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By David Weintraub



*Number of steps based on approximately 2,250 steps per mile; average stride 2.35 Feet. Calories burned based on 160 lb. walker, from walkmeter app.

This mostly shaded loop, great on a hot day, explores one of the Cape’s few remaining stands of Atlantic white cedar, located on the former site of Cape Wellfleet, a U.S. Army base. Trailside markers identify some of the common trees, and you will probably get to see and hear an assortment of forest birds as well.

The Marconi Station Site, located just across the parking area from the trailhead, is well worth a visit after your walk. An elevated observation deck affords 360-degree views that include the Atlantic Ocean and Wellfleet Harbor. When Morse-code messages between President Theodore Roosevelt and England’s King Edward VII were exchanged from here on January 18, 1903, the age of two-way wireless communication began.

Begin your walk along a sandy trial lined with logs, passing a rest bench, and soon reach a fork. Bear left, passing a box for trail brochures, and follow an avenue of wind-stunted pitch pines and scrub oaks. The route winds generally westward on a level course, then descends via widely spaced dirt steps. Another level stretch wanders through a classic pine-oak forest. After an up and a down, the trial curves right and comes to the first area of standing water (except during dry periods).

Soon cross a dirt road and find the continuation of the trail, marked by a sign. Just ahead is a boardwalk that leads you into the realm of Atlantic white cedars. These impressive evergreens, which can grow to 90 feet tall, were prized for their wood by early settlers, who used them for everything from fence posts to roof rafters to organ pipes. Gunpowder for the Revolutionary War came from white-cedar charcoal. Logged heavily, only a few stands like the one here remain on the Cape.

Passing a rest bench, left, you come to a fork in the boardwalk. Stay left and traverse the swamp, which sits in the bottom of a kettle hole. Most Cape ponds are kettle holes, so picture this as a pond with very little water. The boardwalk makes a long, curvy course through the swamp, eventually swinging 180 degrees right and coming to a T-junction. The right-hand branch leads to several rest benches and then to the fork you passed earlier.

Turn left at the T-junction and soon regain a sandy trail, which climbs gently through a pine-oak forest. Now you reach a potentially confusing junction with several dirt roads. Continue straight and then merge with Old Wireless Road by angling slightly right. This dirt road dates from around 1903, when Marconi’s station was active. Passing a rest bench, left, ascend in the open and close the loop at the junction near the trail-brochure box. From there, retrace your route to the parking area.

Distance: 1.2 miles Exposure to sun: Partial Bicycles not allowed
Type of Walk: Loop Trail Surfaces: Dirt, sand Dogs not allowed
Difficulty: Easy Trail Traffic: Moderate Hunting not allowed
Time to walk: 1 hour or less Fees: None
Scenery: White cedar swamp Facilities: Restrooms, water (seasonal); picnic tables

From Route 6 in South Wellfleet, at traffic signal signed for the Marconi Station Area, take Marconi Beach Road east 0.1 mile. Turn left on Marconi Station Road, following signs for the Marconi Station Site. Go another 1 mile to a loop parking area. The trailhead is on the west side of the parking area, near its entrance. Note: there is no beach access here.