the railroad lift bridge in Buzzards Bay. Parking lots are available at the Cape Cod Canal Visitors Center off Coast Guard road in Bourne, a small lot near the Bourne Bridge. On the mainland side, park in Scussett beach, at many of the small lots along Route 6 and the large lot at Buzzards Bay park near the Railroad Bridge (off Main Street in Buzzards Bay).
Crane Wildlife Management Area / Otis – Of all the trails or paths we’ll profile, this trail system is easily the most challenging to traverse and navigate. If you can manage to keep your bearings and stay out of the heart of the woods and off the military base, you’ll be rewarded with great riding, scenery and more wildlife than you’ll see anywhere else on Cape Cod. Oddly enough, to bike in the Bourne section you’ll have to enter in Falmouth along Route 151. Crane spans 1800 acres, so you’ll be able to come back again and again and never cross the same two areas. The eastern end of Crane is the easier section , with some wide sandy trails and some challenging technical paths and single track portions. The west end is much more challenging. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the helpful maps provided by NEMBA and consider joining them for a ride if it’s your first time out on the land. Parking is everywhere along Route 151, and keep your eyes open for spots near the old Nickelodeon theatre and neighboring softball field. Sundays are normally the best days to ride October-June; all other days are open season for hunting.
Little Bay/Monk’s Park – Hidden off Clay Pond Road, this a great spot for mountain bikers, not so much for joggers or hikers. In total, it’s about a 10 mile loop of largely flat to moderately hilly terrain around a pond with spurs out to Little Bay. Be careful on these, as high tide can come rushing in fast. Beautiful scenery gives ample opportunities for photos and scenic rest stops. Parking is located in several areas off Valley Bars road and Shore Road.
Ryder Conservation Lands – One of the most picturesque patches of preserved land on Cape Cod, Ryder has a bit of everything for outdoor enthusiasts. Five miles of walking/hiking/jogging trails criss-cross the 243 acres of the reservation, with a significant portion along Wakeby pond. Resident stickers grant access to a lifeguarded beach. Run through woods, cranberry bogs and pondscapes from May to October, with a moderate variation in terrain from flat to steep. If you have a canoe, bring it and take advantage of the boat ramp. Look for a network of small parking lots along Cotuit and South Sandwich Roads.
Murkwood Conservation Area – Located across from the East Sandwich Fire Station, Murkwood is a beautiful 79 acre piece of former farmland on a peninsula jutting out into Cape Cod Bay. Filled with wildlife and marshland, Murkwood has several miles of largely flat trails with some beachfront running along its outer paths. Like most other areas in Sandwich, you also pass through bogs and some dense woodlands. Run here at sunset to be treated to some of the finest sunsets Cape Cod has to offer. Six spots are available for use at the East Sandwich Fire Station; we’d suggest moving to East Sandwich to be closer to the action, but then again, we’re biased!
Sandy Neck Beach – The first beach run we’ve recommended! Stop by early in the morning and at low tide to be a the beachgoers and 4x4s to the beach (and to parking spots), and treat yourself to one of the most breathtaking beach runs on Cape Cod. Beach, sand dunes, beach grass and beach forest are all here – plot your route to pass through as many different types of terrain as possible. A small trail network connects Sandy Neck to Great Marsh and Barnstable Harbor. In season, check the Town of Barnstable (Sandy Neck is on the Sandwich/Barnstable town line) for gate house hours. Don’t forget about the woodland trails and other areas of the state park!