North America

Cape Cod, MA

Cape Cod is a hook-shaped peninsula of Massachusetts, and is a popular summertime destination. There are quaint villages, seafood shacks, lighthouses, kettle ponds, salt marshes, and gorgeous beaches on the bay and ocean sites with 400 miles of shoreline. The natural highlight is the Cape Cod National Seashore, preserved since the early 1960s, which runs from Eastham to Provincetown. Sandwich is the oldest town on the Cape, and Provincetown is the most vibrant commercial area. This is our comprehensive guide to the best places to run in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

It is 60 miles from the Sagamore Bridge to Provincetown. The are four ‘areas’ of the Cape: The Upper Cape: Bourne, Sandwich, Falmouth, and Mashpee; Mid-Cape: Barnstable, Yarmouth and Dennis;  Lower Cape: Harwich, Brewster, Chatham; and Outer Cape: Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, Eastham and Orleans (National Seashore).

Our Cape Cod running guide features 20 of the best routes — a great collection of beach runs, bike trails, off-road paths, oceanfront roads, and architectural gems. See our ‘Overview’ post for a guide to the routes by area/town, and our list of the ‘bests’ by theme (beach, trail, town, etc.). A few notes about running on Cape Cod:

  • There aren’t very many roads that go for a long way ‘along the ocean’
  • For beach running, the Bay Side beaches are better. Keep an eye on the tides
  • Many of the roads outside village centers don’t have sidewalks or shoulders
  • Route 6A, the ‘Kings Highway’, is very pretty in spots, but due to traffic and lack of shoulder, is not safe for running. Might be OK if you go off season or really early.
  • Take advantage of the many wonderful bike paths. The best for running: Shining Sea Bike Path, Cape Cod Rail Trail, Nauset Trail.
  • All Routes
  • Iconic Routes
  • Weather & Climate
  • Stores & Group Runs
  • Events

The Strand Beach Path

Cape Cod, MA

Few cities in the world rival L.A. for fantastic beach running options. This 22-mile path starts at Rogers Beach in the north, to Venice, Manhattan, and Redondo beaches, ending at Torrance Beach in the south.
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Cape Cod Canal Trail

Cape Cod, MA

Wonderful, paved trail running for 7 miles along the Cape Cod Canal between the Bourne and Sagamore bridges. Great water and bridge views the whole way. Can run on the north or south sides. Markers every 1/2 mile.
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Mashpee- Monomoscoy Island

Cape Cod, MA

A nice option in the Mashpee area. Run along Red Brook Road and down across a causeway. The island is a mix of old cottages and newer lush homes. This finger of land has good water views on either side as you get toward the tip.
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Shining Sea Bikeway

Cape Cod, MA

Terrific bike path running 10.7 miles from North Falmouth to Woods Hole. Good variety of terrain. Most spectacular section is the first 2+ miles from the Woods Hole End, with wonderful ocean views.
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Falmouth: Waterside Run

Cape Cod, MA

Fantastic waterside running, with views to Vineyard Sound. There are two ~3 mile one-way sections: Surf Drive; and Grand Ave. & Menauhant Ave. from Falmouth Heights Beach to East Falmouth. A 2 mile 'inland' section separates these two areas.
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Falmouth: Falmouth Road Race

Cape Cod, MA

Famous road race and one of the most scenic runs on the Cape. 7-mile one way course between Woods Hole and Falmouth Heights Beach, with with ocean views for more than half the route. There are mile markers along the route!
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Osterville Loop

Cape Cod, MA

A 'highlights of Osterville' route, along pretty roads with some lovely homes and occasional ocean views. One of the nicest stretches is along East Bay Rd.
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Barnstable Village

Cape Cod, MA

A pleasant run starting along cute Barnstable Village Main St. There are two loops: a 2.75 mile more wooded loop, and a 2 mile loop with water and farmland marsh views.
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Barnstable: Sandy Neck

Cape Cod, MA

Park and trail system, with vast dunes, vernal pools, maritime forests, and a public beach. The area is great for walking, and running is possible though surfaces vary and it can be challenging.
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Hyannis 5 Miler

Cape Cod, MA

One of the best waterside runs in the mid-Cape. The main feature is a run down to Kalmus beach, and a run around the Hyannis Inner Harbor. The area is busy and bustling in mid-summer.
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Dennis Port Waterside Run

Cape Cod, MA

Classic Cape Cod run: Sandy beach roads along weathered beach cottages and seafood restaurants, some areas with fancier homes, shaded cottage-y side streets, and some beach side running. We've put together two great options.
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Cape Cod Rail Trail

Cape Cod, MA

Paved bicycle trail that runs 22 miles from South Dennis to Wellfleet. The CCRT passes by many local points of interest and several areas with lakes suitable for swimming / picnicing, including Nickerson State Park in Brewster.
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Harwich Run

Cape Cod, MA

A pleasant alternative to the bike path, the highlight of this loop is Red River Beach, using Uncle Venies Rd. Nice views, and a nearly 1 mile section along the beach or beach parking lot road. Good opportunities to vary the run.
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Chatham Grand Tour

Cape Cod, MA

Chatham is one of the prettiest towns on the Cape. This is a grand 7.5 mile tour, which includes a run along Shore Dr., a section along Oyster Pond, and a jaunt out to Morris Island and the Monomoy Wildlife Refuge. Good options to vary & shorten.
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Nickerson State Park

