Most would agree that the most popular of the bicycling trails on Cape Cod is the Cape Rail Trail.
While a few portions of the Rail Trail are not especially splendid, it being, after all, a railroad grade which frequently served the business areas of the towns, most sections are quite beautiful, and some parts bring you to simply spectacular Cape scenery. Highlights of the Rail Trail include the famous cranberry bogs in Harwich, particulary beautiful in the fall, the sunny views at Long Pond and Seymour Pond near the historic Pleasant Lake Store, also in Harwich, and the adjoining Salt Pond Bike Trail and Visitor Center in Eastham. In Brewster, the trail goes right to Nickerson State Park with its own bike trails, its campgrounds, picnic areas, ponds for swimming, and thousands of acres of woodlands. Rock Harbor in Orleans, a busy port for traffic to Boston in the 1800's, offers an historical perspective as well as stunning views of Cape Cod Bay. It is just a short distance north of the trail in Orleans center. And of course, Orleans center itself is a great place to rest, shop, and dine. And not to be missed are the sights along the trail in Eastham and Wellfleet. Several outstanding beaches are accessible by short side routes from the Rail Trail in this area.
Initially constructed in 1983, the Cape Cod Rail Trail for more than 20 years extended from Route 134 in South Dennis to Lecount Hollow Road in South Wellfleet, running much of the length of Cape Cod in the mid-Cape and lower-Cape. During 2006-2007, reconstruction of the Rail Trail from Route 134 in Dennis to Welfleet vastly upgraded the already-famous trail. Recent construction in 2017 opened the trail further west to South Dennis with new primary parking in Dennis at 495 Main Street in South Dennis and additional parking on Route 134 in South Dennis. A biking and pedestrian bridge over Route 134 allows bicyclists to safely cross the busy highway, so parking at 495 Main Street allows you to easily bike the full length of the trail in Dennis. See the map below for exact directions to parking on Main Street in South Dennis.
Additional construction work completed in 2018 extended the trail even further west, joining with the current Yarmouth Bike Trail. The Rail Trail now runs from its new start in South Yarmouth all the way to South Wellfleet. The key work involved building a new bridge over Bass River, which now replaces the old "railroad bridge" that had been there since the 1800's. There are gorgeous views of Bass River from the new bridge (George Allaire Bridge), and there is an observation platform there as well. With the new bridge and trail extensions, the primary Rail Trail parking is now at Old Town House Road and at Station Avenue (Route 6 Exit 8 in Yarmouth). The Yarmouth Trail that goes west from Old Town House Road and then through Cranberry Hills Golf Course and adjacent woodlands is also now connected to the Rail Trail. Plans are now underway to extend the Rail Trail about 2 miles further north from South Wellfleet toward Wellfleet Center.
Gorgeous lake and cranberry bog views, woodlands, Nickerson State Park, and the National Park are right along the trail. From Yarmouth to Wellfleet, there are things to see and do along the Rail Trail, from great views to quiet beaches to lots of food! In any of the towns that the trail passes through, you can venture Just a short distance off the trail itself to find many places to eat, to shop, to swim, or just to enjoy the scenery of the Cape. The Cape Cod Rail Trail has become a "must-do" for bicyclists on the Cape
Biking on the Rail Trail is generally quite easy, but be wary of the high volumes of bicycling traffic and of automobiles at the many cross roads. Because of this, stay with your children and be sure to walk, not ride, across main roads. Try not to be tempted to set distance records. Instead, use our Cape Cod Bike Book and try to really stop to see some of the things along the Trail. Relax and enjoy the laid-back nature of Cape Cod!
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