We headed out to the Massachusetts coast for a visit with Bruce's branch of the family and made our first bike ride on a family favorite: The Cape Cod Rail Trail.
Cape Cod Rail Trail map
Although the trail was busy with hikers, bikers, rollerbladers and someone on a contraption that looked like an elliptical machine on wheels, the trail was much less crowded than the horrid Mass. Turnpike and Rte. 25 we had to suffer through on our way out here from Charlemont the day before. We started out at the trailhead at mile 0 in Dennis and journeyed past iconic New England cranberry bogs, kettle ponds, and salt marshes.
We unknowingly rode when the tide was reaching its low point, so we could smell the salt marshes long before we rode past them. Out in the dairy farm-rich area of the western part of the state, cyclists call the distinctive odor "Eau de Poo". I think out here I will call it "Salt Marsh Musk."
The grasses of the salt marsh extend to Cape Cod Bay in the far background. (You can thank me later that this is not smell-vision.)
From Dennis, we rode east and north to Harwich and then on to Brewster, which is the location of Ocean's Edge, where we were married six years ago. We stopped at Nickerson State Park to inquire about the process for using their RV dumping station for our new home on wheels and to buy raffle tickets for a kayak that we've wanted for as many years. The kids working in the ranger station looked like they needed a little humor, so I joked that I was buying three tickets because my husband told me that if he wins, he's going to give the kayak to me, and if I win, the kayak is mine. That seems like a good deal, right? They laughed.
Kayak for raffle
We headed north from Nickerson to the border with Orleans, where we turned around because that part of the trail goes on roads for a bit. Besides, we didn't think it was very wise to attempt negotiating Cape Cod road traffic on a Saturday afternoon on our bikes.
Nickerson State Park
The weather was overcast but remarkably not very humid or hot, so the ride back was easy and almost refreshing due to the slight breeze. We stopped along the way to look at a couple of the kettle ponds formed thousands of years ago by the glaciers that helped form New England. The ponds are one of the many natural treasures of Cape Cod, and appear in all sizes all over this part of the state.
Bruce searching for the glacier that formed this pond
The Cape Cod Rail Trail has been around for a long time, so it has a few pock marks and potholes that make travel a bit more, let's say, interesting. Some kind people outlined many of the more treacherous bumps in bright paint to warn riders of the uneven surfaces, but some spots have not been identified yet and can pose a slight risk to riders. There are also several road crossings that inhibit gaining momentum, but at least the crossings are well-marked for both drivers and cyclists. For the most part, though, the trail is pure joy where it is free of potholes and road crossings.
Bruce on the beautiful Cape Cod Rail Trail
I rate this trail with 3.5 out of 4 bikes because of the uneven surfaces in areas. Otherwise, it gets a full score for everything else!
Easy access to trailheads: 1.0
Trail signage: 1.0
Interesting scenery: 1.0
Trail condition: 0.5