The Traveling Tulls cycle with a group of older adults every Sunday morning. It’s a wonderful way to get some exercise, enjoy the outside, and engage with some wonderful people. Our weekly bike rides are usually in quiet towns on the South Shore of Massachusetts, but we do regional rides once a month. This has allowed us to cycle some of the best bike trails in Cape Cod, Eastern Massachusetts, and Rhode Island! Safe, and scenic, bike routes perfect for older adults!
Massachusetts has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, but a lot of this scenery is not easily accessed by bike. The roads in Boston and the suburbs are narrow and winding, with few designated bike lanes. For visitors to Massachusetts, especially older adults, we recommend not cycling the main roads, but staying on the paved bike trails. There are some excellent bike trails in Massachusetts. Most of these are former rail trails leading to old New England towns and offering many interesting views of the area. These are our recommendations for the best bike rides in Southeast Massachusetts and the Cape Cod area.
Best Bike Trails of Southeast Massachusetts: Cape Cod, and Rhode Island
Cape Cod Canal Bikeway – a flat bike path accessible from both sides of the Cape Cod bridges
Total Length: 7 Miles
Parking and access: there are multiple spots for parking on both sides of the canal. You can find pull outs along route 6 on the Sagamore side of the canal or head to the Buzzards Bay recreation area for a large parking area, restrooms, and a playground for the little ones. From the Cape side, park at the Sandwich Marina or in the smaller parking area at Tidal Flat recreation area.
Falmouth Shining Sea Trail, from woodland to ocean.
Total Length: 10.7 miles
This is another favorite for its scenery and ultimate destination – Woods Hole. This village is where the famous Woods Hole oceanographic institute is located, and where ferries depart for Martha’s Vineyard. The trail runs through salt marshes, cranberry bogs, and wooded areas, with occasional ocean views. This is a lovely bike path for birdwatchers, who will be tempted to stop often to see the shore birds along the way.
Cape Cod Rail Trail, a Cape classic bike ride
Total length: 22 miles
East Bay Bike Path in Rhode Island
Total Length: 14.5 miles
A regional favorite, for bikers and walkers is the East Bay Bike Path in Rhode Island. This is a great bike ride- 14.5 miles of well maintained pavement leading you through several state parks, along the Narragansett Bay coast and into charming towns. Coming from Massachusetts, we usually pick up the bike path on the East Providence end and bike towards Bristol where there are some great spots for lunch on the water.
Parking and access: Parking lots can be found off of Veterans Memorial Parkway in Riverside, RI, and at many other points along the route. For parking information visit the Bike Rhode Island website.
South Coast Bikeway
Not yet complete, the South Coast Bike trail hopes to provide 50 miles of continuous bike trails between Rhode Island and Cape Cod. The planned route links cycling paths together through some of Massachusetts most beautiful towns.
At this time, cyclists can enjoy the completed Phoenix bike trail – 4.5 miles of paved paths running through Fairhaven and connecting with the Mattapoisett Rail trail. Explore side streets along this route to see some of Buzzards Bay’s prettiest spots.
Upper Charles Trail
Total length -~13 miles
At this time, the Upper Charles trail consists of some well paved bikeways and some more primitive gravel trails. Well worth the visit as you’ll bike through lovely woods and some of south central Massachusetts’ most historic towns.
Begin at either end: Hopkinton (Rt. 495 to exit 20, north on Rt 85 1.5 miles) or Whitney Street/Front Street in Holliston.
This trail is shaped like a V. The apex of the V is in Fino field in Milford. This is a great place to park and enjoy just one branch of the trail.
Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard – New England cyclist’s dream destinations
More great bike trails for visitors to Boston
Charles River Bike Paths
Total Length: about 18 miles
The Minuteman Bikeway, a historic bike ride
Total Length: 10.13 miles
Sign up for a cycling tour of Boston’s Emerald Necklace – a 4 hour guided bike tour of the parks surrounding the city center.
Our favorite small town bike rides on the South Shore of Massachusetts
Though we encourage visitors to use designated bike paths when they can, there are some lovely, and safe, roads that we cycle regularly.
Duxbury to Marshfield
Total length: 9 miles (or so…)
Duxbury was established in 16 as the Pilgrims’ summer colony. History abounds in this charming small town. We suggest you begin your day by stopping by the Chestnut Street cemetery where John and Priscilla Alden, Myles Standish, and many others of the original Pilgrims are buried.
Then find a parking spot at the shopping areas in Halls Corner (at the flagpole) and begin your ride. Cycle down Washington Stree, over the tiny Blue Fish River bridge (where you might see kids jumping into the river on a warm day!) Continue to follow the water, bearing right on King Caesar Road, and following that to the Powder Point Bridge. Cross this wooden bridge to the barrier island of Duxbury Beach. Turn left through the parking lot and follow the road to Green Harbor in Marshfield. There’s a great spot for lobster rolls at …
You can turn around here, or continue following the ocean to Brant Rock, another pretty seaside neighborhood in Marshfield.
Return on the same route, stopping at French Memories in Duxbury for pastries, or waiting until you’re back at Halls Corner for a stop at Scoops Ice Cream!
Plymouth Waterfront, short and sweet!
Plymouth is gearing up for its big 400 year celebration in 2020 and has been improving cycling opportunities in town. Water Street now has a designated bike lane on both sides which you can follow along the harbor and down to the 1 mile Nelson Park bike path. Lovely views, and lots of opportunities for delicious seafood, make this short ride a fun afternoon.
Note: Nelson Park is a wonderful spot for families with young children. There’s a playground, a splash pad, and a small beach as well as access to the bike path.
Myles Standish State Forest, for a more challenging ride
Total length: up to you!
The state forest in Plymouth, Carver, and Middleborough has miles of trails and roads for biking. You can bike to one of the many ponds where swimming and picnicking are encouraged. This area has more hills than on most coastal bike paths, so be prepared to get a workout!
Note that the bike trails are often rough, and are used also by walkers and horses. We prefer to stay on the wide roads
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Hope this gives you some good ideas for scenic, and safe, bike rides in Southeastern New England. We’ve enjoyed a lot of great cycling trips in the area, and refer you to one of these excellent guides to further explore the area. Happy cycling!
Plymouth is great base for your Southeastern New England rides. And there’s so much to enjoy in this historic town. Plymouth at 400: a local’s guide to the perfect weekend.