The Trail of Tears (TOT) is one of the most popular riding spots on Cape Cod. Located within the West Barnstable Conservation area, it’s a 21-mile network of twisty rolling singletrack, complete with big ring downhills and short, technical climbs. This network’s best attribute is the variety of terrain one can encounter in any given ride. From loamy singletrack with pine needles and roots to hardpack rock gardens and deep soft sand, there’s something for everyone. Trail management here falls under the jurisdiction of Barnstable’s Conservation Commission and Land Management Committee.
Comprising 1,114 acres, the West Barnstable Conservation Area is Barnstable’s largest dedicated conservation tract. As mentioned, these trails offer various types of terrain: smooth, technical and in between. The forest is a mixture of Red oak, White pine, American holly and Sassafras. Most loops follow the Barnstable powerlines down to the Sandwich town line at Chase Road. Doubletrack fire roads also crisscross the entire parcel, providing even more riding opportunities. Be aware that hunting is allowed here in-season. A Town-operated shooting range is also in close proximity, so random gunfire is not an uncommon sound.
Originally this was a 9-mile enduro motorcycle loop cut back in the 1970s. In the early ’80s, local legends Doug Jordan and Art Hastings tried mountain biking the route with limited success. After one particularly long ride, replete with tears in their eyes and many cuts/bruises, they both christened the area its namesake. Since then, TOT has been greatly improved thanks to Cape Cod NEMBA chapter president Charlie Genatossio and a dedicated group of volunteers. Now the area is a well-maintained network complete with signage, recreational installations and GPS-plotted maps.
At the Service Road entrance, follow the powerlines for about 30 yds until you see a small trail angling off the left (pictured right). This will bring you into the network on the Route 149 side. The trail then forks – the right trail is more smooth and rolling with loam/pine needle singletrack. The left will take you on a much more technical, hardpack route.
Keep in mind that both are very twisty with s-curves and short, steep climbs. From either of these you can go any direction by taking cross-trails and completely different outlets. Have fun, but remember to respect the rights of others – equestrians and hikers frequent TOT often.
Parking & Directions
Three trailhead parking areas provide easy access. The largest is located right after the new Route 149 mini-rotary – go halfway around roundabout (straight) on 149, then make an immediate right on the Service Road. drive 1 block and look for the parking area on your left.
The second one is off Farmersville Road. Take Route 149 south until you reach a small rotary. Exit on Race Lane and drive just under 2 miles. The parking area is in the woods on your right where Race Lane turn into Farmersville Road.
The third area is on Popple Bottom Road, just north of the Olde Barnstable Fairgrounds Golf Course. Take Popple Bottom Road off Route 149 and look for the entrance on your right.