Cape Cod, MA

Like running in a pine forest of North Carolina. 8 miles of paved, hilly bike trails make for a great off-road option in the mid-Cape. Cool off with a swim in one of the 8 kettle (glacial) ponds.
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Bay Side Beaches

Cape Cod, MA

The best beach running on the Cape tends to be on the Bay side. A favorite is in the Brewster area, between Breakwater Beach in the north and Boat Meadow Landing in the south. In good conditions, this is beach running heaven.
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National Seashore Beaches

Cape Cod, MA

The signature ocean side beaches on Cape Cod are along Cape Code National Seashore, which stretches from Eastham to Provincetown. Running on these beaches is situational - can be great, or sloped with softer sand.
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Cape Cod: Salt Pond Area Trails

Cape Cod, MA

Some great running options around the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham: 1.3 mile Nauset Marsh Trail (sandy); 1.5 mile Nauset Trail down to Coast Guard Beach. A 'full tour' 6.5 miles, including Ocean View Dr. to Nauset Light Beach & Nauset Lighthouse.
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Wellfleet Tour

Cape Cod, MA

Wellfleet is one of the prettiest towns on the Cape. A lovely, short loop incorporates Main St. and heads down to the Harbor. A longer run is to head along Chequessett Neck Rd. out to the Great Island parking lot.
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Wellfleet – Ocean View Dr.

Cape Cod, MA

Nice open run in Wellfleet, atop bluffs, with ocean views along part of the way. The whole section is 3.3 miles one way, or a nice there and back is the 1.8 miles to the Beachcomber. Can be combined with one of the inland roads.
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Wellfleet – Great Island

Cape Cod, MA

One of the most wonderful places to run on Cape Cod. The beach at Great Island is fantastic for running at low tides. The area is a popular walking/hiking trail, combining pine forest, mud flats, marshes, and a beautiful beach. Can be challenging due to soft sand.
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Provincetown Tour

Cape Cod, MA

Seaside town at the northern tip of Cape Cod with a bustling commercial street in summer. Good running options are along Commercial St., on the beach (tide dependent), and a 7 mile loop including part of the Province Lands trails. Great at sunset!
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The Strand Beach Path

Cape Cod, MA

Few cities in the world rival L.A. for fantastic beach running options. This 22-mile path starts at Rogers Beach in the north, to Venice, Manhattan, and Redondo beaches, ending at Torrance Beach in the south.
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Falmouth: Waterside Run

Cape Cod, MA

Fantastic waterside running, with views to Vineyard Sound. There are two ~3 mile one-way sections: Surf Drive; and Grand Ave. & Menauhant Ave. from Falmouth Heights Beach to East Falmouth. A 2 mile 'inland' section separates these two areas.
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The Cape’s climate is heavily influenced by the ocean, and is quite different than Boston’s. Summer, the most popular season for visitors, is generally delightful, with less heat and humidity than most of the east coast. July-August average highs are in the high 70sF (25C), and nights are warm but not hot. Rainfall is less frequent than in Boston, due to fewer heat-driven thunderstorms. Fall is gorgeous, with pleasant, mild weather lingering into early November.

Hyannis weather chart

The ocean has a big influence in winter. It is generally damp and chilly, with cold winds. Nor’easter storms can be ferocious, although Hyannis receives an average of only 12″ of snow a year. Many winter storms produce  a kitchen sink of snow, sleet, and rain. Spring can be frustrating, as the cool ocean and northeast winds can keep the skies cloudy and the temps cool well into May.

 

 

There are three dedicated running stores on the Cape: venerable Marathon Sports has stores in Mashpee and Yarmouth, part of their 11-store Massachusetts chain. Fabulous folks and very helpful to us with this guide!

Hanlons, on Main St. in Hyannis, has been in business for 40 years!

Marathon Sports Mashpee: Mashpee Commons.  Group Runs:  6:30pm on Tuesdays, 3-5 miles

Marathon Sports Yarmouth (formerly Bayside Runner): Plymouth & South Yarmouth. Group Runs: 6:15pm on Thursdays in Yarmouth, 3-5 miles… check their Facebook page for twice-monthly pub runs across Plymouth and the Cape/

Hanlon Shoes: Main Street in Hyannis. Group Runs: weekly run at 6pm on Wednesdays in winter, 5-6 miles… track workouts at Barnstable High School in summer months.

Cape Cod Road Race Calendar. From the Cape Cod Athletic Club website.

Here are some of the signature running events on the Cape calendar.

Falmouth Road Race. A major event on the Cape calendar. Beautiful route. Fills early.  Usually the third Sunday in August.

Cape Cod Marathon. Last weekend in October.

Chatham Harbor Run. Pretty 10k along the water. Has been run for 35+ years.

Harwich Cranberry Harvest Half & 10k. October. One of a trilogy of half marathons, along with the Johnny Kelly Half (spring) and the Hyannis Half (winter)

Johnny Kelly Half (also 10k & 5k). May. Hyannis.

Hyannis Marathon & Half. February.

Brewster Brew Run. August. Fun 5.2 mile race followed by a big party at The Woodshed

Seagull Six.  March. Put on by the Falmouth Track Club. A scenic and hilly loop, the last three miles of which are the first three miles of the Falmouth Road Race course backwards, including the hill at Nobska Light.

 

 

Cape Cod Athletic Club: Winter Grand Prix, social events, race calendar

Falmouth Track Club: annual races all year, weekly track workouts, group runs

Falmouth Road Race: Lottery in May, race every August – a Cape Cod must!

South Shore Race Management: calendar of annual races

Plymouth Rock Racing: race events for the whole family