Buzzards Bay is a bicyclist’s dream. From Little Compton, R.I., to Falmouth, MA, cyclists will find plenty of routes to excite the senses—views of verdant farms and quaint villages, the tang of salt air along coastal beaches and salt marshes, and the deep quiet of peaceful woodlands and backroads.
It’s true that the region boasts some excellent bike paths—more than 40 miles and still expanding—including the Saulnier Memorial Bike Trail in New Bedford, the Phoenix Bike Trail in Fairhaven and its Mattapoisett Rail Trail extension, and the Shining Sea Bikeway in Falmouth. The paths vary in character and all have their charms.
But for an adventure that will take you far from the crowd and connect you with some of the Bay’s most scenic locations, you can’t beat the quiet country roads that can be found all around the area. The Coalition’s annual Watershed Ride, which runs 100 miles from Sakonnet Point to Woods Hole, travels many of the area’s best roads for bicycling, but here are six shorter routes—some of which use parts of our annual October cycling event.
1. Little Compton
A blend of well-manicured homes, dense woodlands and wide open coastal scenes make cycling in Little Compton a joyful experience. Our route around the town clocks in at just under 15 miles with side trips to South Beach and Sakonnet Point. Starting from the Commons, ride east out of the town’s historic district before turning toward the Bay and then the southwestern most point of land on the Bay. Return back on the wide and stately West Main Road, which serves as the start of the Watershed Ride.
2. Westport and Dartmouth
This ride offers a bit of everything that makes the area special, including an 18-mile option and a 28-mile loop that extends the ride to the edge of Apponagansett Bay. Starting from Gooseberry Island, you will pedal past sweeping views of Buzzards Bay before turning inland to rolling hills dotted with working farms, and the historic village of Russells Mills. For those interested in the longer ride, you can look forward to rolling through delicate salt marshes near Potomska Point before reaching Apponagansett Bay and the bridge to Padanaram. Both rides return to the beach via the long straight run down Division Road. (This route also offers a preview of parts of the Watershed Ride.)
3. Southeast Mass BioReserve
This ride is a true adventure ramble, a 24-mile loop that features some sections of dirt and gravel roads along with miles of paved country roads, all of it traversing through some of the quietest and deepest woodlands in the region. Start from the Freetown-Fall River State Forest and head south on a wide, well-traveled road before turning on to quieter lanes. After reaching the quiet hamlet of Hix Bridge, you head east over rolling terrain before reaching Blossom Road, turning north to pass the Headwaters Conservation Area and the Watuppa Reserve. Several miles of dirt road, which fill with large, muddy puddles after rain, will bring you to Assonet Village and a steady climb back to the start.
4. Mattapoisett and Rochester
Start by the Bay and ride north past farms, woodlands, cranberry bogs and dense wetlands for a 30-mile loop that begins and ends in Mattapoisett village. (For a shorter route, you can take Perry Hill Road to cut the route in half.) After crossing Route 6, roll north through the Mattapoisett River Reserve, passing The Bogs and the Tinkhamtown Woodlands. On Long Plain Road, tree branches form a long green tunnel into Rochester. Walnut Plain Road offers a lovely return southward to East Over Farm’s eye catching yellow barns and buildings, the lunch site for the Watershed Ride.
5. Lakeville Rollers
The rolling hills along Route 105 between Great Quitticas and Little Quittcas ponds provide some thrilling dips, climbs and swooping turns. However, this 25-mile loop also offers some quieter pleasures. Start from Apponequet Regional High School and head east toward the lakes that give the town its name. Vaughn Street will take you from a quiet, semi-rural neighborhood to deeper woodland areas. The causeway between ponds at Long Point Road, which passes Betty’s Neck conservation area, is a scenic highlight before you reach the rolling hills and the final miles back to the high school.
6. Pocasset Heights
Quiet country roads are hard to come on the eastern side of the Cape Cod Canal, particularly during the summer months. Shore Road is one of our favorite byways. On the Watershed Ride, it is the reward for walking across Bourne Bridge. Even at the height of summer, it is typically quieter than other routes and it is incredibly scenic, passing beaches, marinas and salt marshes. An out-and-back 10-mile ride from the canal to Pocasset Heights is always a winner, with the small loop past Hen’s Cove Beach to sweeping views of the upper Bay. The ambitious can always decide to venture further down Shore Road toward the Shining Sea Bikeway and on to Woods Hole for a 30-mile round trip.
Have another favorite route to share? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.