The Provincetown Loop is a classic and scenic Massachusetts cycling trip, mostly on marked bike routes and bike paths, through the South Shore to the end of Cape Cod. Cyclists can make the trip into a loop by taking a ferry back from Provincetown to either Boston or Plymouth. The full trip can be reasonably done in a weekend with one night camping, or as a long day-trip.
What Makes It Great
Miles of quiet bike trails dotted with ice-cream shops, scenic ocean-side riding, and a ferry ride across Cape Cod make this trip unique and a must-do for any cyclist in the Boston area. There are a few different flavors of this trip depending on how much scenery you want to see and how much time you have.
The shortest option is a Plymouth-Provincetown-Plymouth loop, about 80 miles of cycling and perhaps the best bang for your buck in time. From Plymouth cycle down 3A south to the Sagamore Bridge, then East on 6A until you meet up with the Cape Cod Rail Trail near South Yarmouth. This rail trail is very fun, with no cars, mostly flat grade, and plenty of ice-cream shops along the way. When the rail trail ends in Wellfleet, follow route 6 the rest of the way to Provincetown. Then enjoy a swim on the beach on Cape Cod National Seashore, walk out to the lighthouse on the very tip of the Long Point Peninsula, or relax in P-town. To get back to Plymouth just hop on the next ferry and cruise back across Cape Cod Bay, looking back to shore on the route you just biked!
The trip can be done in one day with an early start, but can also easily be split over a few days. There are several nice places to camp on the way, including Myles Standish State Forest, Sandy Neck Beach Park, and Nickerson State Park. Just throw a tent and sleeping bag in some paniers and take off!
A longer option is to start biking in Boston, covering roughly 120 miles to Provincetown. This is a great training ride if you plan on doing some longer bicycle tours, and typically involves camping in the middle. From Provincetown you can take a ferry directly back to Boston. A final option is to take your bike on the commuter rail to Plymouth, bike to Provincetown, and take the ferry back to Boston.
Who is Going to Love It
Cyclists interested in long scenic coastal rides on rail trails and quiet roads will love this trip. If you’re into camping and cycling, why not try combining the two? With all the state parks along Cape Cod you have plenty of camping options.
If you’re an experienced cyclists you’ll enjoy the challenge of a good century ride to get to Provincetown in a day. Then you can either spend the night in P-town or try to catch the last evening ferry back.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get to Plymouth for the shorter biking option, just hop on the MBTA Commuter Rail and start biking right from the Plymouth stop. If planning to take you bike on the Commuter Rail on a weekday, ensure that you avoid peak hours when bikes are prohibited. (Generally 5-9 am inbound, 4-7 pm outbound, but check www.mbta.com for more details). If starting from Boston just head toward 3A and start following the coast down.