Old Colony Rail Trail


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Old Colony Rail Trail Facts

States: Massachusetts
Counties: Barnstable
Length: 8 miles
Trail end points: Cape Cod Rail Trail northeast of Main St. (Harwich) and Depot Rd. and Hitching Post Rd. (Chatham)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015844
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking

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Old Colony Rail Trail Description

The Old Colony Rail Trail offers a scenic recreational route through the charming towns of southeastern Cape Cod. The trail, which occupies an abandoned Old Colony Railroad corridor, stretches from downtown Chatham to a unique trail roundabout with the much longer Cape Cod Rail Trail in Harwich.

Visitors to the Old Colony Rail Trail might be surprised to learn that they will be biking, running or walking almost exclusively through quiet and dense woodlands, while they are in the heart of one of the most popular tourist destinations in New England. The Lower Cape’s crowded beaches are always out of sight, making a trip on the trail a nice respite from both the sundrenched coast and sunburned vacationers.

The trail deviates from the former railroad corridor in a couple of places. Most notably, trail users will need to continue onto the bike lanes on George Ryder Road for a short distance to maneuver around Chatham Municipal Airport. The route is clearly marked. The trail also shares lightly-traveled Wilfred Road with vehicular traffic between the eastern edge of the airport and Old Queen Anne Road. In Chatham, trail users should continue onto Tipcart Drive and Hitching Post Road to access the downtown area.

Be sure to stop in at the Chatham Railroad Museum, located in the restored 1887 railroad station on Depot Road. The museum is free, but donations are recommended and encouraged.

Parking and Trail Access

Limited parking for the Old Colony Rail Trail is available at the Chatham Railroad Museum on Depot Road in Chatham. Additional parking can be found in Chatham at Veterans Field off Main Street/State Route 28 (behind the Chatham Community Center) and at Chatham Middle School (the former Chatham High School) on Crowell Road.

Farther west, parking can be found at White Pond Beach on Wilfred Road and in front of Chatham Municipal Airport on George Ryder Road. A short spur trail leads to additional parking at Volunteer Park on Sam Ryder Road. In South Chatham, park at the dedicated parking lot off SR 137 just north of SR 28. In Harwich, Brooks Park offers a parking lot off Oak Street.

Old Colony Rail Trail Reviews

Great trail, mostly flat and very scenic.

We started our ride in Dennis on the Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT). Once we hit the bike rotary around the 3 mile mark, we got onto the Old Colony. At this point, you can also continue on the CCRT. The scenery on this trail changes from cranberry bogs to ponds to forest in 8 short miles. There are many road crossings and some road riding. Road crossings are well marked and easy to follow. Services along the trail, like food and restrooms, are also well marked. The trail is reasonably flat with some small hills on the latter part. The trail ends near the old Chatham train depot, which is now a museum. NB: The museum doesn't open until mid-June.

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