The Beach Times

Riding the Old Colony Rail Trail
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, September 30, 2019


Old Colony Rail Trail

While the Cape Cod Rail Trail gets most of the attention, there is another pathway that provides an excellent ride through some scenic parts of the Cape. The Old Colony Rail Trail runs from Harwich to Chatham, and if you're strategic about planning your route, you can make it all the way to Chatham Harbor on your bike. You'll also find some great places to stop along the way, should you want to have a bite to eat or explore some local Cape Cod shops.

Here is more information on how you can navigate the Old Colony Rail Trail

 

About the Trail

The Old Colony Rail Trail is completely paved and sits on the route of a former railroad. It's about eight miles long, making it possible to complete the entire thing in a single ride. While much of the trail is self-contained, there are sections where you'll cross or enter a road. Therefore, it's essential to be aware of traffic when you reach those segments. You'll also have to ride along the road for a short distance if you want to reach Chatham Harbor because the trail ends just before the water.

 

The Route You'll Take

The Old Colony Rail Trail doesn't have an official western trailhead. If you need somewhere to park on the west end of the trail, there are spaces along Depot Street in Harwich, not to be confused with Depot Road in South Harwich, that are for the Cape Cod Rail Trail. You'll then have to ride on the Cape Cod Rail Trail for a short distance before coming to a fork that is marked by a statue. Head right at the statue to start on the Old Colony Rail Trail. If you aren't concerned about completing the entire trail, you can start your ride on Pleasant Lake Avenue in Harwich. There is a parking lot here, along with a rental service, if you didn't bring your bike on your Cape Cod vacation.

Now that you're on the trail, you'll head through some residential neighborhoods in Harwich Center, also passing Brooks Park. The residential areas slowly begin getting less dense, taking you into a forest as you exit Harwich Center on your way to South Harwich. Before you reach South Harwich, you'll notice that the trail changes direction slightly. That's because you're now heading south instead of east. There's another residential neighborhood in South Harwich before you come into South Chatham.

Things get a little more interesting in South Chatham because you'll pass a few restaurants and shops. If you're just looking for a quick snack, Short 'n' Sweet Ice Cream is right on the trail after crossing Meetinghouse Road, and there are a few shops to check out just south of the path. Continuing through South Chatham, you'll go through another forested area before coming out at Chatham Municipal Airport.

The airport is where things get confusing because it appears as though the trail ends. This is not the case, however, as the Old Colony actually continues on the other side.To get there, you'll head south on George Ryder Road for 0.3 miles. The road has a bike lane, making it an easy journey. When you see the crosswalk head left and you're back on the trail.

The next section of the Old Colony Rail Trail loops around the airport before heading north and then east. After the airport, however, you should be aware that you're now on Wilfred Road, which is shared with motor vehicles. The bike path re-forms when Wilfred Road turns into Stepping Stones Road.

 

The End of the Trail

After the reformation of the separate bike trail, you'll pass Monomoy RMS Baseball Field before heading south. This south-heading section is the final part of the Old Colony Rail Trail, as it comes out right by Branches Grill and Cafe.

You don't have to end your journey here, however, because there are a couple of roads on which you can continue. Start by heading south on Crowell Road until you reach the crosswalk. There, you'll see Tip Cart Drive, which has some signs that mark it as a bike route.

To stay on the official bike route, follow Tip Cart Drive to its end and take a right on Hitching Post Road. This road will then take you to Veterans Field, which is the end of the sanctioned route. You can take a left on Depot Road, a right on Highland Avenue, and another left on Seaview Avenue, however, to reach the ocean. Keep in mind that cars park along Seaview Avenue, however, making it quite narrow for cyclists.

Your other option is to take the first left off of Tip Cart Drive onto Barcliff Avenue. While this road isn't designed with cyclists in mind, it has a shoulder and will take you directly to the Chatham Pier. You'll also pass some of the most impressive houses on Cape Cod along the way.

Once you're on the water, you'll have all kinds of entertainment options to check out before turning around and heading back to your vehicle, especially since you're just a few blocks from downtown Chatham.

 

A Different Way to Ride

If the Cape Cod Rail Trail seems a bit long or doesn't visit the areas of the Cape that you wish to explore, it's nice to know that you have the Old Colony Rail Trail, as well. As a visitor to Cape Cod, you'll probably want to see as much of the region as possible, and this trail provides an excellent way to experience parts of Harwich and Chatham that you'd otherwise miss.



Bike Paths Chatham Harwich Old Colony Rail Trail

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