The Cape Cod Rail Trail might receive the most fanfare, but one of my favorite summer rides is just off the trail in Eastham. Start on Main Street in Orleans in the parking lot next to Orleans Cycle and head out on the CCRT toward Eastham. Soon you are enveloped by the velvety marsh, where red-winged blackbirds sit atop the swaying cattails. At Locust Road, veer right off the trail and cross over Route 6 to reach the Cape Cod National Seashore visitors center.
This is the start of a 2-mile bike trail that sweeps up and down through the forest and marsh, leaving you at Coast Guard and Nauset Light beaches, a long stretch of glorious coastline, backed by towering dunes. If you feel like a dip, lock your bikes and head down the stairs. Once you have had your fill of sun and sea, take Cable Road past Three Sisters Lighthouses. A left turn at the end of the road and a right on Brackett Road leads back to the Cape Cod Rail Trail. Turn left toward Orleans and you will soon smell the fried clams of Arnold’s, a lobster-in-the-rough restaurant beloved by my family.
Continue on the trail through a tunnel and you will arrive back at the Orleans Cycle parking lot in less than 30 minutes. Well, actually, the ride can lengthen depending on how many onion rings you devour at Arnold’s.