Just because Cape Cod is a relatively flat sand bar doesn’t mean there aren’t some pretty sweet places to ride your mountain bike. Several town-owned conservation areas and local parks offer single-track mountain bike trails with terrain that varies from somewhat sandy, flat, fire roads to hilly, rocky, and root filled switchbacks. One local favorite can be found in the West Barnstable Conservation Area.
The Trail of Tears is over 20 miles of marked single track trail, getting its name from two locals who first tackled the original 9 mile dirt bike trail and were so bruised and battered after their first attempt they coined it the “Trail of Tears.” Fear not. Thanks to the New England Mountain Bike Association, conservation volunteers, and community members, the trail is now a fast rolling challenge, not overly technical, with some short and steep sections that twist.
It’s a fun rollercoaster of a ride for recreational bikers and experts alike, though if it’s your first few times out on a mountain bike this trail may not be for you. Luckily the trails are also marked with a numbering system and maps can be found online here:
If you’re just getting into the sport, or simply want a less challenging ride, nearby in the Otis Atwood conservation area is a 1.6 mile rolling single-track trail. This mini loop offers a quick and rewarding ride through some sharp turns on loosely packed pine needles and fallen leaf cover. There are still some short, quick climbs and descents, but overall this ride is nowhere near the difficulty found in the Trail of Tears. You may want to combine a few loops to get a good ride in.
Where to park for Trail of Tears:
Three trailhead parking areas provide access. The largest is located right after the new Route 149 mini-rotary - go halfway around roundabout (straight) on 149, then make an immediate right on the Service Road. Drive approximately one block and look for the parking area on your left.
The second one is off Farmersville Road. Take Route 149 south until you reach a small rotary. Exit on Race Lane and drive just under 2 miles. The parking area is in the woods on your right where Race Lane turns into Farmersville Road.
The third area is on Popple Bottom Road, just north of the Olde Barnstable Fairgrounds Golf Course. Take Popple Bottom Road off Route 149 and look for the entrance on your right.
Where to Park for the Otis Atwood Loop
Parking is located right off Osterville-West Barnstable Road. Take Route 6 to Exit 5 and head south on Route 149. When it curves right, bear left on Osterville-West Barnstable Road and travel approximately 300 yards to a narrow half-moon pull off on your right. Parking is plentiful, and the trailhead is conveniently located directly at the center of this lot.
Matt Van Gelder has worked in bike shops every summer since middle school. After completing his bachelor’s degree in Financial Services from Bryant University, he decided it was time to open his own shop, Dennis Cycle Center on the Cape Cod Rail Trail in Dennis, and combining his finance skills with his bike shop experience.