CAPE COD NATIONAL SEASHORE SELF-GUIDED TOURS
Wear a hat and flat-soled shoes like sneakers.
Carry water, sunscreen, bug spray.
Pets are prohibited year-round except for the Woods Walk at the Highlands Center in Truro.
Bicycles are prohibited on self-guided trails year-round.
Remain on designated trails to protect sensitive resources.
Wildflowers and other plant material, including saltmarsh plants, may not be picked. Limited quantities of edibles may be picked within the seashore.
Check at visitor centers for regulations.
Natural and archaeological features are protected by federal law and must remain undisturbed.
Taking, feeding, or harassing wildlife is prohibited.
Stay on trails to reduce exposure to disease-carrying insects, poison ivy, and other natural risks.
Observe trail conditions while walking, and be aware of tree roots, stumps, and other naturally occurring hazards.
The Healthy Parks, Healthy People program focuses on five of Cape Cod National Seashore’s 12 trails:
- Atlantic White Cedar Swamp
- Beech Forest
- Nauset Marsh loop and back to Coast Guard Beach
- Pilgrim Spring
- Small’s Swamp
There are seven additional trails throughout the National Seashore that you and your friends or family can enjoy anytime of the year. You will find self-guiding trail folders with information on specific features at many trail heads.
If you do not want to walk 4.3 miles along the entire Nauset Marsh to Coast Guard Beach trail, there is a shorter Nauset Marsh only trail of 1.3 miles that keeps you close to the Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham. This part of the trail winds along the edge of Salt Pond and Nauset Marsh, crosses fields, and returns to the Salt Pond Visitor Center through a recovering forest. Conditions of this part of the trail are easy with some log steps and moderate grade. Use caution when crossing the bike trail. Sections may be submerged at highest tides. Check at visitor center for conditions.
Here are profiles of seven other self-guided trails not part of the current Healthy Parks, Healthy People program:
FORT HILL, EASTHAM
LENGTH: 1 mile loop
TIME: One hour
DIRECTIONS: Turn off Route 6 at the brown Fort Hill sign on Governor Prence Road in Eastham. Continue to parking area on left, across from the Captain Penniman House. The trail may also be accessed from Hemenway Landing, just north of Fort Hill on Route 6.
FEATURES: This loop trail crosses open fields, connects with the Red Maple Swamp Trail (see next page), and offers spectacular vistas of Nauset Marsh area.
CONDITIONS: Easy; solid surface; some log steps on slopes; seasonal restrooms near Hemenway Landing.
RED MAPLE SWAMP TRAIL, EASTHAM
LENGTH: .8 mile round trip
TIME: 30 minutes
DIRECTIONS: Enter this trail from the Fort Hill Trail (see previous page)
FEATURES: Boardwalk sections of this trail meander through the heart of the Red Maple Swamp. This setting is most colorful in the fall.
WARNING: Sections of the boardwalk at the Red Maple Swamp Trail have been closed due to structural deterioration and safety concerns. A small section of boardwalk through a fine example of red maple swamp is open from the junction with the Fort Hill Trail. Check at Salt Pond Visitor Center for the current status of this trail, and for your safety, remain out of closed areas.
CONDITIONS: Moderate difficulty; seasonal restrooms near Hemenway Landing.
BUTTONBUSH TRAIL, EASTHAM
LENGTH: .3 mile loop
TIME: 15 minutes
DIRECTIONS: Adjacent to Salt Pond Visitor Center amphitheater, 50 Nauset Road, off Route 6.
FEATURES: This loop trail which includes guide rope, text in braille and large print, and interactive features great for kids, involves all the senses as it winds through forest, crosses over the Buttonbush Pond on a boardwalk bridge, and traverses formerly cultivated areas.
CONDITIONS: Easy; some log steps on the second half of the trail; moderate grade; restrooms at visitor center.
