A Treasure Trove of Cape Cod Nature Trails

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What to do on Cape Cod when it’s not beach weather? In the mood to commune with nature, we headed out on a whim with some friends recently to hike a few local nature trails and prayed that our adventurous spirit would be undaunted by the dreary weather. Eight days of intermittent gray had taken its toll and, although the sun seemed poised to make an appearance, our hopes had been dashed before.

 

Our first destination was the Knob at Quissett Harbor in Falmouth. A gentle well-worn path winds through woodlands along one of the most beautiful harbors on Cape Cod. About ¾ of the way in you come to a crescent-shaped sandy beach tucked into a small inlet that would make the perfect stop for a quick dip. On this day, however, the weather gods did not allow for swimming so we search for sea glass instead and were rewarded mightily. Just past the access to the beach, stone steps lead to the Knob itself. This recently revetted hill of land juts out into the water and offers amazing views of Buzzards Bay, the Elizabeth Islands, and the towns of Wareham, Marion, Mattapoisett, Fairhaven, and Sakonnet in the distance. Or so we were told by the only member of the group that had walked this way before. Our visit was shrouded in fog, so a return visit is required to confirm this. Undaunted by the lack of view, we enjoyed the solitude and sat on the rocks for quite a while.

Our second destination was the Museum of Natural History on Route 6A in Brewster. There on the grounds are a series of short walks through the salt marsh to Wing’s Island. Wing’s Island is named for one of the first colonial settlers, John Wing, a monument to whom you will pass along the trail. The trails lead through the salt marsh, an upland meadow and forest, and out to the dunes and beach and Cape Cod Bay. The marshlands are bounded to the west by Quivet Creek and to the east by Paine’s Creek, which becomes Stony Brook just south of Route 6A. It’s a gentle walk, clearly marked and easy to traverse, the only obstacle being an occasional muddy spot along the trail that requires bushwhacking a bit or carefully balancing on thoughtfully placed boards. Though we were unable to reach the dunes that day due to flooding in the marsh from recent rains, we were able to spot an errant lady slipper, a blue butterfly, and a rufous-sided towhee, my first.

So if the weather is less than perfect on your next visit to Cape Cod, don’t be discouraged. These are but two of the wonderful nature walks you can explore…one that led us to sea glass treasure, and the other to a treasure of flora and fauna.