Wing Pond and Cranberry Bog

For your safety, please proceed off the bikeway before reading about this view!

Wing Pond and Cranberry Bog

West Falmouth Cranberry Bog and Bittersweet | Photo: Paula T. Smith

The dynamic and delicate ecosystems seen from the Bikeway have much to tell us about the interrelationships in nature. As the glacier receded, terrestrial ecosystems sprouted, beginning with pioneers such as lichens and grasses. Today the Cape boasts a wide variety of plants including cranberries and birches that are more characteristic of cooler areas to the north and pines and oaks like warmer lands to the south. These Cape Cod environments still maintain globally unique and rare plant species. Woodlands in the hummocky topography are home to White and Pitch Pine, an expansive variety of oak, Sassafras, and shrubs (such as the white flowering Viburnum), herbaceous plants (like Sweet Fern), and ground covers such as the rare Trailing Arbutus that boasts fragrant pink and white flowers. Be alert for shiny green leaves of poison ivy but do not touch it!1

Falmouth has a rich agricultural heritage, including crops, cattle and sheep-raising, and corn-grinding mills. During the mid-1800s the surface of Cape Cod was cleared for timber and to provide pastureland. From the Bikeway, look for rock walls that separated pastures, and try to find the seven cattle tunnels that cross underneath the Bikeway. Cranberries – plants whose native habitat was low-lying troughs between dunes, where the groundwater table was exposed – were essential to the Wampanoag diet and are now cultivated in carefully maintained bogs. One such bog can be viewed from the Bikeway near Mile Marker 9 in West Falmouth. This privately-owned site is one of the oldest cultivated and working cranberry bogs in Falmouth, on the Cape, and in Massachusetts, dating to the 1860s.2

The soil-rich heartland of Falmouth was in the villages of East Falmouth, Hatchville, Teaticket, and Waquoit, where Wampanoag, English, Quaker, African American, Cape Verdean, and Portuguese lived and worked. In addition to the turnips, beets, broccoli, corn, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and assorted greens grown here, strawberries, became the town’s largest agricultural enterprise and main cash crop at the turn of the last century (1900). However, by 1986, less than 15 acres of strawberries continued to be cultivated, a decline due in part to the scarcity of farm workers, younger people having less interest in farming, and increasing urbanization.3 2

Cow Tunnel | Photo: Paula T. Smith
Bikeway Sign | Photo: Paula T. Smith


  1. "The Shining Sea Bikeway: A Path Through the Natural History and Cultural Heritage of Falmouth on Cape Cod." Bicycle and Pedestrian Committee, Town of Falmouth, Massachusetts, version 2009,
  2. "The Shining Sea Bikeway: A Path Through the Natural History and Cultural Heritage of Falmouth on Cape Cod."