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Hiking on Cape Cod National Seashore

What to Bring

Hiking shoes
  Emergency blanket
Backpack   Binoculars
Sunglasses   Insect repellent
Hat   Watch
Comfortable pants   Snacks
First aid kit   Water
Sunscreen   Food
Flashlight   Plastic bag for trash
Weatherproof jacket    


From Boston, take I-93 south
Take left exit for route 3 south
Continue onto Sagamore Bridge and on route 6
In Eastham, turn right at traffic light on to Doane Road (Salt Pond Visitor Center directly on the right)
At end of the road, turn right to reach the parking lot in front of the lighthouse
  Good to know in advance
Stop at the Salt Pond Visitor Center to take map and learn about Nauset Marsh's and Cape Cod's ecosystems
Restrooms at the Visitor Center (closes at 4:30 pm)
Dogs on leash—clean up after them (pets prohibited from the Nauset nature trail)
Do nor remove sand from the beach cliffs
Never trample dune vegetation
Do not feed or harass wildlife
Carry out your trash
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Hiking on Cape Cod National Seashore

ID Card

Overall rating: Five-Star Rating Five-Star Rating Five-Star Rating Five-Star Rating Five-Star Rating
Difficulty: 4/5
  Time from Boston: 2 1/2 hours
  Duration: Full day


  Main activity:


  What do our ratings mean?
The Cape Cod National Seashore, which spans the entire eastern shore of Cape Cod, is simply the best place in all New England to enjoy a long hike on the beach. Actually, few other countries can boast a similar setting, with more than 20 miles of uninterrupted beach.

Despite the pristine condition of the beach (no construction or building along the shore), you can very easily find solitude here, even in summer: The crowds tend to aggregate around the few boardwalks leading the beach, leaving miles of emptiness and silence in between. Wildlife may be your only companion: we saw seals and even a Minke whale a few hundred yards from the shore two years ago.

The beach itself is well worth the driving from Boston: on many sections you will walk below tall sand cliffs, where you can read geological history through layers of different colors. The solitude, the straight line of the shore heading north, and the ocean horizon will easily make you think you are on some remote paradise.

Objects brought by the tide, whose forms you will try to make out as you slowly walk up to them, will probably be the only milestones in a hike sure to clean you out from the city stress.

From the lighthouse parking lot, walk down to the beach and head north (to your left). From there, you can decide how long to walk. We suggest hiking for about 3 hours round-trip. Walking on this soft sand can wear you out faster than on normal trails, so start heading back when you still feel in shape - do not wait until you are tired to turn around.

If the lighthouse parking is full (as can be the case in the summer), drive back on Doane street and turn right (sign) for the beach's summer parking.

An option to lengthen the hike is to leave from the Salt Marsh Visitor Center off route 6. A nature trail leaves from the Visitor Center and winds along Nauset Marsh. It crosses the Nauset bicycle trail, which you can then follow to finally cross Nauset Bay over a long bridge and reach the lighthouse. Taking this trail round-trip add about 3 miles to the hike, or about 1:30 hour.


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