The Beach Times

Yes, Cape Cod Has Mountain Biking, Too
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Tuesday, January 21, 2020


mountain biking on cape cod

Although the paved bike paths on Cape Cod get much of the attention, there is an active mountain bike scene here, too. In fact, those in-the-know report that the Cape is becoming a mountain bikers' mecca thanks to the hundreds of miles of maintained trails found here.

If you're able to bring your mountain bike to your Cape Cod vacation rental, you'll have access to all of these trails, as many are minutes from the downtown sections of the Cape's largest towns.

Here's what you need to know about the best places to mountain bike on Cape Cod.

The Trail of Tears

The best-known mountain biking area on Cape Cod is the Trail of Tears in West Barnstable. The Trail of Tears sits inside a 1,200-acre conservation area on Race Lane that is popular with hikers, runners, cross-country skiers, and, of course, mountain bikers.

There's about 21 miles of track that run through the region and feature a variety of steep and twisted sections. The trail isn't overly technical, but there are some opportunities to catch some air because of the abundance of short climbs.

To get to the park, exit the Mid-Cape Highway on either Prospect Street or Chase Road and follow the street until you reach Race Lane. The parking area for the West Barnstable Conservation Area has a sign along the main road.

Willow Street Trails

The Willow Street riding area in Hyannis and Yarmouth is actually made up of two separate locations. When you ride both of them, however, it creates 35 miles of track that will keep you occupied for hours.

The first area is 20 miles in size and heads through the Hyannis Ponds Wildlife Management Area. Much of this trail is right along Route 6, but you can escape the highway and head into the woods at various points. Getting to this path is as simple as exiting Route 6 at Exit 7 and parking beside the railroad tracks.

The other area in Yarmouth features 15 miles of track off Higgins Crowell Road. You can follow the trail to Little Sandy Pond, which provides a great place to stop for a quick break on your journey. There's a small parking lot on Higgins Crowell Road that you can use while exploring the area.

The Otis Trails

Use caution when riding the Otis in Bourne and Falmouth because there are some restricted areas along the way. There's a very good reason for this, as the trails pass the Otis Air Force Base, and civilians aren't allowed on that land under any circumstances. If you go too far, you run the risk of having military police escort you off the property.

It can be challenging to know where the trails end and the base begins because there aren't any signs or markings. As a general rule, don't cross any paved roads on your ride, and you should be fine.

Although many riders are scared away by the prospect of having to deal with military police, the Otis provides one of the best rides on the Cape because a lot of it heads through the Frances Crane Wildlife Management Area.

Much of the track here is quite fast, with plenty of ups and downs throughout the ride. Some of the hills are quite long, and you'll find some technical sections here, too.

Parking for the Otis Trails is relatively easy to find, as it sits just east of where Route 28 and Route 151 meet. There's a small pullout on the side of Route 151 that provides direct access to the trails and will act as your starting point. Just be careful to avoid the military base, and you'll have a great time on this journey.

Nickerson State Park

Probably the best-known location on this list is Nickerson State Park in Brewster, which is a popular hiking, fishing, swimming, and boating area. The park has over 1,900 acres of forests, ponds, and trails, giving you plenty of places to explore.

One thing to remember about Nickerson State Park is that the trails around Flax Pond, Cliff Pond, and Little Cliff Pond are for hiking only, so you cannot bring your bike there. You can ride around Higgin's Pond and Ruth Pond, however, and there is a good mix of beginner and intermediate paths, as well.

Parking at Nickerson State Park is relatively easy, as there are lots throughout the space that are open to the public. The mountain bike trails also meet up with the Cape Cod Rail Trail, making it possible to ride in and out of the park if you wish.

The Badlands

There are tons of trails at the Badlands in Yarmouth, and if you want to explore them all, you'll have to return for at least a second day.

Most of the trails are relatively easy, as they wind through a conservation area featuring a cranberry bog and some wetlands. The singletracks here are smooth and easy to navigate, with small hills and some gentle ups and downs that provide a leisurely ride. One of the trails even connects to another path that will take you to Maple Swamp, which is about 30 miles away.

