Cape Cod Nature Trails

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Today would be a great day for a walk. This lovely peninsula is crisscrossed with miles of trails that traverse marshlands, woodlands, meadows, bogs, and saltwater beaches. Maintained by numerous entities including the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Complex, private land trusts, conservation groups, independent towns and villages, and/or the National Park Service walking the trails is a splendid way to enjoy the diverse flora and fauna of the area, as well as a variety of shorebirds, songbirds, owls, hawks, and osprey.

Rich and I were avid hikers when we owned our inn in North Conway, NH, but hiking here is a more relaxed and often less challenging activity than ascending the rugged peaks of the White Mountains. We’ve adapted our style and now tend to take leisurely strolls observing the wildlife and appreciating the landscape, often through the lens of a camera for Rich, and for me with an eye to collecting unusual bits of driftwood, rocks, shells and sea glass.

I’ve written before about the walk to the Knob in Falmouth, the nature trails behind the Natural History Museum in Brewster, and the spectacular vistas from the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, but recently I’ve become aware of a few more intriguing trails that we need to put on our list of “must dos” this summer.

For example, The National Seashore has 12 self-guided trails including Fort Hill, Red Maple Swamp, Nauset Marsh, Doane, Atlantic White Cedar Swamp, Great Island, Pamet Area, Small’s Swamp, Highlands Woods Walk, Pilgrim Spring, Beech Forest, and the Buttonbush Trail near the Salt Pond Visitor Center, which is accessible for visitors who are blind. You can pick up a map of the trails at the Salt Pond Visitors Center in Eastham.

In Chatham you’ll find marked trails on Strong Island, Frost Fish Creek, old Comers Woodland, Training Field, Barclay’s Pond, and Cedar Street. You can find detailed maps of these trails online at the Chatham Conservation Foundation website.

No need for any special equipment to enjoy these trails, just a map, some bottled water, and perhaps some bug spray. Even better, bring a picnic and a bottle of your favorite libation and linger a while.