The Cape Cod Rail Trail (CCRT) is a paved bikeway that runs 25 miles from South Dennis to Wellfleet. The terrain is relatively flat with some minor grades in certain sections in the Lower / Outer Cape areas, specifically Orleans and Wellfleet. It easily offers the greatest variety in scenery and natural landscapes of all the regional bike paths.
The trail now stretches from South Yarmouth all the way to Lecount Hollow Road in South Wellfleet. The name stems from an old railroad right of way it follows from the original trailhead in South Dennis, which transported passengers and freight to Cape Cod in the early 1800s until around 1960. The CCRT is managed by the MA Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR). It passes by many local points of interest and several kettle ponds in recreational areas including Nickerson State Park in Brewster.
The CCRT is a safe and enjoyable way to spend a Cape Cod summer day. Traveling through the towns of Yarmouth, Dennis, Harwich, Brewster, Orleans, Eastham and Wellfleet, its smoothly paved surface (akin to gravel asphalt) makes the path ideal for cyclists, walkers, inline skaters and runners. Bike rentals are also available at various bike shops conveniently located directly on the trail in Yarmouth, Dennis, Brewster, Orleans and Wellfleet.
Several CCRT improvement projects have been completed since 2002, including construction of the Harwich bike bridge between exits 9A/B and 10 over Route 6. That structure links a former trail gap between Headwaters Drive and Queen Anne Rd. A second bridge was also built in Orleans to bypass the dangerous 2-mile roadway stretch between Main St. and Rock Harbor Rd. In 2004, the path was connected to Chatham by a newly built spur called the Old Colony Trail (Old Colony Trail PDF Map), which runs 4.25 miles from the Harwich bike rotary to Depot Rd. near downtown.
During 2005-2007, a 12-mile section on the CCRT main trail between Brewster and Wellfleet (plus adjacent parking lots) underwent repaving. New landscaping / improvements were also installed at key intersections. These include a 20-foot retaining wall at the Pleasant Bay General Store, granite benches, picnic tables, new trail map signage, mile markers, traffic warning beacons, curbing, fencing, and guardrails. This rejuvenation was completed at a cost of $6.3 million.
During Winter 2015, the towns of Dennis and Yarmouth began construction on a new extension for the CCRT. This project adds bridges to cross over Route 134 in S. Dennis and Station Ave. in S. Yarmouth, plus 3.7 miles of new paved path.
Phase I construction is over, with both road spans having been completed as of November 2017. An overflow parking lot for S. Dennis was also built where the original Town Hall once stood on Old Bass River Rd. Additionally, the Station Ave. bridge has a brand new parking area with facilities adjacent to Yarmouth Commons shopping plaza.
Phase I project costs were $7.3 million. Phase II is estimated to be $3.7 million for the Bass River bridge connecting new trail sections between S. Dennis and Yarmouth. As of this update, dredging and foundation work are finished. Crews are currently drilling to install pilings to support the metal span. Construction is scheduled to finish by Summer 2018.
Phase III will connect Peter Homer Park on Old Town House Rd. in Yarmouth to Mary Dunn Rd. in Barnstable. This planned section includes a bike bridge over Willow St. plus crossings at Forest and West Yarmouth roads. It extends the existing town trail from Peter Homer Park to Higgins Crowell Rd. Scheduled to open in 2022, the new path will also add an 80-space trailhead parking lot north of the Higgins Crowell Rd. roundabout in W. Yarmouth.
Parking & Directions
The CCRT starts at the S. Dennis trailhead parking area, conveniently located just minutes from Route 6 on Route 134. Get off at Exit 9A and head south on Route 134 past Patriots Square plaza and Cumberland Farms. About 1/2 mile down from the exit you’ll see a sign and parking lot on the left – turn here for the trail entrance.