This park does have a devious side, however, as the Badland Trail is something a little different. The Badland Trail isn't a natural mountain biking area, but rather a constructed singletrack that winds around and around through an abandoned sandpit.

Many who have ridden this trail say it is unlike anything they've ever experienced before, so if you dare to attempt it, make sure you're ready for a unique ride.

The Badlands sits just off the Mid-Cape Highway with parking available on West Great Western Road, Union Street, and Weir Road. There aren't any designated parking lots, but rather pullouts along the side of the roads that you'll have to find.

Mountain Biking on Cape Cod

This list is just a small taste of some of the better-known mountain biking spots on the Cape, but there is plenty more to explore.

If you're planning a trip to Cape Cod and are interested in learning more about the mountain biking scene, check out the New England Mountain Bike Association's website. There, you'll find trail maps and more information on the best places to ride during your Cape Cod vacation.



Badlands Biking Hyannis Mountain Biking Nickerson State Park Otis Trails Trail Of Tears West Barnstable Yarmouth

Five Fun Things to do with Kids in Brewster
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, March 11, 2019


When traveling with kids, your first inclination is to look for ideas on keeping them occupied and stimulated, both mentally and physically. Luckily, Cape Cod is an all-ages destination with plenty of ways to ensure your children are busy, no matter the season or weather.

The town of Brewster, in particular, is loaded with activities for young kids, teens, and adults alike through its parks, beaches, museums, and entertainment venues. The result is that you'll never run out of things to do.

It doesn’t matter if you’re only on the Cape for a week or plan to spend the better part of your summer here, you can take advantage of everything on this list of the top five activities for children in Brewster.

 

1. Harbor Lights Mini-Golf

Located on Underpass Road, just off Route 6A, Harbor Lights Mini Golf provides an excellent outing for visitors with kids. The venue is open from 10 AM until 10 PM during the summer, so you can head over whenever you have some time to kill, even for dessert, since 11 different flavors of Gifford’s Ice Cream are available.

The course opens on weekends starting in the middle of April and then operates daily from mid-June through Labor Day weekend. A round of golf costs $8 for adults and $7 for kids 12 and under, making Harbor Lights Mini Golf an affordable way to spend a few hours.

As a bonus, Harbor Lights added new greens in 2018, ensuring everything is in great shape for your next round.

 

2. Cape Cod Museum of Natural History 

Just because it's the summer holidays doesn't mean your kids should neglect their education, and the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History makes it easy to learn something new while on the Cape. Here, there are exhibits on archaeology, biomimicry, honey bees, birds, butterflies, salt marshes, the Wampanoag people, and Cape Cod's landscape, so your children will return home knowing much more about this unique part of the country than when they arrived. Admission is $15 for ages 13-64, $10 for seniors, $6 for ages three to 12, and free for those two and under.

Or, if you've booked your Cape Cod summer vacation rental well ahead of time (and you should), you can enroll your kids in one of the museum's KidSummer Day Programs. Each session is five days long and between three and six hours each day, depending on the age of the child.

The classes run between late June and the middle of August, teaching students about the relationships found throughout the natural environment, including their personal roles in the eco-system. Since 400 acres of woods, marshes, beaches, brooks, and dunes surround the museum, your kids will have the chance to get up close and personal with these concepts and relationships.

 

3. Herring Run at the Stony Brook Grist Mill

When visiting the Cape in April or May, you might have the chance to check out one of the world-famous herring runs. The gist is that once temperatures reach the low 50s, herring swim up local streams and rivers, back to the same freshwater bodies where they were born, to spawn the next generation of fish. The exact dates of the migration are never known, since the herring run is weather dependent, but if you're lucky enough to be on Cape Cod when it's taking place, the herring run is something you must experience.

