1. Westport and Dartmouth
The rural, gently rolling backroads of Westport and South Dartmouth have some of the most beautiful scenery in the entire region, making them an excellent destination for your next bike ride.
Begin your route in Westport at Horseneck Beach State Reservation and head east, curving around past the town of Westport’s East Beach. From here, you’ll enjoy an incredible view of Buzzards Bay at one of its widest points. On a clear day, you can even catch a glimpse of Martha’s Vineyard, peeking out from between Cuttyhunk and Nashawena islands.
As you make your way along Horseneck Road, the scene shifts from beaches to farmland — acres and acres of it, dotted with cows, barns, and giant hay bales. You’ll bike past Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary and the Slocum’s River Reserve, a 49-acre Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust reserve with two miles of trails. Both are excellent spots to stop in and explore if you feel like hopping off your bike for a little while.
This 7-mile bike route ends at Russells Mills Village, the earliest settled area in Dartmouth. The village sits on the Paskamansett River, which flows to the Slocums River and Buzzards Bay. From family-owned farms and stores to the popular Parsons Reserve, this quaint community is a great place to spend a little bit of time before you head back to Westport — or continue on toward New Bedford!
2. New Bedford and Fairhaven
Dartmouth’s quiet country scene shifts dramatically to an urban coastal landscape with you reach New Bedford. Even though it’s Buzzards Bay’s largest city, New Bedford — and in particular, its scenic South End — has gained a reputation for being a fantastic place to go for a bike ride.
One great place to begin a bike ride in New Bedford is at the beach. The city’s West Beach, located along West Rodney French Boulevard, looks out over Clarks Cove and the Dartmouth shore. A bike and walking path begins here, tucked safely between the road and the sand.
Along this bike path, you’ll be treated to what some consider one of the most beautiful views of Buzzards Bay. As the path curves around the very tip of the South End peninsula, an incredible vista stretches out around you. If it isn’t hazy, you can gaze across the Bay to the Elizabeth Islands. And in summer, the Bay’s sparkling waters are always busy with boats, from sailboats to ferries to oil barges.
The bike path wraps all the way around the peninsula, home to the 50-acre Fort Taber Park. With its military museum, 19th century fortification, and incredible views, Fort Taber is an excellent spot for a picnic stop.
Past the beaches and the bike path, a 4-mile ride up the road will bring you to downtown New Bedford. If you love coastal New England villages, downtown New Bedford has it all: shops, museums, seafood restaurants, cobblestone streets, and a large fleet of commercial fishing boats. There’s even a national historical park to explore!
Bike up the ramp toward Route 6, and you’ll soon find yourself in Fairhaven. This quaint town is home to another excellent bike path: the Phoenix Bike Trail, a leafy, 3.5-mile trail that’s perfect for a casual ride. It also offers an excellent view of some of the forests and farmland that the Coalition protected as part of the 400-acre Nasketucket Bay Land Conservation Project.
3. Mattapoisett and Rochester
The Phoenix Bike Trail continues into Mattapoisett, where it officially becomes the Mattapoisett Rail Trail. The paved path ends a mile later, at Mattapoisett Neck Road. Take this road north toward Route 6, and you’ll find a network of country roads that are wonderful for cycling.
Across Route 6 lies River Road, so named because it runs along the Mattapoisett River, a winding waterway that begins all the way in Rochester at Snipatuit Pond. River Road isn’t quite that long; you’ll soon find yourself on Acushnet Road, where the Coalition’s Mattapoisett River Reserve stretches across more than 200 acres.
The entrance to the Mattapoisett River Reserve on Acushnet Road, The Bogs, is a great spot to explore on your ride. If you have a hybrid or a mountain bike, you can take a spin on The Bogs’ hiking trails. These wide dirt paths criss-cross 50 acres of retired cranberry bogs before leading you through the woods, eventually coming out at Tinkham Pond on the Tripps Mill side of the reserve.
If you continue north and east for about eight miles (Long Plain Road to Perry Hill Road), you’ll reach East Over Reservation, a farm preserve owned by The Trustees. You can’t miss East Over’s bright yellow barns, which are particularly beautiful in autumn set against the changing leaves. With trails through the woods and lovely views of Leonard’s Pond, East Over Reservation is the perfect place to stretch your legs at the end of this 11-mile route.
4. Cape Cod Canal
Cape Cod Canal in Bourne is known by many as a waterway you have to drive across to reach your destination. But if you like to cycle, the canal is a fantastic destination to spend an afternoon taking a leisurely, scenic bike ride.
Running along both sides of Cape Cod Canal are paved service roads that are perfect for riding. The paths are flat, smooth, wide, and safe from motor vehicle traffic, making them a great option for families with young children.
As you ride along the water, you’ll get a feel for how important Cape Cod Canal is to our local environment. People fish off the shore, and ships and barges cruise by, transporting important supplies north toward Boston and south into Buzzards Bay.
On the west side of the canal, the perfect place to begin your ride is at the Buzzards Bay Recreation Area, located at the base of the canal’s iconic railroad bridge. From there, you can ride all the way down the 7-mile bike path to Scusset Beach at the opposite end of the canal. On the east side, start at Tidal Flats Recreation Area, just across the canal from the Buzzards Bay Recreation Area, and bike to the Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center.
We saved one of the best bike rides for last! Running along the Bay’s eastern shore in Falmouth, the 11-mile Shining Sea Bikeway gives riders a glimpse of quaint communities and natural areas that make Cape Cod such a special part of the Buzzards Bay region.
Casual riders and avid cyclists alike flock to the Shining Sea Bikeway all year long. As you begin your ride in North Falmouth and head south, you’ll quickly see why. The bike path runs past beautiful ponds, lush woods, and even a cranberry bog. Plus, with lots of entrance and exit points along the way, it’s easy to hop off the path to grab a snack or explore one of Falmouth’s many villages.
One of the bike path’s most spectacular views is in West Falmouth. Here, the route veers closer to the Bay, and the landscape opens up to reveal the gorgeous Great Sippewissett Marsh. Ducks and ospreys are a common sight on the salt marsh, as are boats in the distance on the open waters of Buzzards Bay. We promise you’ll want to stop and linger to enjoy the scene.
Another thing that makes the Shining Sea Bikeway so great? It lets you skip the traffic in summer! You can cruise all the way down the bike path into bicycle-friendly Woods Hole for a fun afternoon exploring the village’s shops, restaurants, and attractions. While you’re there, don’t forget to pop into the Coalition’s Woods Hole Outreach Center, which is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Want to experience all five of these rides in one day? Then sign up for the Buzzards Bay Watershed Ride! This annual cycling tour hosted by the Coalition raises money to protect clean water across the entire region. If you like to cycle, it’s one of the best ways you can spend an autumn day.