Cape Cod Rail Trail

The Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT) winds through the towns of Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet, before coming to an end near the Cape Cod National Seashore. In all, this trail stretches through Cape Cod for about 22 miles, intersecting with the Old Colony Rail Trail in Harwich and with Nickerson State Park in Brewster.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation opened the CCRT in the 1970s. The paved trail lets people skip the traffic on Route 6A and travel up and down the Cape by bike instead. While not every section of the Cape Cod bike trail offers scenic views, the bike trail winds through many of the historic towns, pastures, and forests that make up inland Cape Cod.

The western trailhead of the CCRT is located on Route 134 in South Dennis, just south of exit 9A on US Route 6. For its first few miles, the trail cuts through the tree-lined streets of industrial Dennis, paralleling the Great Western Road. When the bike trail enters Harwich, the tree-lined streets give way to houses, gardens, and pastures. In Brewster, it weaves between tranquil ponds.

The trail forks in Brewster, giving bicyclists access to Nickerson State Park. In the park, visitors can explore more than 8 miles of paved trails that cut through thick woods and navigate around quiet ponds stocked with trout. For visitors staying in the 1,800-acre park overnight, there’s a large camping area with 400 individual campsites.

After Brewster, the Cape Cod Rail Trail crosses over Namskaket Creek and into Orleans. In Orleans, the trail meets up with Route 6. It briefly follows the highway before diverging towards downtown Orleans, where it passes by restaurants and bike shops. As the trail leaves Orleans, the surrounding forests start to give away to the peninsula’s distinctive coastal pine barrens.

As the trail enters Eastham, it passes by the Boat Meadow Creek salt marsh. This large salt marsh is a favorite with “creek paddling” kayakers. On Locust Road in Eastham, the CCRT intersects with Nauset Bicycle Trail, which leads to Coast Guard Beach. Past this intersection, there are numerous other opportunities to enter Cape Cod National Seashore from the CCRT.

The Cape Cod Rail Trail through the eye of a corrugated tunnel
The Rail Trail passes through the Dunes
The Rail Trail going deep into the woods
The Rail trail over the the Bass River Bridge
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