In Brewster, the best place to check out the herring run is the Stony Brook Grist Mill and Museum, which is in the west part of town on Stony Brook Road. The old mill is still in service and is home to an alewife migration every year. The venue features fish ladders and plenty of places to catch the action. Your kids will also marvel at the thousands of seagulls that flock to the area in search of an easy meal.

 

4. Nickerson State Park

With 19 acres of wilderness, eight freshwater ponds, an eight-mile bike trail, beaches, swimming, basketball courts, a playground, and horseback riding, Nickerson State Park has enough activities that you could spend an entire week there without running out of things to do. The park is just outside of downtown Brewster and even provides easy access to the Cape Cod Rail Trail, should you want to bike, jog, or walk a little further.

While at the park, your kids can swim at Flax Pond and Big Cliff Pond, as they both have small beaches. Sometimes, Jack's Boat Rental has stand-up paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks for rent at Flax Pond, while you can arrange other boat rentals at Big Cliff Pond. If you don't see any rentals available, Jack's storefront is only about 20 minutes away in Wellfleet and will deliver on rentals of three or more days. Parking at Nickerson State Park is $8 for Massachusetts residents and $15 for non-residents per day.

 

5. Brewster Sand Flats and Bay Beaches

Of course, you could always spend your days with your kids lounging on Brewster's beautiful oceanfront beaches. Brewster has some of the country's most impressive tidal sand flats, and when the tide is out, you can walk a long way out to explore. Your kids will also enjoy the warm, calm water because it makes for a relaxing beach experience.

Breakwater Beach and Crosby Landing Beach are perhaps the best locations to visit with children because the sand is close to the parking lot and there's enough room to find a space of your own. The sand flats also create warm pools of water everywhere. Paines Creek is excellent for younger kids who want to build sandcastles or play with their buckets, while Robbins Hill is a little rockier and, therefore, more so for families with teenagers.

Brewster town beaches require stickers for parking, and they cost $20 per day, $60 for a week, and $150 for the entire season for non-residents. Also, remember that none of the town's beaches on Cape Cod Bay have lifeguards.

 

Keeping Your Kids Busy

Brewster is a paradise when traveling with children because the beaches and water are so family-friendly, and there are other ventures away from the ocean, as well.

Nowhere else on the Cape has such a diverse selection of activities for your young ones, so be sure to make Brewster one of your stops on your next Cape Cod vacation.



Breakwater Beach Brewster Brewster Brewster Beaches Kids Mini Golf Nickerson State Park

The Best Places to Kayak on Cape Cod
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Tuesday, September 4, 2018


Kayaking on Cape Cod

Cape Cod has some of the best kayaking opportunities found anywhere in North America, mainly due to the diversity of its water bodies.

For some, there is nothing better than a day on the ocean in a kayak, as you can quietly maneuver along the shoreline and access beaches, islands and areas that you can’t get to any other way. You might also have the chance to see some wildlife without a noisy motor scaring it away.

For others, kayaking through a still pond or lake is the way to go, since you are protected from rough water and weather, and can quickly get to shore for a break when needed. You are also never far from your vehicle, so returning after a day spent on the water is much more manageable.

Or, you might look for a river or stream to navigate in your kayak, which can provide access to both the ocean and some ponds, depending on the route you take.

As you can see, the Cape has everything you could ever want from a kayaking destination and if you aspire to get out on the water this vacation, make sure you bring your boat. Alternatively, there are kayak rental locations found throughout Cape Cod, if needed.

 

Nickerson State Park

At Nickerson State Park, you'll have so many choices on where you kayak that it can be overwhelming. The park as a whole is 1,900 acres in size and features numerous ponds, including Cliff, Flax, Little Cliff, Higgins, and Eel, and all of them have direct road access. These roads make it easy to reach your desired pond or travel through the park until you find one that isn't overly busy.

One of the great things about Nickerson State Park is that most of the ponds are close enough to each other that you can portage between them if your boat is light enough. That way, you can explore multiple kettle ponds throughout the day without having to load your kayak back onto your car. The larger bodies have beaches to check out, as well, so you can include a swim in with your excursion.

