Thursday, July 5, 2007

Time to Hit the (Rail) Trail!

I’ve hesitated to write about the Cape Cod Rail Trail as a family attraction because it’s been done. A lot.

But at the risk of giving the CCRT just a bit more ink, or pixels, this is not your father’s Rail Trail. On June 21, 2007, the CCRT officially re-opened after two years of long-needed upgrades.

Gone are the roots that ran beneath the 28-year-old path, pushing up asphalt in such tire-tripping configurations that bore nicknames like “the anaconda” and “the rattler.” The roots have been lowered and a root shield placed beneath the surface. Tunnels passing under Routes 6A and 6 have been regraded so the descents aren’t as treacherous. An unpaved shoulder has been added for horseback riding and running. Granite mile markers let you know where you are and how far you’ve gone. Best of all, the 22 miles of trail from South Dennis to Wellfleet have been resurfaced to backside-caressing smoothness.

It is now sheer joy to pedal beside the cranberry bogs of Harwich, the forests of Brewster, the salt marshes of Orleans and Eastham, and up to the National Seashore in South Wellfleet. The Harwich-to-Chatham spur, finished last year, runs along rolling woodland and serene ponds, with easy access to their respective town centers (although it’s best to walk your bike along Chatham’s busy Main Street sidewalks).

I can now say unequivocally, bring the bikes, or rent them from one of several establishments along the way, and hit the Trail.

And if your kids are like mine, they’ll seek destinations like Pleasant Lake General Store (near Mile 5) for ice cream, or the Brewster Express (near Mile 8) for ice cream, or Arnolds (near Mile 17 - pictured above) for… you guessed it, ice cream and a chance to stop, enjoy the scenery and refuel.

Thank you, Mass. Department of Conservation and Recreation. The CCRT upgrade is $6.2 million well spent.

For a map of the CCRT, go to: Cape Cod Rail Trail Map.


Baby McIntire said...

Not on the Cape? The Minute Man Bike Trail between Alewife T-station and Lexington is great. Also, there's a new one that you can do 22 miles on starting in Nashua, NH. Added bonus that the traffic won't be as bad as on the Cape! However, I rode a lot of the Cape's rail trail last year while pregnant and it was fabulous!

Boston, Ma

SandyShoes said...

Looks like fun! Backside-caressing smoothness, now that's a a concept I can get (sorry) behind.

Thanks CVM!

Cape and Valley Mom said...

Sandy, bring the babes with their training wheels and give it a roll. You'll love it :-)

Andrea, I've never tried the Minute man, although I used to run with a baby jogger group that would have Sunday group events there. Too far from home for me, but sounds nice.

The other rail trail to keep an eye on is actually an old canal towpath, the Blackstone River Bikeway. Eventually it will run from Worcester to Providence. Now there's about 2.5 miles done in Millbury, and another 7 or so in RI (you can access it from a nice rest stop in Lincoln).