Shining Sea Rail Trail

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Continuing with the plan to ride many rail-trails this summer, Anna and I headed to Falmouth on Thursday.  That’s the start of one of three bikeways on Cape Cod, and we figured it was better to go to the Cape early in the season before the crowds got there.

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We got up way too early for a day off, but figured that we needed to start the almost 2 hour ride by 9:00 or there would be no point in going. The trail link website had some info about the trail, and listed some parking lots along the route.  There was no parking listed for the very north end of the trail, but I figured we would head there first, anyway.Turned out there is a nice big parking lot right at the start of the trail, with a bathroom.

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The beginning of the trail runs between trees, yards, and some salt marsh.  A lot of the houses along the trail have landscaping on the trail side of the property.  Many houses have little paths running from their yard to the trail.  Along this section of trail, there are lots of benches, with bike racks next to them, sitting near openings to little dirt or woodchipped side trails.

The trail is very flat, and well maintained.  The north end of the trail is newer, and the pavement is very smooth.  Further south there are some bumpy sections, but still a nice ride.

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Somebody took the time to put some really pretty murals under one of the bridges.

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One is painted, but the other looks like tiny tiles glued to the wall.

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About a mile or so before reaching Woods Hole, the trail passes between the beach and a pond.  A section of the pavement has been washed away here, and there are orange barrels and tape marking the spot.  The wind here was brutal!  There were a few guys sitting on the beach eating lunch wearing their bike helmets and jackets.  Seems like they probably ate a lot of sand blown into their food.

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When we got to Woods Hole, we had lunch at a restaurant called Pie in the Sky.  We ate our sandwiches sitting at table outside under a tree.  There were tons of little birds sitting in the tree begging for food.  Every time Anna shared a bit of bread with one, a bunch more would come swooping down, hoping for a bit, too.

Turns out there’s not really much to see in Woods Hole.  We went into an aquarium full of really ugly fish.  I remember visiting there as a teenager, and being so horrified by how gross the fish looked that I swore never to eat seafood again.  They haven’t gotten any more attractive over the years. The best part of the aquarium was the invitation to take your picture with a life ring.

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There were a lot of people on the trail for a weekday, and I can only imagine how crowded a summer weekend would be. We only saw a couple of people riding racing style bikes.  Most were riding old fashioned (or maybe just old) bikes with upright handlebars.  Almost everyone was wearing a helmet.

Heading back, along the part of the trail that runs through a bird sanctuary, I noticed an opening in the fence that led down to a little bridge.  Had to find out where it went!!

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It led to a trail through the marsh.  There were head-high reeds on both sides, so you couldn’t see very much, but there birds sounded really aggravated that somebody was in their space.  Many boards had been set along the path to keep your feet out of the water.

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All in all, the rail trail was definitely worth the trip. About 200 miles round trip on the car and about 22 miles on the bike.  Time to start planning the next one.

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