OLD COLONY RAIL TRAIL SOUTH:

CHATHAM-HARWICH, MASSACHUSETTS

-BIKE IT OR HIKE IT-

Last Updated:       July 10, 2011

Length:                 Old Colony Rail Trail; 7.5 miles 

                               Chatham Loop; 4.4 miles

Difficulty:             Old Colony Rail Trail; Easy. Mostly flat paved rail trail with some small hills.

                               Chatham Loop; Moderate. On-road along some hilly and narrow roads. Not recommended for kids on bikes.

Directions:     

To Start from the Cape Cod Rail Trail Bike Rotary;  From Route 6 take exit 9A to Route 134 south. The Cape Cod Rail Trail parking lot is located on the left just past Theophilis Smith Rd. Travel east along the Cape Cod Rail Trail. When you come to the Bike Rotary after 3 1/4 miles, continue straight along the Old Colony Rail Trail.  

To start from the old Chatham Depot in Chatham; From Route 6 take exit 11 to Route 137 south to East Harwich. Turn left onto Old Queen Ann Rd and follow to Route 28 (Main St). Turn left and travel to the major intersection and bare left on Depot Rd. You can park at the Depot Museum, on-road or at the park on your right. 

Before the first railroad tracks were laid, the Cape was a relatively isolated area, accessible only by packet boat or stagecoach. By 1848, the Old Colony Railroad Company laid tracks that connected Boston and Sandwich. Railroad track extensions continued and by 1873, Old Colony had linked Boston with Cape Codís outermost point of Provincetown. The Cape Cod Rail Trail follows this former railroad right-of-way for 22 miles through the towns of Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham and Wellfleet. A spur off the main line to Chatham from Harwich along the Old Colony Railroad bed is now the Old Colony Rail Trail. Operated by the Chatham RR Company, the line was built in 1887 and leased first to the Old Colony RR and then to the NY, NH & Hartford RR in 1893 before discontinuing service in 1937.

Starting from the Cape Cod Rail Trail Bike Rotary in Harwich; From the Bike Rotary, which contains a map board and benches continue straight (east) along the paved Old Colony Rail Trail. The Cape Cod Rail Trail bares left (north). This trail starts out well shaded like the Cape Cod Rail Trail, but becomes more open as you travel. It also contains many small hills that may be hard on young bike riders. Travel past the Island Pond Cemetery before crossing Pleasant Lake Ave. A map board is located here and at most road crossings. The trail then follows alongside Old Colony Rd before crossing Oak St and past the Brooks Park parking lot at 0.9 miles. After a small rotary at 1.3 miles you'll cross Orleans-Harwich Rd. Pass by a picnic area on your left in the Scrub Pine at 1.9 miles. Cross Depot Rd at 2.8 miles and Morton Rd at 3.6 miles. You'll notice mile markers painted on the trail. These represent the distance from Crowell Rd, the start of the trail in Chatham. After crossing Meetinghouse Rd and Sam Ryder Rd you'll come to a spur trail on the left at 4.7 miles that takes you to the Volunteer Park parking lot. Come to George Ryder Rd at 5.3 where you'll find a large map board and picnic tables. This is the start of a short on-road section. Head right following a bike lane along George Ryder Rd past the Chatham Airport. You'll really start to feel the ocean breeze at this point. After only a 1/4 mile, you cross the road and are back on the paved trail as it takes you around the airports perimeter. At 6 1/4 miles you'll come to another on-road section along residential Wilfred Rd. Pass by access to White Pond Beach on your right and past Emery Pond on your left before crossing Old Queen Ann Rd and returning to the paved path at 6.9 miles alongside Stepping Stones Rd. After passing by Peoples Cemetery you'll come to the end of the trail after 7.5 miles next to Crowell Road. Large map board located here.

Note; You may continue your trip on-road in and around Chatham. Crowell Rd is part of a scenic bike route that you'll find marked on the map below. We utilized part of that route, but also detoured out to the old Chatham RR Depot & Museum and into downtown Chatham for grub. We looped back to this trailhead after checking out Chatham Lighthouse. A 4.4 mile loop. The scenic bike loop is much longer. On-road routes may not be suitable for kids on bikes.

Starting from Crowell Road and heading into Chatham; Head right along Crowell Rd and utilize the two crosswalks to head left up Tipcart Dr which is on-road. Turn right on Hitching post Rd and follow to Depot Rd. Veterans Field is straight ahead where you'll also find a map board. Head left on Depot Rd and just past the Fire Dept will be the old 1887 Chatham Depot at a 1/2 mile which is now the Chatham RR Museum. See; CHATHAM RR MUSEUM . An old 1910 NY Central wooden caboose is located behind the museum. After visiting the museum continue along Depot Rd out to Old Harbor Rd (Route 28). Chatham Cycle on your left. See; CHATHAM CYCLE . Turn right down narrow Old Harbor Rd and then left on Main St. Lots of shops and restaurants along Main St. Parked cars along both sides, so not much room to maneuver. You reach Shore Rd at 1.5 miles. Continue right along Main St and you'll come to Chatham Lighthouse on the right at 2 miles. Beach below on your left. Bike racks and a Porto-potty are located here. Continue along Main St and immediately turn right on Bridge St. Cross Mitchell River Draw Bridge at 2.5 miles at Stage Harbor. Turn right up Stage Harbor Rd and you'll pass by the Atwood House Museum at 3.1 miles. After passing by Oyster Pond Beach (restrooms & picnic tables here) turn left up Pond St, then left along Queen Ann Rd. You'll come to the intersection of Main St, Depot Rd and Crowell Rd at 4 miles. Continue straight up Crowell Rd past Seaside Cemetery and return to the Old Colony Rail Trail after a 4.4 mile loop. 

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CLICK HERE FOR CAPE COD RAIL TRAIL MAP

CLICK HERE FOR OLD COLONY RAIL TRAIL MAP

 

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WAIVER OF RESPONSIBILITY AND DISCLAIMER

 

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