 

Nauset Marsh

People around Cape Cod say that Nauset Marsh is perhaps the best place for beginners to get out on the water. This saltwater marsh is one of the most fertile in the world, which means it is full of wildlife, including seals, otters, and birds, to see while you paddle through its streams. In addition to the small streams running through the marsh, there are tidal creeks and more open bodies of water, like Salt Pond Bay. This diversity means you can explore various eco-systems throughout the day

Those with more kayaking experience can start their journey in the wetlands before paddling into the Atlantic at Coast Guard Beach. Make sure you keep track of where you entered the ocean, however, as it can be easy to get lost.

Overall, Nauset Marsh is a spectacular place to take your boat because the scenery is outstanding and you can go in so many different directions once you’re out there. Most kayakers enter the marsh at Town Cove in Eastham, just off Route 6.

 

Bass River

At five miles long, Bass River is Cape Cod's largest river, and it sits conveniently between Yarmouth and Dennis. You can enter the river from either town or the boat launch at Smugglers Beach on Nantucket Sound. Once in the river, you'll find some areas quiet and others livelier. There are powerboats on the river, but they are speed restricted, limiting the wake created and allowing for a smoother journey for those using kayaks or paddle boards.

The river has numerous coves and inlets you can explore, and you'll also find a couple of marinas where you can stop for lunch. The marinas can also rent you a kayak or paddle board. If you head far enough north, you'll eventually get to Kelleys Bay, Dinahs Pond, or Follins Pond, as well, which provide a quiet place to explore. Note, however, that the speed restrictions are not in place on Follins Pond.

 

Eel Pond Landing

For something a little different, start your journey at Eel Pond in East Falmouth. One thing you'll notice about Cape Cod is that there are numerous ponds with the same name, so if you're looking on a map, make sure you find the Eel Pond in East Falmouth and not the one in Woods Hole, Bourne, or Brewster, although these other ponds are also accessible via kayak.

The Eel Pond in East Falmouth starts on Nantucket Sound right by Washburn Island, which is a stunning wildlife reserve. Heading north, you can turn right and take the Seapit River into Waquoit Bay or go left and travel up the Childs River to Waquoit Village. Either way, you'll have a quiet ride and will almost certainly see some animals along your journey.

You might have to start your trip at the Waquoit Bay Kayak Launch in Mashpee or Bosun’s East Falmouth Marina, since it can be challenging to find an access point or parking along Eel Pond.

 

Wequaquet Lake

Wequaquet Lake in Barnstable is another place worth visiting with your kayaks, but keep in mind that parking can be difficult to find. There is a boat launch at the north end of the lake where you can get your boat in the water, but only a dozen or so parking spots.

If you're lucky enough to score a space, the lake is massive and, therefore, it's easy to find a peaceful area to paddle by yourself. There are also some uninhabited islands that you can visit if you want a break from your boat. This lake is in the middle of a large residential area and, therefore, is a favorite of locals. If you’re interested in checking it out, it’s a good idea to look for a vacation rental nearby to make it easier to access.

 

Kayaking On Cape Cod

There’s no way you’ll get to all of the Cape’s kayaking routes on your vacation here because you can pretty much put your boat in the water anywhere and you’ll find it to be kayak friendly. Just make sure you stay away from rougher areas of the ocean unless you’re an experienced paddler and are confident with your navigation skills.

Likewise, you can always take a kayaking tour, as numerous companies will supply a guide and ensure you’re on a scenic route all day long. Kayak rentals are also available if you’re not able to bring your own, so don’t let the fact that you’re flying in from another part of the country stop you from enjoying the natural beauty that is best enjoyed from the quiet water passageways on Cape Cod.

When looking to rent a kayak, it's a good idea to call ahead at the beginning of your trip. That way, you'll be aware of rental rates and availability before arriving at the office.

Whether you're into kayak tours or will be bringing your own kayaks on your vacation, you're sure to find something that suits your needs on the Cape this summer.

 



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