Letterbox Planted:  July 6, 2010

Last Updated:           August 01, 2023

Length:                     Shining Sea Bikeway; 10.7 miles

Difficulty:                 Easy. Paved, flat rail trail.                              


To start from Country Rd parking lot in North Falmouth [Northern End]; From Route 28 take the Route 151exit and travel west. After crossing the RR tracks the bike trail starts on your left and the parking lot will be on your right.

To start from Depot Ave in Falmouth Village [South Central Section]; From Route 28 travel south to Falmouth Village. Turn right on Depot Rd to the parking lot next to the trail.  

The Shining Sea Bikeway travels from the ferry terminal in Woods Hole through the villages of Falmouth along the former rail bed of the NY, New Haven & Hartford Railroad. Train service ran from NY and Boston to Woods Hole from 1872 to 1965. The bikeway's name honors Katharine Lee Bates, born in Falmouth in 1859, who penned "America the Beautiful," with its line, And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea!"  For more information visit; SHINING SEA BIKEWAY . If you wish to bike Martha's Vineyard you can take your bike over to the island on a ferry from Woods Hole. The ride over is only 45 minutes long. For more information visit; Martha's Vineyard Bike Paths .

Starting from the Ferry Terminal in Woods Hole [Southern End]; The trail starts off Railroad Ave, next to the entrance for the Steamship Authority's parking lot.  

Note; Plenty of places to grab a bite to eat in Woods Hole. You can also take a quick on-road detour of 0.4 miles to check out the free WOODS HOLE SCIENCE AQUARIUM (very small but A/C). Head right up Railroad Ave, then left along Water St, cross the draw bridge and continue to Albatross St where you turn right. The aquarium is on your left.

Heading North the Shining Sea Bikeway starts out as a BIKE LANE along an access road and through a parking lot before coming to a Map Board and start of the off road trail at 0.7 miles. Enter the woods along a small berm on the paved trail and you'll pass by a granite 1 Mile Marker (Mile Markers every mile). You'll come alongside the Vineyard Sound at 1.5 miles where you can stop and check out the beach. 

Note; When you reach Surf Drive at 2 miles, there is limited parking on the left.

After crossing Surf Drive you'll spot an old cement RR Whistle marker on the right, left over from the RR days. You then travel alongside Oyster Pond, leaving the sound behind. Check out the large wind mill past the pond. Before you cross Elm Rd, your next road crossing, look up to your right and you'll spot a large Osprey nest on a wooden platform. You now travel through the  SALT POND BIRD SANCTUARIES. You'll see various walking paths along the right side of the trail. After 3 miles you leave the sanctuary behind and enter a more wooded, residential area. You'll cross busy Locust St/Woods Hole Rd and pass a small parking lot at 3.2 miles. Map Board, picnic tables and Porto-Potty located here. At 3.6 miles you come to the Depot Rd where you'll need to turn left (parking lot) and cross the old RR tracks to return to the trail. 

Note; Heading left up Highfield Drive will bring you to BEEBE WOODS

Continuing along the trail, along your right are some old RR tracks and an old RR crossing sign. At 4.5 miles another old Whistle stop marker on your left. Then, just before you travel underneath Ter Heun Dr, is some type of gazebo building? After you pass by a bench on your left and a rocky slope on your right spot the 4.7 mile marker embedded in the trail just before you come to a wooden fence on the right. From the start of this fence, backtrack along the trail 2 paces (2 steps = 1 pace) and spot the stonewall just off  the trail. Go to where the stonewall drops sharply (looks like a gap) and right around the backside of the wall. At the base of the wall, remove 1 rock to reveal the SHINING SEA BIKEWAY LETTERBOX. From here on I noticed that the trail is marked off every tenth mile, along with the granite Mile Markers. I'm not sure where these markers started, probably from where the trail was most recently built. The trail then slowly pulls away from the more residential areas and becomes a bit more isolated. At 4.5 miles a couple of benches overlook scenic Little Sippewissett Marsh. At 6 miles you emerge from the woods and travel through the Great Sippewissett Marsh along a causeway. You can spot Buzzards Bay in the distance. After crossing Quahog Pond Rd you travel past Fresh Pond on the left. You then cross Little Neck Bars Rd and travel along another causeway with a promenade overlooking a pond on your right and Harbor Neck along your left. You head back into the open woods, crossing Chapoquoit Rd at 7 miles. Keep an eye to your right and you'll spot some old telephone poles along a marsh from the RR days. Cross Old Dock Rd and come to a parking lot at 7.4 miles. Map Board located here. Just past the 8 Mile Marker spot an old RR Mileage Marker on your left with a 9 on it. Cross another causeway at 8.8 miles and through a cranberry bog. Cross Winslow Rd at 10 miles. Look right to spot an old red caboose next to a restaurant. At 10.3 look right to see an old RR siding with tracks. The trail then comes alongside the tracks and ends after 10.6 miles at Country Rd. The Country Road parking lot is located across the road to the left at 10.7 miles. Porto-Potty located here. Just over the RR tracks along Country Rd is ART'S BIKE SHOP .  

Note; Plans are underway to extend this trail north to the Cape Cod Canal Trail in Bourne, as the Bourne Rail Trail. Expected construction in 2024.






SEPTEMBER 04, 2022