In 1993, the Barnstable County Commissioners hatched a plan to create a regional system of trails from one end of the Cape to the other. Dubbed the “Cape Cod Pathways,” the concept was to connect the Cape Cod National Seashore with the Cape’s wooded interior, historic villages and remaining back country.
A decade earlier, the Town of Barnstable had purchased hundreds of acres – Old Jail Lane Preserve in Barnstable Village and Spruce Pond Conservation Area in West Barnstable – which proved to be perfect anchors for the Pathways. Meanwhile, Barnstable Land Trust had taken on a role to help preserve land along the Pathways segments that run from Phinney’s Lane to the Community College and in the area near Spruce Pond.
For more than two decades, BLT and the Town have worked both independently and together on many acquisitions to help make the Cape Cod Pathways a reality…and it’s getting close! Currently, walking trails traverse a mosaic of lands and cover over 11 miles, as the crow flies, from the neighboring towns of Yarmouth and Sandwich. Many more miles of trail spurs and loops provide access from multiple locations and points of interest. Ownership varies, with land owned by public agencies, private entities and individuals.
To fully implement the Cape Cod Pathways, the Horizon Foundation has made a grant to BLT to oversee the creation of an updated master plan. The plan will record what has been done, determine steps to complete and maintain the trail system, and identify and assign tasks to Pathways Partners and volunteers.
Final implementation of the plan will undoubtedly require the purchase of critical links. Fortunately, Barnstable’s Community Preservation Act provides a dedicated stream of revenue to help fund open space purchases.
Many thanks to our Pathways Partners: AmeriCorps Cape Cod, Appalachian Mountain Club, Barnstable Village Association, West Barnstable Civic Association, individual volunteers and the Town’s Land Acquisition and Preservation Committee and Conservation Commission.