provincelands @ cape cod national seashore

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am going to highlight some of the bike rides from our New England vacation last week. Our ride on the Provincelands Bike Trail in the Cape Cod National Seashore was by far the most scenic and enjoyable cycling I have done to date. This trail is phenomenal. It is well maintained and was completely overhauled in 2009.

Most people travel to Provincetown for the quaint shopping, whale watch and sightseeing excursions, great dining choices and the interesting nightlife. This LGBT artist colony is the Key West of the north. Like Key West, the diversity of the people and the tolerance for all people is their way of life. Gay couples walking hand in hand, street performers and drag queens share the streets with families, older heterosexual couples and people from all nations.

Most people do not venture much out of P’town and into the national seashore. I know we hadn’t before this trip. If you have not, you must on your next trip. There is so much to explore and the scenery is spectacular. The beaches are clean and convenient. One caution here is that the water temperature even in July is pretty cold. You don’t see many people in the water like you do in the Carolinas or Florida.

We started our cycling adventure in the morning from our bed and breakfast, the Secret Garden Inn on Commercial Street near McMillen Wharf, the center of P’town. Cycling down Commercial Street through heavy morning pedestrian and delivery truck traffic was both challenging and interesting. At the end of Commercial Street, we were greeted by salt marshes as we cycled toward Herring Cove Beach. This beach is interesting in that there is a huge almost ¼ mile long parking lot where RVs and cars backup to the beach for the day. The bike trail begins at the end of the parking lot.

The Provincelands Bike Trail is basically a loop with a leg off to Race Point Beach. We chose to cycle the loop clockwise heading into the dunes. This trail gives you a real workout. Even though you are at sea level, the dunes dip and roll. The trail was pretty clear of sand and nicely paved as we wound our way to the Provincelands Visitor Center. The center is located on a high spot with observation decks with commanding views of the seashore. It is a must-stop for cyclists.

After leaving the visitor’s center we headed to Race Point Beach passing the Provincetown Airport. Race Point Beach is a much nicer beach than Herring Cove. This area is also quite scenic. The Coast Card Station and old harbor life saving station provide interesting elements for photos of the beaches and dunes. This leg is well worth the ride off of the trail’s loop and maybe added a few miles to our ride.

Back onto the loop trail we passed the visitor’s center and headed into the beech forest. We were surprised by the change in terrain and vegetation on this segment of the trail. It was much more level and we cycled for about 3 miles in the woods. This shaded trail was welcomed since it was now after noon and the temperature was somewhere around the mid 90s. It made a much more leisurely return trip to P’town.

The ride was about 16 miles. You can check it out here. I so so highly recommend it to anyone vacationing on the Cape. It really gives you a complete tour of the dunes and beaches on the northernmost tip of Cape Cod. It’s definitely not a beginner’s trail. The elevation changes give you a good workout but are well worth the effort. I rate this trail an A++ and consider it the best trail I have ridden to date.
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