Cape Cod is a nature lover’s paradise, filled with spaces – greenways, rail trails, and parks – for recreational use. The region is full of natural beauty for both visitors and locals to enjoy. Play, exercise, and enjoy beautiful Massachusetts outdoors, from its beaches to its forests to its manmade parks and trails.
For more information about outdoor recreation on Cape Cod, check out our list of parks and trails on the Cape below.
East Coast Greenway
Once completed, the East Coast Greenway will be the United States’ longest recreational trail at 3,000 miles, connecting 15 states and hundreds of cities from Maine to Florida. This project – now about 35 percent complete – connects trails, greenways, and parks along the coast for safe, road-free cycling, rollerblading, horseback riding, and skiing.
In Massachusetts, the main trail takes you from Newburyport to Boston to Worcester, with a connected arm creating an out-and-back trail all the way to Provincetown at the end of the Cape.
For more information on the East Coast Greenway, visit www.greenway.org.
Cape Cod Rail Trail
The Cape Cod Rail Trail is a cyclist’s paradise.
Follow the 22-mile Cape Cod Rail Trail through six charming towns on the Cape.
This paved recreational trail is good for pedestrians walking and running, cross-country skiers, and horseback riders, among others. Bike paths are accessible, and there are even hand bikes available nearby. Remember, helmets are required by law for children aged 16 and under.
The trail was created in the late 1970s as both a recreational path and tribute to the past. The route follows 19th-century train tracks that once brought vacationers from cities like New York and Boston to the Cape for warm, beach-filled summers.
Another option is the Old Colony Rail Trail, which runs between Harwich and Chatham following an 1893 rail path. This trail is eight miles long, and is rated as easy to intermediate.
Both of these rail trails are owned and maintained by the State of Massachusetts.
Cape Cod National Seashore
The Cape Cod National Seashore is one of the top rated and most popular preserves in the United States for good reason. Its size, variety, and sheer beauty are just some of the contributing factors.
The National Seashore is 40 miles long, offering tranquil white-sand beaches and grassy dunes. The park offers 40,000 acres of beaches, salt marshes, ponds, and woods, and is part of the Atlantic coastal pine barrens ecoregion found in the eastern seaboard.
One of the most scenic parks in the area, the National Seashore provides visitors to its shores an abundance of activities and things to do. There are nearly 10 hiking trails of varying difficulty in the seashore for visitors to enjoy, as well as three bike trails: Province Lands, Nauset, and Head of the Meadow.
Nickerson State Park
This state park is located at the crook of the cape’s arm, in a woodsy area surrounding a series of freshwater ponds.
This 1,900-acre park is one of the bigger state parks in Cape Cod, and offers very different outdoor experience that the barren sand dunes that line the cape. Nickerson features miles of hiking trails through wooded areas, and an eight-mile bike path that connects to the Cape Cod Rail Trail.
The campground boasts a whopping 400 campsites, as well as yurt-style cabins for those who’d rather not sleep in a tent. Spend a day swimming, canoeing, or lying on the freshwater beach. Or, try your hand at reeling in trout from one of the well-stocked kettle ponds, bodies of water formed by glaciers 10,000 years ago.
Explore Cape Cod
Cape Cod is the perfect place to instill an appreciation for nature in your children, as you can spend almost the whole vacation outside. With miles of recreational paths, sandy beaches, and forested trails at your disposal, you’ll never get tired of the great outdoors on Cape Cod. Book your Cape Cod Vacation Today.