The Beach Times

Cross-Country Skiing on Your Cape Cod Vacation
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Sunday, January 17, 2021

It goes without saying that the Cape isn't known as a ski destination. After all, the nearest downhill circuits in Canton, MA, and Exeter, RI, are nothing to write home about, and if you want to hit a high-end resort, you'll have to travel to New Hampshire or Vermont.

However, Cape Cod does have numerous locations to do some cross-country skiing, as many of the hiking trails and bike paths end up covered in snow in the winter.

These trails ensure that you can explore the same great parks that you'd see in the summer during your off-season Cape Cod vacation.

Here's a look at the best places to ski on the Cape once the snow flies this winter.

Beebe Woods

Beebe Woods is a popular hiking area in the summer because it features about 383 acres of land on the former estate of James Madison Beebe. There's lots of room to explore, and you can walk for hours once you head into the woods.

The trails become less busy after the snow falls, creating the ideal circumstances for some cross-country skiing. Many of the park's trails go through dense forests, and there are a couple of ponds you can ski around, too.

Getting to Beebe Woods is as simple as turning off North Main Street onto Depot Avenue in downtown Falmouth. Depot Avenue turns into Highfield Drive and leads to the Highfield Hall & Gardens. You can park at the hall while you visit the woods.

Nickerson State Park

Another popular summertime destination that converts to a cross-country ski area in the winter is Nickerson State Park in Brewster. This park has all kinds of space to explore, as you can get on the trails with your skis and go through the woods all day. The great thing about Nickerson State Park is that it has some hills, allowing you to do some climbs and descents along the way.

The park also has eight freshwater ponds that you can check out, and you can even do some winter fishing if you can carry your gear on your journey. There's plenty of parking throughout Nickerson State Park, so you can start your trip wherever you wish or explore the different ponds without having to ski the entire time.

Bourne Recreation Area

The Bourne Recreation Area isn't a typical wooded ski trail. Instead, this park is along the Cape Cod Canal's shores, starting at the Bourne Bridge. This location allows you to experience urban cross-country skiing, which not many destinations can offer.

Once you arrive in the parking lot, which is just off Sandwich Road, you can head in either direction on a service road running parallel to the Canal. Skiing southwest, you can reach the Cape Cod Canal Railroad Bridge. Traveling northeast, you can get to the Sandwich Marina.

The journey through the Bourne Recreation Area is incredibly unique and something you might want to check out if you're visiting the Cape in the winter.

Cape Cod National Seashore Service Roads

Another unique place to ski is on the service roads you'll find near the Cape Cod National Seashore. These roads end up snow-covered in the winter and lead to scenic views over the Atlantic Ocean.

Collins Road, in the Wellfleet area, features numerous trails and service roads that conclude on the cliffs overlooking the Seashore's beaches. All you'll have to do is drive along Collins Road and look for paths heading out in that direction. From there, it's a relatively short distance to one of the nation's most unique landscapes.

Hawksnest State Park

In Harwich, Hawksnest State Park is a great place to explore with your cross-country skis because it's full of heavily wooded areas and has a couple of ponds you can visit, too.

A word of caution: the dirt roads leading into this park are full of potholes and aren't well maintained. If you have a rental car or are driving a vehicle without four-wheel drive and snow tires, it's best to start your skiing journey on Spruce Road or Round Cove Road, rather than trying to drive right into the park. These roads are challenging to navigate in the best of conditions, and it's easy to get stuck when there's snow on the ground.

The good news is that adding this extra bit of skiing onto your travels allows you to explore more of the woods and provides lovely scenery along the way.

Renting Skis on Cape Cod

Traveling with your skis isn't always easy, especially if you're flying to a nearby area and renting a vehicle to complete your trek to the Cape. Luckily, two retailers in Hyannis rent out cross-country skis, allowing you to experience these trails without much hassle.

First, there's Puritan Cape Cod. This shop has four locations on the Cape, but only the Hyannis store has ski supplies. Skis are $30 per day or $50 for the weekend and include boots and poles, as well. This shop is on the town's Main Street directly across from the John F. Kennedy Museum.

The other rental shop is Eastern Mountain Sports, which sits on Iyannough Road, a short distance northwest of the Cape Cod Mall.

Both of these stores will have everything you need to hit up some of these cross-country skiing areas on the Cape. Renting skis makes it easier than ever before to make the most of your winter excursion on Cape Cod.


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