Cape Cod Rail Trail
GOOD FOR: All Ages
RATING:


Source:Outdoors with Kids Boston (AMC Books)
Address:50 Doane Road, Eastham, MA
Hours:Dawn to dusk daily
Fee: Free
Contact:

mass.gov/dcr; 508-896-3491
 

Bathrooms: At the visitor center
Water/Snacks: Water fountain at the visitor center
Map:

This 22-mile trail is idyllic for bicyclists, with scenic beach views and easy riding.

Leave time for detours to historic lighthouses near the Cape Cod Rail Trail.
Photo by: Kim Foley MacKinnon

For bikers and beach lovers, it doesn’t get much better than the Cape Cod Rail Trail. The 22-mile paved trail on a former railroad right-of-way has few hills, is great for kids learning to ride or parents with kids in tow, and passes by multiple stopping points for food, beaches, and historic sites. If you pack a picnic, you can stop at one of the great spots to enjoy the view while you eat. Along the route, you’ll pass through or by woods, marshes, cranberry bogs, and ponds. When snow covers the trail, take out your cross-country skis and experience the route on a different self-powered mode of transit.

The trail, open to walkers, runners, and horseback riders, passes through the towns of Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham, and Wellfleet. Public restrooms can be found at Nickerson State Park in Brewster, Salt Pond Visitor Center at Cape Cod National Seashore in Eastham, and the National Seashore Headquarters in Wellfleet.

Since there are several places to gain access to the trail, you can consider your riding companions and plan accordingly. Is a short trek to a beach your best bet? A long ride with a picnic at the end? Or would you like to play it by ear? All are easy enough to do, and several places where you can stop to rest or refuel are available along the way. A number of side trails lead off the main trail. Nickerson State Park, near the trail’s midpoint, is a great base for cyclists who want to spend more time in the area. The park offers 400 campsites, swimming, paddling, and fishing.

Remember: The trailhead for the rail trail is 0.5 mile away from the visitor center. A 1.6-mile bike trail also starts at the visitor center and goes to Coast Guard Beach. Several places to rent bikes are near the trail. Visit capecodbike guide.com for a list.

Plan B:

The Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary (Trip 70), a Mass Audubon property right along the seashore, offers lovely trails and wildlife exhibits.

Where to Eat Nearby:

A number of casual beach shack restaurants are along US 6. The trail also passes through downtown Orleans, where you can find a nice ice cream shop.



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