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  The Great Island tour
The Great Island

What to Bring

Hiking shoes   Sunglasses
Hat   First aid kit
waterproof jacket
  Insect repellent in summer
Flashlight   Watch
Snacks   Water
Plastic bag for


From Boston, take I-93 South
Take left exit for Route 3 South
Continue onto Sagamore Bridge and on
route 6
Approaching Wellfleet, follow sign for
"Wellfleet Center" on left
In the town center, look for small sign on the left for Chequesset Neck Road/Holbrook
A next intersection (yield sign), turn right
When reaching the small harbor, follow the road to turn right before a building with
W.H.A.T sign
Drive until the end of the road and turn right at large sign for Great Island/Cape Cod
National Seashore"
  Good to know in advance
Map available near the information board at the parking lot

The area south of Jeremy Point Overlook is submerged at high tide – be aware of tide times and use caution in this area

The trail is often wet and muddy – wear
appropriate shoes
Restrooms at the parking lot
Lot closed from midnight to 6 am
Picnic tables at the parking lot
Remain on the designated trails and use
only established crossovers to the beach to limit erosion
Respect closed areas to protect wildlife
All pets strictly on leash for wildlife
Camping prohibited

ID Card

Overall rating: Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating Four-Star Rating
Difficulty: 4/5
  Time from Boston: 2.5 hours
  Duration: Full day


  Main activity:


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Great Island is one of those magical places balancing between land and sea; you will walk in a pine forest one moment and see algae on the trail the next moment. Definitely one of the best places for hiking in New England, and a must for those who like solitude.

Great Island is a narrow, sandy peninsula jutting several miles southward in the Cape Cod Bay. A living landscape whose topography changes with the tides, this is an extraordinary area for a day out in the wild. While Great Island is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, its location on the Bay has made it less known that the more famous beaches on the ocean side; the nature here is still preserved and part of the trail can be submerged at high tide (it is generally quite wet anyway), which lends an air of adventure to a hike here.

The loop around Great Island is challenging, with muddy and sandy trails that can quickly wear you down, and no shade on the beach in the summer, but the rewards are equally satisfying - in particular, we recommend hiking in the afternoon to watch the sun set over the bay on your way back.

Hiking directions :
From the parking lot, take the trail behind the information board, then turn right at the bottom of the stairs to walk along the marsh towards the dunes
The main trail turns veers left at the dunes; follow it towards the foot of the wooded hill. This section can be quite wet; you may have to walk on the banks if the trail has transformed into a river, which is often the case; remember to walk as close from the trail as possible to limit erosion.
Follow the sign for Jeremy Point pointing to the left when you reach the hill on the other side of the mudflats
At the next trail intersection, continue on the right and follow the sign for Jeremy Point. The left trail adds about 1.5 mi. to this hike by visiting the site of a tavern established there in the eighteenth century (no remains)
You will walk in a pine forest until you reach the Middle Meadow Marsh, another mudflat area around which the trail continues on the right.
You will walk past a "Great Beach Hill" sign when the trail ascends another wooded hill; walk through another pine forest until you emerge again at Jeremy Point Overlook, above the dunes and marsh area at the southern tip of Great Island; the trail continue right from this point, but the area can be submerged at high tide and extreme caution is recommended if you stay there for a while or decide to continue south on the sandbar.
Follow the main trail to the right until you reach a sign for the Trailhead, showing the direction you come from; take the narrow trail behind the sign to walk across the dunes and reach the beach.
From this point, you will walk more than 2 miles along the Cape Cod Bay to go back to your car; since the beach is exactly facing west, sunsets can be gorgeous there, and you are unlikely to meet anyone else so far away from access roads.
About 200 yards before passing the house overlooking the beach, look for a steep, narrow trail through the dunes; take this trail to walk past the house, and continue straight on the road to go back to the parking lot on the hilltop.
The distance is approximately 5.5 mi; since most of it is on sandy trails, your pace is likely to be slower than normal; and with many vantage points where you can stop, you should expect a 3- to 4-hour hike.
Paddling Biking Mountaineering