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Nantucket, Massachusetts: Bike trail ideas

Written by Fiona

March 28 2022

Nantucket is a small island 30 miles south of Cape Cod in Massachusetts and it is claimed to be one of the safest places for cycling in the US. In fact, due to its size and the dedication of the local authorities and people to preserve the local wildlife and nature, it is recommended that you skip the car and take your bike or rent one when visiting this island.

There is an extended network of bike paths and trails reaching just about every beach, site and area on the island. There are also rules and regulations for protecting the cyclists, along with the motorists.

Perhaps you have already booked accommodation on the island, such as one of the authentic private residences available at Congdon & Coleman? If so, you might Elbe keen to explore on two wheels and here are some useful tips and ideas for the best bike trails.

First of all, keep in mind that if you are planning on biking through the historic downtown of Nantucket, you should use the streets rather than the sidewalks (pavements).

Also, the local officials advise bikers to avoid cycling with headphones. Instead, you can enjoy the songs of the birds and the chatter of the people around you.

The last piece of advice is always to wear a helmet and make sure that you have lights and reflectors if you will be riding your bike at night. Plus, make sure to ride slowly and reasonably on the bike paths, which are multipurpose, for your and for everyone else’s safety. The trails are used by pedestrians, too.

Keep in mind that even though there are numerous bike paths covering the entire island, some places like the downtown don’t have marked bike trails, so you should use the street and follow the regular traffic rules there. Always ride with the traffic flow rather than on the wrong side of the road.

You can take your own bike via the traditional ferry by Steamship authority or rent one as soon as you set foot on the island.

There are three main bike trails in Nantucket: Siasconset on the east coast, to Madaket on the west, and to Surfside, located in the southern part of the island.

Here are some of the top-rated and recommended bike trails to explore when visiting Nantucket.

1. Polpis Road Path

This trail starts from the Milestone bike path and heads through the Rotary to Polpis, then Quidnet, and reaches Sconset Beach and Sankaty Light lighthouse, which is on the eastern coast of Nantucket.

Ride along Polpis Road and you will pass alongside the famous cranberry bogs. The trail is 9.5 miles and is actually the long way to get to Siasconset from town, but it is picturesque and fun.

The trail, especially when passing by the bogs, is somewhat sandy, so it is recommended to use a mountain bike for more traction.

The entire circuit on both the Polpis and the Milestone bike paths amounts to 14 miles, so plan ahead or start your trip earlier in the morning. You can take a whole day trip along these bike paths and enjoy the stunning sites while exploring Nantucket.

2. Surfside Road Path

This is a 2.2-mile bike path that starts from the Nantucket high school and reaches Surfside Beach.

Surfside is a neighbourhood in Nantucket popular among surfers, youngsters and adventurers. The Surfside bike path connects downtown Nantucket to Surfside. The ride is about 25 minutes if you keep cycling without stopping.

The Surfside Beach is a fun place to spend the day, especially if you love surfing and water sports. If you want to enjoy a snack or have breakfast or lunch, you can pop into The Surf. Or, if you prefer, you can prepare a picnic basket ahead of your trip and have a wonderful beach picnic on Surfside Beach.

Sankaty beach.

3. Sankaty Trail

If you want to reach the Sankaty bike trail, the best way to go is to walk the bike on the Candle Street sidewalk up to Washington Street. Then, it becomes a two-way street, so you can hop on the bike and follow the route signs to Orange Street and then to the Rotary.

If you don’t like walking your bike, you can avoid the one-way streets and take Easy Street up to Washington Street instead.

When you reach Milestone Road, keep riding northeast until you get to the picturesque village of Siasconset. You can explore the village with its iconic grey weathered shingle-style cottages, roses, and gardens by bike, but you need to ride on the street. Don’t worry, though, because it is a quiet place, so riding on the road is safe.

Then you can get to the Polpis Road path, which passes by the golf course and reaches the Sankaty Light. The 20-mile trail goes through some woods and then returns to Milestone Road. 

4. Madaket Road Path

If you want to explore the west side of Nantucket, you can take the Madaket bike trail from downtown. The ride to Madaket is about half an hour so that you can enjoy some of the most beautiful beaches on the island pretty soon.

The trail starts at the intersection of Madaket Road and Massasoit Bridge Road. It is 5.5 miles long and will take you to the Madaket neighborhood.

Those who like exploring the wildlife and spotting birds can take a turn to the left on this path and head off to the nearby forest. There, you can see deer, rabbits and multiple birds.

When you get to the beach, you can enjoy one of the most breathtaking sunsets ever. After your trip, you can enjoy some mouthwatering tacos at the nearby Millie’s restaurant.

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