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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nantucket & Martha's Vineyard Bike Trails

Off the main roads, safe and beautiful bike trails on the Islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard

Fall color is reaching its peak here on Cape Cod and the weather has been great. Some recent guests at our historic bed and breakfast raved about their bike excursion on Martha’s Vineyard. I have written a few blogs about our favorite bike paths on Cape Cod, but my guest’s enthusiasm reminds me that the travel industry advertises us as the ‘Cape and Islands’. So to be fair and balanced, I need to also cover biking on the islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. I also should not digress too much into the discussion that, in fact, Cape Cod is also an island since it was separated from the main land by the building of the Cape Cod Canal in the late 1800s.

Many of our guests want to see one or both of our famous sister islands. Jan has blogged about the ease of day tripping to them in previous blogs and the many sites to see, so I’ll just focus on the biking opportunities. From our Inn in Sandwich, the docks for the ships to these islands are about 20 miles away. To Nantucket you sail from Hyannis and to Martha’s Vineyard you sail from Woods Hole. The Massachusetts’ Steamship Authority which charges a small additional fee for taking your own bikes with, services both islands: Nantucket is $7.00 and Martha’s Vineyard is $4.00.

Of the two islands, Nantucket is the smallest and the most biking friendly. The main part of the island is only about 10 miles long by about 3 miles wide and has an extensive network of paved bike paths that allows you to see up close the natural beauty.
 
photo of Nantucket Bike Trail map
Nantucket Bike Trails
The well-marked trails lead from Nantucket Village to beaches on all sides of the Island. In the village you need to watch the cobblestones, they are historic but very hard to ride on. The trials are of varying length from 3 to 4 miles one-way to over 10 miles one-way. All are mostly flat with great scenery along the way and upon arrival you are at beautiful beaches on either the Atlantic Ocean or the Nantucket Sound. If you need to rent bikes, I recommend Young’s Bike Shop right on the wharf where the ship docks. This year while we were there, Jan got a Nantucket Bike Basket Co. woven basket for her bike complete with the official brass nameplate from Young’s store. It is a great source for all the info you will need to enjoy a great day of biking on Nantucket Island. Young’s is a landmark open since 1931 and worth a visit even if you don’t need to rent bikes. I am sure they will have something you need or will want for your ride.

map of Martha's Vineyard Bike Trails
Martha's Vineyard Bike Trails
Martha’s Vineyard is another must see for our guests. It is almost three times larger than Nantucket, being about 22 miles long and over 10 miles wide, but is closer to the Cape. It is only about a 30 minute boat ride verses the hour on the fast ferry to Nantucket or two hours on the slow ferry, officially they call it the Traditional ferry but believe me it is a slow ride. So a plus is you get there quicker and it is great place to bike, especially if you are a more ambitious rider.

Again, you take the Steamship Authority to either Vineyard Haven or Oak Bluffs. The Vineyard has seven separate villages including the two ports. Paved bike paths run parallel to most of the major roads, but it can be a long hall from one village to the next. Our favorite place is Edgartown and before we started inn keeping we annually stayed at B&Bs in Edgartown. I was younger then, but in fact may not have been in as good of shape, but I found out how far it is form Edgartown to Oak Bluff the hard way. We rented bikes in Edgartown and rode the  six plus miles to Oak Bluff along the breath taking Beach Road which is the famous beach from at least two of the JAWS movies. I could not make the return ride and happily learned that all the public buses on the Vineyard are equipped with bike racks for wimps like me. The very efficient bus system is a most convenient way to cover the whole Island, jumping off with your bike to ride to a specific beach or village, then back on the bus for the longer trip back to the boat. Also, a short ferry ride takes you from the Edgartown dock to Chappaquiddick where you can ride to Wasque Beach on the Atlantic Ocean and visit the unique and beautiful Japanese gardens in the Mytoi preserve. Martha’s Vineyards Information has good information about the bike paths and rental options.     

The fall season is here, the crowds are gone, and the biking is still great on the Cape and Islands. Come stay with us at our Cape Cod bed and breakfast and we’ll help you get to Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard for a very memorable experience.

Happy Trails

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper's Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Cape Cod Bike Trails: Outer Cape

Off the main roads, safe and beautiful bike trails in Outer Cape Cod.

A lot of visitors to Cape Cod, including guest at our bed and breakfast, are interested in varying degrees of cycling. From the hard core to the easy riders, the Cape has biking trails for all. In previous blogs, I described some of our favorite bike-ways on the Upper-Cape and Mid-Cape, and now I’ll finish off the rest of our island. From Sandwich on the Upper Cape to Provincetown at the very tip of the Outer-Cape it is sixty-five miles, which I do not recommend anyone try to bike. I know a lot hardy souls do it, but that is not our typical guest. But, I do recommend all our guests see Provincetown. If you also want to bike, you have some great options on the Outer-Cape and along the way.

On the way to P-town, on scenic Route 6A in Brewster you pass Nickerson State Park, a very popular summer campgrounds on 1900 rustic acres. Jan and I love to stay in state parks when we travel in our motor home during the winter months. This Massachusetts state park has 400 tent campsites set in great natural scenery with abundant wildlife. It offers campers hiking, biking, fresh water ponds for swimming, fishing, and access to the beaches on the Cape Cod Bay. The 8 miles of dedicated bike paths are open to non-campers and are connected to the longer Cape Cod Rail Trail. Two specific parking lots with direct access to the paths are conveniently located off 6A. Bike rentals are also available in the Park. It is a very doable ride that takes you up close to nature in this unique preserved coastal woodland. Parts of the ride can be a little hilly, but it is well worth the effort.
 

A little further down the road, or is it down Cape or up Cape, is what many think is a must see even if you are not biking, the Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNS). The CCNS is over 43,000 acres of ponds, woods, dunes, and beaches run by the National Park Services. It has over 40 miles of Atlantic facing beaches, considered to be the best on Cape Cod and by far some of the best surfing in the Northeast.

I could go on and on, but for this blog the important thing is the bike paths. The Nauset Marsh Trail starts at the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham and runs 1.6 miles through this breathtaking landscape to Coast Guard Beach. It a short ride that you may never forget. If you have your own bikes it is easy to park and do the ride, if you need to rent bikes you may want to continue up to P-town. There is an entrance fee to all National Parks and we recommend that if you are over 62 you investigate an America the Beautiful Senior Pass. A few years back Jan and I discovered the pass while staying in Ocala National Forest in Florida. It saved us 50% a night on RV camping fees. It paid for itself in the first few nights. See, there are some advantages to getting older.

The last bike path is the Province Lands Trail at the tip of the Cape which is still in the Cape Cod National Seashore. This hilly 5+ mile loop starts at the Province Lands Visitor Center and winds through the dunes system and the unique Beech Forest. Side spurs take you to Herring Cove Beach, Bennett Pond, and Race Point Beach. Even if our guests are not bikers, I suggest they stop at the visitor center and take in the observation deck on top of the building. Jan and I never miss stopping when we make it that far from home, the views are unbelievable. Literally, you can see for miles and miles, some of the most beautiful views in the world.

Photo of sun setting on Race Point Beach in Provincetown, MA
Sunset at Race Point Beach
If you have your own bikes, you just unload and ride. If you need bikes, plenty of options are available a mile or so away on Commercial Street in P-town. A good resource for more info about these trails and bike rental, etc., is the Cape Cod Bike Guide web site. As you plan your biking adventure, stay with us at our Cape Cod bed and breakfast and we’ll tell you about all the other things you need to see in Provincetown

Happy Trails

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper's Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts