10 hikes to try on Cape Cod
Summer is here and the Healthy Parks, Healthy People program is in full swing at Cape Cod National Seashore, now is the perfect time to explore somewhere new! Whether you are hosting friends, visiting for the week, or just looking for more ways to get outside, here are some ideas for your next adventure on Cape Cod.
Atlantic White Cedar Swamp, Wellfleet
This 1 mile loop through the woods leads to a swamp that looks out of place on Cape Cod. Start out by going clockwise around the loop. Take your time along the boardwalk crossing through the delicate swamp environment, pausing to take pictures and marvel in the scenery. Keep an eye out for a box turtle or a deer. Reward your hike with a view of the sea cliffs and health lands of the Marconi Station overlook located next to the parking lot.
Getting there: From areas south of Wellfleet, drive on Route 6 East until you see signs for the “Marconi Area.” Turn right at the traffic light onto Marconi Beach Road, cross over the bike path, and then immediately take a left onto Marconi Site Road. From areas north of Wellfleet, Take Route 6 West into Wellfleet. Following signs for “Marconi Area,” take a left at the traffic light onto Marconi Beach Road, then your first left after the bike trail onto Marconi Site Road. Follow this road to the parking lot at the end of the road.
West End Breakwater to Long Point Lighthouse, Provincetown
Here, you can reach the very tip of Cape Cod. The only way to access Long Point and Wood End lighthouses is by way of a mile-long rock jetty. Be careful of gaps in the rocks and uneven surfaces as you step your way out to the narrow strip of land protecting Provincetown’s natural deep-water harbor. Once on land again, head to either Wood End (3 miles round trip) or Long Point (5 miles round trip) lighthouses. Look for remains of the fishing village that existed here in the 1800s along the way. Make sure to check the tides before you set out because some of the rocks can be covered at high tide.
Getting there: Follow Route 6 East to where it ends in Provincetown, bearing to the left at the Herring Cove Beach turnoff to stay on Route 6. About one mile past the turnoff towards the beach, you will reach a traffic circle. Limited free parking is available at the traffic circle where Moors Road intersects with Commercial Street.
Small’s Swamp, North Truro
Trees now surround the 0.7-mile path on the site of an old family farm. Walk past the remains of a recent prescribed brush fire down into the swamp area to stroll along a boardwalk flanked by green shrubs. Hopefully, you can find a few blueberry bushes along the way. On the ascent up towards the overlooks, take time to watch out for toads and birds. From the top, look over the bluff towards the marsh and beach beyond. This trail also can also be accessed from the Head of the Meadow Bike Path, which goes between High Head Road and Head of the Meadow Beach.
Getting there: From areas south of Truro, follow Route 6 East into Truro. Travel 2.1 miles north past the intersection with Route 6A. Then, turn right at the sign for the “Pilgrim Heights Area.” From areas north of Truro, follow Route 6 West into Truro. Then, turn left at the sign for the “Pilgrim Heights Area” just past the past the large body of water (East Harbor). Take the path to the left of the parking lot behind the wooden shelter.
Highland Woods Walk, Truro
Need a pretty place to walk your dog? Dogs on leashes are permitted on this 1-mile loop trail, which begins at the site of what was once an active Air Force station. Although it may seem like an unlikely spot for a trail, but this underused area of the woods offers peace and quiet. Perhaps you can find time to look out over the sea cliff observation deck after exploring the trail.
Getting there: From areas south of Truro, follow route 6 East into Truro. Take a right on North Highland Road. Then, take a right onto Old Dewline Road, following signs for the “Highlands Center.” From areas north of Truro, follow Route 6 West into Truro. Turn left onto North Highland Road. Then, take a right onto Old Dewline Road. Parking is available next to the fence enclosing the baseball field, and you can follow the trail starting from beyond the chained gate.
Beech Forest Trail, Provincetown
Step into the past along this beautiful 1-mile loop around a shallow pond and through a hardwood forest, complete with Beech trees and maple. This is one of the premier places on the outer Cape for birders, so bring along some binoculars if you have some. Poets and artists have featured the lily pad-strewn pond for its simple and quiet splendor. If you brought along a bike, this is also one of the main access points for the Province Lands bike trail.
Getting there: Follow Route 6 East into Provincetown. Take a right onto Race Point Road at the traffic light towards signs indicating “Cape Cod National Seashore.” Just past the sign for “Province Lands,” turn left at the signs for “Beech Forest Area” to enter the parking lot.
Pamet Valley, Truro
A hidden secret in Truro, the hike up to the overlook at Bearberry Hill provides a view more than worthy as a reward for climbing the stairs. Complete the full loop of the trail to discover an old cranberry bog house tucked away from the road, sheltered by shrubs and trees. Find yourself on top of hills overlooking natural heathlands, now a rare find on Cape Cod. Check out Ballston Beach after your hike by following North Pamet Road to where it dead-ends at a path.
Getting there: From areas south of Truro, take Route 6 East into Truro. Exit to the right when you see signs for “Pamet Roads.” Take your first left after exiting onto North Pamet Road. Follow this road to where it ends. A small dirt lot provides parking to start your hike across the road. From areas north of Truro, take Route 6 West into Truro. Exit to the right when you see the signs for “Pamet Roads” Take a right onto South Pamet Road to go under the highway. Then, take your first left onto North Pamet Road, and follow this to where it ends at a small lot.
Great Island, Wellfleet
This stop is worth the winding roads away from Route 6 to reach the destination. All levels of hikers will enjoy the marsh and the beach from this bayside peninsula. Lengths vary from a 1 mile round trip hike out to the beach to an 8 mile trek to Jeremy Point. Enjoy views back towards Wellfleet harbor or out into Cape Cod Bay. A solid mix of marsh, beach, and pitch pine forest make this hike a timeless favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Getting there: From areas south of Wellfleet, follow Route 6 East into Wellfleet. Take a left onto Briar Lane. Go straight at the 4-way intersection at the Stop sign to continue onto Holbrook Ave. Take your first right onto Chequessett Neck Road. Follow this road for 2.5 miles, parking in the lot labeled “Great Island” on the left. From areas north of Wellfleet, follow Route 6 West into Wellfleet. Take a right onto Briar Lane. Go straight at the 4-way intersection at the Stop sign to continue onto Holbrook Ave. Take your first right onto Chequessett Neck Road. Follow this road for 2.5 miles, parking in the lot labeled “Great Island” on the left.
Fort Hill, Eastham
For some, this is the most beautiful spot on Cape Cod. The maintained field landscape dotted with wildflowers brings up memories of childhoods spend playing outside. Not quite as obvious as the natural beauty is the rich Native American history of this particular spot. You might even happen across on of the stones that were used by the people who inhabited this place before European settlement.
Getting there: From areas south of Eastham, follow route 6 East into Eastham. On the right-hand side, you will see signs to “Fort Hill.” Take a right onto Governor Prence Road. Stay left at the fork to remain on Governor Prence Road to its end. From areas north of Eastham, follow Route 6 West into Eastham. Take a left onto Governor Prence Road just after the Easham Information Office, following signs towards “Fort Hill Area.” Stay left at the fork to remain on Governor Prence Road. You can park on the left in the lot just beyond the Penniman House (yellow and red house) or at the end of the road in the lot overlooking the marsh.
Nauset Marsh Trail to Coast Guard Beach, Eastham
This trail is complete with bathrooms and water bottle filling stations. Stop by at the Salt Pond Visitor Center to gain some background information on the area before heading out onto the trail. Start to the right of the amphitheater, heading down the hill towards the marsh. Keep an eye out for birds as you wander around the marsh before heading up the hill to a fantastic spot for taking a break on a bench overlooking Nauset Marsh and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. Then, head into woods surrounded by a canopy created by cedar and oak trees. Bring along the kids for some fun activities near the end of this 1.6-mile loop along the brief Buttonbush trail.
Getting there: From areas south of Eastham, follow Route 6 East into Eastham. Take a right onto Nauset Road, following signs for Cape Cod National Seashore and the “Salt Pond Visitor Center.” Take the first right after exiting to enter the Visitor Center Parking lot. From areas north of Eastham, follow Route 6 West into Eastham. Take a left onto Nauset Road, following signs for Cape Cod National Seashore and the “Salt Pond Visitor Center.” Take the first right after exiting to enter the Visitor Center Parking lot.
The Beach, Anywhere
The best part about Cape Cod is that you are never very far from a beach. Nauset Light Beach and Race Point are two suggestions for unparalleled beauty. The trail is your choice, whether that be along the water or farther up above the high tide mark. Follow signs for any bird protection measures.
Getting there: Locations vary.
For more ideas about places to explore, visit the Cape Cod National Seashore visitor centers in Provincetown or Eastham. As always, it is a good idea to check for ticks and watch out for poison ivy while outside. Don’t forget your hat, sunscreen, water, and bug spray!