Cape Cod Rail Trail, MA

• 4-star trail
• 28.4 mile each way
• Easy difficulty | Easy elevation
• Yarmouth to Wellfleet, MA | Cape Cod
• Driving Directions: Marked on map

The Cape Cod Rail Trail over the Bass River Bridge.

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The Cape Cod Rail Trail is a popular and fully-paved 28 mile rail trail running through the middle of this coastal peninsula from Mid to Outer-Cape. We describe it as one long green woodland corridoor, well appointed with parking lots, bike rental shops and occasional eateries and ice cream shops. We wouldn't describe it as a great way to see Cape Cod however, as the sights along the route are occasional at best. We instead recommend the Shining Sea Rail Trail which offers a first-class Cape Cod bicyling experience.

The original mid-nineteenth century Cape Cod Central Railroad reached as far as Provincetown located on the cape's furthest tip and transformed the whaling and fishing communities into immensely popular summer vacation destinations. The railroad held out for a century before succumbing to road traffic and going bankrupt in the 1970, when it was then converted into a rail trail. The popular rail trail is a great car-free way to move around between towns, and the trail continues to see occasional extensions, most recently the 2019 northern extension to Welfleet Hollow campground.

Asphalt, Bike Lane, Road, Live Rail, Historic. Expand Map

Cape Cod Rail Trail 4★
28.4 miles each way, Easy, Gain 720 ft (700ft E-W)
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails, GPX File

The best scenery on this trail can be found on a central section between Harwich and Orleans as the trail threads between the shores of multiple ponds, including a public beach at Seymour Pond which we've marked on our map. We were also afforded with our only ocean view near Namskaket Marsh, albeit a distant one.

Though the rail trail features several bridges and tunnels, you'll still need to be prepared for around fifty individual road crossings along your journey, each marked with trail-facing stop signs. Thankfully the motorists we encountered on our outing were remarkably considerate of pedestrians and cyclists, but traffic calming infrastructure is mostly non-existent at these potentially dangerous intersections and trail users need to be constantly defensive. Similarly the popularity of the trail requires many interractions between trail users, requiring reduced cyclist speeds and audible warnings when passing.

Taking the dog for a ride.

Seymour Pond and Beach, between Harwich and Orleans.

The Cape Cod Rail Trail also connects with the Old Colony Rail Trail at the bicycle rotary in Harwich. This is a 5.4 mile paved trail that terminates in the town of Chatham, and we have a review of this trail following shortly.

Trail Conditions
Smooth asphalt throughout. Nominally flat with a couple of short gradient spots (see profile). Lots of road crossings.

Harwich's rotary, connecting Cape Cod to Old Colony Rail Trail.

There are many ways to enjoy the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

• External Links: Official, TrailLink, Public Map at AllTrails
• Facebook Group: Comment on this article

Nearby Trails:
• 0 miles away: Old Colony Rail Trail (4★ 7.5mi Easy)
• 14 miles away: Old Colony Nature Pathway
• 19 miles away: Cape Cod Canal Bikeway
• 23 miles away: Shining Sea Rail (5★ 10.6mi Easy)
• Show on map: All nearby rail trails

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