In addition to being a preeminent navigation project, the Cape Cod Canal offers an amazing variety of recreational opportunities. Explore below to discover how much there really is to do at the Cape Cod Canal!
Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers welcomes the public to the Cape Cod Canal Visitor Center, which is open seasonally from May to October. Explore the rich history, fascinating features, and vigilant operation of the Cape Cod Canal and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Visitor Center features include a retired 41-foot U.S. Army Corps of Engineers patrol boat, a 46-seat theater showing continuous DVD presentations on Canal History, Canal Critters, and Canal Wildflowers, real time radar and camera images of the waterway as well as a variety of interactive exhibits for all ages. The rocking chairs located on the deck outside the building provide a perfect spot to enjoy the sea breeze while watching ships transit the Canal. Corps Park Rangers staff the Visitor Center and provide free public programs on a variety of subjects. Tide charts, Canal guides and brochures are also available.
Multiple Canal access points along both sides of the Canal have been developed into Recreation Areas equipped with restrooms, picnic areas and parking lots. View our Recreation Map to locate the various recreation areas along the Canal and what is offered at each.
Midway Recreation Area is a beautiful wooded area, ideal for families, offering individual and group picnic options with charcoal grills, volleyball and more. Midway has a large picnic pavilion with grills, tables, and a fireplace that can be reserved for group functions at no cost; for more information call Park Ranger Ann Cook 978-318-8531 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Biking and Walking
Service roads which parallel both sides of the Canal are available for bicycling, jogging and walking. Each service road is approximately seven-miles long. Benches are placed along the service roads for the enjoyment of our visitors. See our recreation map for access locations recreation map for access locations. View our Cape Cod Canal Self-Guided Bike/Hike and Service Road Safety Guidelines under Project Documents.
The Canal provides a unique, close-up view of ocean going ships and tugs underway as they utilize the canal route between Cape Cod Bay and Buzzards Bay. Cruise lines, cargo ships and jumbo car carriers can be seen from the Canal banks. From the simple lines of a working harbor tug to the sleek look of a luxury yacht, the Canal provides a continuous parade of vessels to observe and enjoy.
Fishing is permitted from the Canal banks in all areas except Massachusetts Maritime Academy and the Canal Administration area in Buzzards Bay. Caution is advised as the rip rap slopes can be slippery. Access point for handicap fishing is available at the Sandwich bulkhead area and the Scusset Beach fishing pier. Salt water fishing and lobstering are subject to state regulations and licensing.
Saltwater anglers in Massachusetts are required to purchase a Recreational Saltwater Fishing Permit. For more details and to obtain a permit visit the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries website.
*** Please note: The taking of herring and alewives at the Bournedale Herring Run by any means is strictly prohibited until further notice. In response to recent drastic declines of many river herring spawning runs, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has prohibited the harvest, possession or sale of herring statewide under CMR 322.6.17. ***
If adequately powered, recreational vessels may transit the Canal. Sailing in the Canal is prohibited; sailboats must use auxiliary power during Canal passage. All boaters should familiarize themselves with the Canal's changing currents prior to attempting Canal transit. In a restricted channel such as the Cape Cod Canal, smaller vessels should stay to the right and give way to the larger commercial vessel traffic.
For more safety tips and regulations on boating in the Canal, view our Recreational Boating Guide.
Swimming and scuba diving are prohibited in the Canal due to its swift current. A swimming beach on Cape Cod Bay is available at Scusset Beach State Reservation.
The Bournedale Hills Trail extends 1.4 miles along the north side of the Canal from Bourne Scenic Park to the Herring Run. The trail includes a .8 mile self guided loop which interprets the Canal's historic and natural features.
Within Scusset Beach State Reservation the .7 mile trail to Sagamore Hill provides access to an area that was once a Native American Indian meeting ground and later the site of a World War II Coastal Fortification. The top of Sagamore Hill commands a view of the Canal's east entrance and Cape Cod Bay.
Trailer and tent camping areas are provided on Canal lands at two locations, on the north side of the Canal. Under a long term lease agreement with the Corps of Engineers, Bourne Scenic Park is operated by the Bourne Recreation Authority. The park offers facilities for both tent and recreational vehicle camping.
Another long term lease has been issued by the Corps of Engineers to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for operation of Scusset Beach State Reservation. Located on the east end of the Canal, Scusset Beach State Reservation has camp sites for recreation vehicles.
The East Boat Basin located on the south side of the Canal in Sandwich has slips for recreational and commercial vessels. The area is leased by the Corps of Engineers to the Town of Sandwich.
On a fee basis, boaters may utilize the marina's slips or boat ramp. On the west end of the Canal the Buttermilk Bay channel provides boaters access to the Taylor Point Marina, which is owned by the Town of Bourne.
Canal Park Rangers offer a host of interpretive programs designed for various ages and interests. They include guided walks and tours, bike hikes, evening presentations, junior ranger programs, special events and more. Programs are generally offered spring, summer and fall. Click here for a list of upcoming scheduled programs and events.
Park Rangers are also available to present programs on the Canal’s engineered and natural history, its unique features and its marine operations to school, civic, and scouting groups upon request. Please email Park Ranger Samantha Gray or call (508) 759-4431 ext. 622 if you would like to schedule a presentation at the Canal or at your school/facility.
The Cape Cod Canal’s Outreach Program offers a combination of in-school and field trip learning opportunities for grades 3 and 4. The program introduces the Canal and its surroundings in a manner which makes the waterway relevant to the lives of the children in the program. It covers a variety of topics from the history of the Canal to navigation, to protection of natural resources, and engineering. We touch on many of the learning standards found in the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks that can serve as a catalyst for class discussion, a review of topics discussed in class or as additional detail to the curriculum that you have already taught. The following is a list of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks that correspond with the Cape Cod Canal Outreach Program.
- History and Social Science Curriculum Frameworks: 3.1, 3.3, 3.5, 3.9, 3.14, 4.10, 4.12
- Comprehensive Health Curriculum Frameworks: 13.2
- Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks and the Supplement to the Mathematics Curriculum Framework Grades 3, 5 & 7: 3.N.8, 3.N.10, 3.M.2, 4.N.3, 4.N.10 , 4.P.4 , 4.M.1, 4.M.2
- Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework:
- Earth and Space Science : Earth’s History 12
- Life Science (Biology) : Adaptations of Living Things:7, 8
- Technology and Engineering: 1.3, 2.1
For more information on Outreach Programs, contact email@example.com or (978) 318-8636.