The Shining Sea Bikeway (SSB) was named for a line in the song America The Beautiful, written by Falmouth native Katharine Lee Bates. It follows the original route of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad that used to run from Buzzards Bay, through North and West Falmouth, around Woods Hole and into Falmouth Station. In the early 1970’s the Town of Falmouth purchased the right of way, tore up the tracks and officially opened the 3.3-mile Shining Sea Bikeway in 1975.
In 2009, a new 7.4-mile section was added, extending the trail to North Falmouth. This addition was built with a $3.2 million federal grant. Now the SSB runs 10.7 miles from County Road in North Falmouth all the way to the Steamship Authority parking lot in Woods Hole.
The Shining Sea Bikeway hugs the coast from Falmouth to Woods Hole and then beyond to North Falmouth, winding along the Vineyard Sound shoreline. Ideal for casual and beginner cyclists, it was built on a former railroad right-of-way. The paved path is level for nearly its entire 10.7-mile distance with only a slight grade in certain spots.
Lined with familiar Cape Cod flower and tree species, it makes for a wonderful ride from Falmouth to scenic Woods Hole. Following the Old Colony rail line, the newer extension passes through Sippewissett Marsh, by cranberry bogs and overlooks Chapaquoit Beach. The entire route avoids much of Falmouth’s notorious summer traffic by winding along the coastline and crisscrossing the Salt Pond Bird Sanctuary.
This is a frequently used area in-season, so be sure to respect the rights of others, especially inline skaters and runners.
Parking & Directions
To reach the Shining Sea Bikeway, take Route 24 south to 1-495 south to the Bourne Bridge. From points north, take Route 3 south to the Sagamore Bridge rotary. Follow the signs to Buzzards Bay/Falmouth, then cross over the Bourne Bridge. From Bourne Bridge: travel Rt. 28 south to Falmouth. Fork right onto Locust Road Entry to the bikeway parking area is a mile down on the right just past Pin Oak Way. The newer North Falmouth parking area is located on the corner of County Road and Route 151.