The Trail of Tears is one of Cape Cod treasures and one of its prime riding areas. The Trail of Tears is a 1200 acre parcel of conservation land in the village of West Barnstable. The main recreation focus is multi-use and revolves around mt.biking, hiking, trail running and cross country skiing. Hunting is allowed in season. Motorized vehicles are not allowed.
The Trail of Tears is very atypical of Cape Cod vegetation. American beech, Red oak, Sassafras, White pine, and American holly make up most of the tree canopy. The understory consists of Sweetfern, Bayberry, Greenbriar, Spirea, and low bush blueberry, to name a few.
Management of the Trail of tears falls under the Barnstable Conservation Commission and the Barnstable Land Management Committee. However, most decisions are made by the Barnstable Land management Committee which is a non-regulatory board.
There is approximately 21 miles of singletrack that wind throughout the Trail of Tears area. The majority of singletrack is short and steep with some very twisted sections. Though the trails are not very technical, they’re full of short steep climbs which make for a great aerobic roller coaster ride.
Maps are available through the Conservation Department. Cape Cod NEMBA has built a scenic overlook in this area as well as naming and marking the trails with signs.
- The first GPX file at the top of this page traces a 6.1 mile introductory or mellow route 97% of which should be suitable for riders of any level. It starts off easy and then, after a warm up, get's a little harder and finishes on a series of extremely fun singletracks
- The second is an 11.3 mile intermediate route. It has almost 700 feet of climbing and has lots of hills and singletracks. It is not too technically difficult, but is significantly harder than the mellow route.
- The third is a 17.3 mile advanced route that is meant to challenge you. It contains the most difficult trails at the Trail of Tears and has over 1100 feet of climbing. That being said it's a lot of fun to ride.
NOTE: Both the intermediate and advanced loops formed part of the 2016 Cape Cod NEMBA Mountain Bike Adventure Series Ride.
The Trail of Tears was originally a 9 mile enduro motorcycle loop back in the 70's It is now a meticulously maintained and marked with over 20 miles of singletrack trails. Fire roads and fields add to the diversity. In the early 80's a couple of local legends, Doug Jordan and Art Hastings grabbed their Univega Alpha Unos and attempted those motorcycle trails which were straight-up-and-down-over-the-bars-rear-tire-skidding steep. At the end of 9 miles with tears in their eyes and many bruises, they called the area the "Trail of Tears". The trails have changed a lot over the years thanks to CapeCod NEMBA members and their hard work. Now the trails are mostly a pleasant fast rolling challenge. Although there many areas to ride on the Cape, the Trail of Tears is one of the best.
How to get there:
The Trail of Tears parking lot is located just off exit 5 on the mid-cape highway, Route 6. From the East take a right off the exit then another right. That is the Service Road. If you're coming from the East turn left at the end of the exit ramp and then turn right on the Service Road. Parking is approximately 300 yards down on the left. Start here and your ride begins with hills.
Another parking lot is located at 1590 Race Lane on the South side of the conservation area. From exit 5 head south on Route 149 until you get to a small rotary. Turn right on Race Lane and follow it for just under two miles. You'll see the parking area in the woods on your right where Farmersville Road intersects with Race Lane. Start here and your ride begins on flat singletrack.
How to volunteer to care for this park:
Cape Cod NEMBA does regular trail care of the trails and works with Barnstable's Conservation Commission to protect and preserve this trail system. Contact Cape Cod NEMBA to find out about the next trail care event. Read more about Trail of Tears