DOANE TRAIL, EASTHAM
LENGTH: .6 mile loop
TIME: 30 minutes
DIRECTIONS: Doane Picnic area, one mile east of Salt Pond Visitor Center on Nauset Road (leading to Coast Guard beach). Look for brown signs.
FEATURES: This is a small part of the 4.3 mile Nauset Marsh Trail to Coast Guard Beach and back. This section is a paved, wheelchair-accessible loop trail with interpretive text that winds through an emerging pine and oak forest. A picnic area is adjacent to the parking area.
CONDITIONS: Easy; wheelchair accessible grade (also good for strollers); seasonal restrooms. Two hour parking limit.
GREAT ISLAND TRAIL, WELLFLEET
LENGTH: 3.9 – 8.8 miles round trip (3.9 for tavern loop round trip to parking area; 8.8 for round trip to Jeremy Point overlook including tavern loop.)
TIME: Allow three to five hours to explore Great Island.
DIRECTIONS: Corner of Griffin Island and Chequessett Neck Road. From Route 6, follow green signs to Wellfleet Center; turn left onto East Commercial Street (follow signs to Wellfleet Harbor); continue along the shoreline from town pier via Chequessett Neck Road to the Great Island parking area. (Keep water view on left after leaving Route 6.) Temporary detours and closures may be in effect during shorebird nesting periods.
FEATURES: This trail follows sandy stretches between the elevated heights of Great Island and Great Beach Hill. Its higher elevations punctuate spectacular vistas which emerge from an evenaged, pitch-pine forest. Part of this trail leads to a colonial-era tavern site (no remains visible). Other sections skirt salt marsh embayments. A picnic area is adjacent to parking area.
CONDITIONS: The park’s most difficult trail; mostly soft sand; some log steps; portions are submerged at high tide; hats, sturdy footgear and drinking water advised; portable toilets.
CAUTION: Trail options can be confusing. Check tide table. Do not attempt to walk to Jeremy Point if the tide is rising. * BEACH ACCESS VIA DESIGNATED TRAIL ONLY. Do not traverse dune to reach beach (enforced). Stay on designated trails to protect fragile resources.
PAMET AREA TRAILS, NORTH TRURO
LENGTH: .6 miles each way, plus extensions
TIME: 45 minutes. Adjacent fire roads offer additional miles of walking opportunities.
DIRECTIONS: 11 North Pamet Road. Take Truro Center/ Pamet Roads exit off Route 6 in Truro. Proceed 1••• miles on North Pamet Road to the end. Trail begins at the parking area adjacent to the Environmental Education Center (a hostel in summer).
FEATURES: The Bearberry Hill overlooks offer spectacular views of the Pamet landscape, with views of the Atlantic and the glacial terrain of the Pamet valley, and a former boghouse from the era of commercial cranberry harvesting. Outdoor exhibits and a folder keyed to trail markers describe the area.
CONDITIONS: Moderate difficulty; log steps; steep grade to overlook. No restrooms.
WOODS WALK AT HIGHLANDS CENTER, NORTH TRURO
LENGTH: 1 mile
TIME: 30 minutes
DIRECTIONS: 43 Old Dewline Road. Take Route 6 to the Highland Light Exit in North Truro. Go East on Highland Road. Turn right onto South Highland Road. After 0.6 miles, turn left onto Old Dewline Road. The Highlands Center is at the end of the road.
FEATURES: This trail winds through the back woods of the emerging Highlands Center for arts, science, and education. It offers a glimpse of the Cold War past amidst forest, heathlands, and dramatic ocean bluffs.
CONDITIONS: Moderate difficulty; paved and unpaved roads; sections with fairly steep terrain. No restrooms. Leashed dogs are permitted.
SALT POND VISITOR CENTER, Route 6, Eastham, MA 02642 (508) 255-3421, open year round.
PROVINCE LANDS VISITOR CENTER, Race Point Road, Provincetown, MA 02657 (508) 487-1256, open May through October.