The last time we visited this trail was 5 years ago. Not much has changed. It is still the pretty wooded, hilly, curvy path that leads to the wave beaten beach known as Coast Guard Beach. It was a beach that we visited once a year as children that has since been reshaped by the weather. The parking lot and bath houses no longer exist, and the beach feels like a different size and shape. There is a sign past the end of the trail with a photo of all of the old cars at the old parking lot that shows what the beach used to look like.
The 1.6 mile trail is paved and begins at the Visitor's Center and heads though the woods. I wrote before that the trail is not very challenging as it is down hill to the beach, but when we went this time I distinctly recall pedaling uphill almost immediatly. It was up and down, left and right, the whole way top the beach and back. You do have to return to where you parked, making the trail a little over 3 miles round trip. There are street crossings so caution is important. The highest number of accidents at the National Seashore are bicycle related. This is probably only reassuring to hear if you are afraid of shark attacks.
At the end of the trail there is a bike rack to lock your bike to so you can go down to the beach. If you are feeling ambitious, upon your return to the visitor's center parking lot, you may travel from the Cape Cod Rail Trail to the Nauset Bike Trail. Follow the signs. We went out for lunch at yet another unmemorable place to eat, and then continued on to the Head of the Meadows bike trail.
Take Route 6. There will be a big sign for the National Seashore on the right soon after a windmill on the left if you came from the rotary in Orleans. If you came from Province Town/Wellfleet/Truro area it is on the left soon after Arnold's Lobster and Clam Bar. Park immediately at the visitor's Center. There are bathrooms on the side of the parking lot near the visitor's center. The bike trail starts at the opposite end of the parking lot from Route 6. Watch for traffic. They are as lost and confused as you are.
What to Bring
- bike lock
- sun block
- beach towel for the beach if you plan to stay
- a pack or pouch to carry your items in while biking
- binoculars if you like to birdwatch
Additional Things to Do
There are walking trails from the Visitor's Center that do not allow bikes as well as displays in the Visitor's Center. The beach is also very beautiful and the waves are larger than many other Cape Cod beaches.
First Encounter Beach is nearby on the bay side. It is a nice place to go and watch the sunset. During low tide you may walk out to what seems like forever. During high tide, the beach is a small sliver in comparison.