Old Colony Rail Trail, Cape Cod MA


• 4-star trail
• 7.5 miles each way
• Easy difficulty | Easy-moderate elevation
• Harwich to Chatham, MA | Cape Cod
• Driving Directions: Marked on map


Old Colony Rail Trail ends at Chatham, close to Chatham Lighhouse.

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The Old Colony Railroad, named after the old Plymouth colony of European settlers, was once a significant transit system throughout southeastern Massachusetts that also expanded to include steamboats and ferry routes. Somehow the name for a rail network of over 600 miles is now used to identify a 7.5 mile spur of railroad-turned rail trail at the easternmost end of Cape Cod, terminating at Chatham, MA.

Branching off from the Cape Cod Rail Trail at a bicycle rotary in Harwich, the Old Colony Rail Trail is a smooth asphalt trail that winds its way through the light suburban landscape of the peninsula. Passing occasional and beautifully landscaped backyards, the route is mostly abutted by verdant tree and shrub boundaries that offer partial shade. The trail deviates from the old railroad route at a couple of spots - at Thompson Field, and the Chatham Airport - which introduces some small hills, but nothing too severe.

Asphalt, Bike Lane, Road, No Access, Parking Expand Map

Old Colony Rail Trail 4★
7.5 miles each way, Easy, Gain 220 ft
Trailspotting Map: AllTrails
Trailspotting Map: GPX Download
Trailspotting Map: Google Earth KMZ

Around the airport expect a 0.3 mile bike lane that is part road gutter on a moderately busy road, and part sidewalk. Between the airport and Chatham there's also a 0.6 mile section of road biking but that's along a quiet residential street that is unlikely to raise any safety concerns. Also located on this road section is White Pond Beach, which is short on beach but has a great water access for those looking to cool off.

The rail trail ends unceremoniously at Crowell Road. The old rail line used to continue for a further half-mile through what is not the back of a cemetery, but it does end at the former railroad passenger depot that is now the Chatham Railroad Museum. However Be advised that the museum is only open for three months each year - from mid June to mid September.


The Harwich bicycle rotary connects with the Cape Cod Rail Trail.

From the end of the rail trail visitors may want to explore the picturesque town of Chatham with its main street lined with shops, art galleries and restaurants. Other attractions around town include lighthouse, the pier fish market and the shark center museum.

Our four star rating of this rail trail is possibly on the generous side because it lacks attractions along its route. However, the trail is well maintained and well appointed with amenities and terminates at a town that is well worth exploring. We also note that there is no obvious parking spot at the east end of the trail, through you will likely have success with residential street parking, or by using one of the spots at the town offices here.

Trail Conditions:
Smooth asphalt trail with a 0.2mi bike lane and a 0.6mi quiet road biking section. Mostly minimal incline, but occasional mild and brief hills when the route deviates from the old railroad alignment.



The Old Colony Rail Trail diverts around the Chatham Airport.


Looking east over North Beach Island from Chatham Lighthouse.

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

Nearby Trails:
• 0 miles away: Cape Cod Rail Trail (4★ 28 miles Easy)
• Show on map: All nearby rail trails

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