on_cape_cod_canal_bike_trailCycling is a great family activity, particularly on vacation. It’s inexpensive, good for you and lets you experience a place from a different perspective. You can take a long trip, a short ride, avoid parking fees and generally have a great time.

When I was growing up we rode our bicycles everywhere. And whether it’s a midlife pining in me, I’ve had the strong desire to take my dusty bike down from where it hangs in the garage and start rolling again. That’s why when we recently went up to Cape Cod the two-wheeled chariots came with us and my son and I tried a bike route I’ve been longing to do for years – the Cape Cod Canal.

The Cape Cod Canal was opened in 1914. In 1928 the U.S. Government purchased the Canal and employed about 1400 men during the Great Depression to widen and deepen it. When it reopened in 1940 it was the widest sea-level canal in the world. Approximately 40,000 vessels use the Canal each year and today it is run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

There is a bike path along the north and south sides of the Canal, depending, of course, if you’re “on Cape” or “off Cape.” My 10-year-old and I opted for the north side, beginning our ride at the Herring Run Recreation Center, one of three points you can start your journey. The whole of the Canal route on the north side represents a seven-mile stretch and on the south side six-and-a-half miles. From our start point at Herring Run to the Bourne Bridge and back would be six miles. We were ready. 

What is delightful about the trail is its flatness. The ride simply needs a steady, consistent rhythm of pedaling, which also provides a lovely opportunity to look around and enjoy the scenery. Fisherman seemed to be having success with the catches along the shore.View_from_under_the_Bourne_Bridge Assorted dog walkers and roller bladers shared the paved path with us. Pausing under the Bourne Bridge, we enjoyed a different view from underneath the structure that so many times allowed us passage OVER  the Canal. There is also a self-guided bike tour that is clearly marked that shares a bit of the history of the Canal and points of interest.

When we biked the Canal, parking at Herring Run was convenient and easy. We pulled in, pulled out the bicycles, and went! That was before the tourist season got into full swing pre-Fourth of July. I did notice during our trip there last weekend that the lot was quite full on a Sunday afternoon. My recommendation would be to do a ride either early or late in the day. Many take advantage of the Canal on picture perfect summer days and you’ll be sharing the path with a lot of people.

If you’re looking for a relaxing bike trail that offers a relatively easy short or long ride check out the Cape Cod Canal bicycle path on your next visit.