Biking the Vineyard
Reprinted from the 2004 Visitors Guide courtesy
of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce. www.mvy.com
Many people are surprised to find that Martha's Vineyard is
larger than they think (about 100 square miles), so biking the
entire Island can be quite a challenge. People who are occasional
bikers will find plenty of exercise and wonderful sights by taking
the down-Island route - Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs to Edgartown
and back. This route is mostly flat and easy for children, as
well as adults. More experienced riders can bike to Aquinnah.
However, depending on the route, it can cover more that 20 miles
each way. Additionally the terrain can be hilly and the roadway
curvy. There are no bike paths or streetlights for the major
part of this route. Some easier options are to bus up and bike
back or to use West Tisbury as your starting point.
Starting from Vineyard Haven: From the Steamship Authority dock,
proceed straight up Union Street one block to Main Street, turn
right on Main and proceed out of the central shopping district.
Bike Main Street out to West Chop (2 miles) to see the West Chop
Lighthouse and the summer houses. The road makes a lazy loop
just past the lighthouse, and returns you to Vineyard Haven center.
For a good view of the Vineyard Haven Harbor along a level bike
path, take the Beach Road from Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs.
(3.3 miles). When you get into Oak Bluffs, just past Sunset Lake
on your right (at the foot of a hill on New York Avenues leading
into town), turn right onto Dikes Country Avenue and then bear
to the left to enter the Methodist Campgrounds. Ride around the
charming circle of cottages and view the impressive wrought iron
Tabernacle. Exit by the Wesley Hotel, the last of the grand hotels
in Oak Bluffs, turn right and park your bike near the Flying
Horses Carousel, the nation's oldest continuously operating carousel.
Take a ride and try for the brass ring. And take some time to
look around; you are now in the heart of Oak Bluffs. On one side
of the Flying Horses is Circuit Avenue, where you can enjoy an
exciting variety of shops and on the other side is the harbor,
where you can enjoy more refreshments and shopping.
If you continue past the Flying Carousel straight toward the
ocean, you come to Seaview Avenue, which runs along the water
past Ocean Park, with its famous gazebo and a circle of elegant
Victorian summer homes. Biking on Seaview Avenue from Oak Bluffs
to Edgartown (6 miles), you quickly come to a paved, off-road
bike path along the Joseph Sylvia State Beach. The fantastic
view from this path is what biking the Vineyard is all about.
Park and sun for a while. Follow the Beach Road to Upper Main
Street in Edgartown, just beyond the Edgartown Triangle. Just
before you enter Main Street, traffic signs will direct you down
Pease's Point Way on your left. You can park your bike here for
a walk through historic Edgartown.
Beautiful whaling captains' homes line the streets of Edgartown.
Main Street, with its elegant shops, ends at the harbor, where
you can enjoy a picnic lunch, either purchased in town or prepared
A short ferry ride on the On-Time Ferry (leaving from the Edgartown
dock) will take you to Chappaquiddick, where you can bike to
Wasque Beach two miles away, a beautiful spot for a swim or sunbathing.
You can visit the My Toi preserve, a beautifully maintained Japanese
Time to head back to your accommodation to get ready for dinner
or back to the ferry for the trip home.
For the more physically fit and adventurous, the trip up-Island
through West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah is a challenge,
but well worth the effort. From Edgartown, take the West Tisbury
Road to West Tisbury Center (4 miles), marked by Alley's General
Store (a great place to stop for a drink and a snack), the Field
Gallery, and the recently restored Grange Hall. Continue on South
Road to Beetlebung Corner (5.4 miles), the center of Chilmark.
Turn tight and ride on to Menemsha (1.5 miles), the Island's
small fishing village, where you can see the daily hauls of fish
brought in by Island fishermen and buy fresh fish off the docks
at two fish markets, Poole's and Larsen's. At the very end of
the road, there is parking for the Menemsha public beach. There
are also public bathrooms in Menemsha for that all-important
pit stop. In Menemsha, you can take a rest and still get to Aquinnah
with the bike water shuttle that operates in the summer.
The Gay Head Cliffs are not to be missed. The cliffs are a National
Landmark and were formed 10,000 years ago as millions of toms
of till and huge rocks were dumped on a base of tertiary sands,
gravels, and clays when the glaciers retreated. The very foundation
of the Island is exposed at Aquinnah in the magnificent colored
clay cliffs. Many of the brilliant colors of the cliffs - reds,
blues, greens, and ochres - have been washed into the sea by
the constant action of the water.
Time to head back down-Island. Take State Road from Aquinnah
to Beetlebung Corner (6.5 miles). On your way to Beetlebung Corner,
stop and catch the view on top of the hill above Quitsa. You
can see across Menemsha Pond to Menemsha Harbor. For a view of
beautiful Vineyard vistas as you ride down a tree-canopied road,
continue straight at Beetlebung Corner and take Middle Road to
Music Street in West Tisbury (5.4 miles), so named because a
number of the whaling captains who built their homes here in
the last century bought pianos for their homes. In the summer,
with the windows opened, the music would drift out into the street.
Turn left from Music Street to State Road. Continue on State
Road toward Vineyard Haven (9 miles). In West Tisbury, about
a mile off State Road, you can stop and visit Chicama Vineyards,
the Island's winery, take a tour of their wine-making facility,
and taste some their excellent wines. Just before you reach the
Vineyard Haven business district, you will pass the Tashmoo Overlook
on your left, with a lovely view of Lake Tashmoo and Vineyard
Sound. State Road ends in Vineyard Haven, where you can catch
the ferry or stop to catch your breath before your evening begins.