Cape Cod is one of the best places for hiking on the East Coast. From sandy beaches to dense forests, Cape Cod hiking trails offer some of the most diverse habitats in the country. With all this diversity you can be sure to expect unique wildlife and spectacular views. Here are some of our favorite Cape Cod hiking trails in the area.
1. Great Island Trail – Wellfleet
Trail Head: 1440 Chequessett Neck Rd., Wellfleet, MA 02667
Great Island Trail is one of the hardest Cape Cod hiking trails on our list, but also the most rewarding. The trail is a 7.5-mile loop that is mostly in direct sunlight. It offers stunning views of Cape Cod Bay as a large portion of the trail is spent walking along cliffs. Another major selling point is the old 17th-century whaling tavern that you come across while on the trail. You can extend the hike by a little over a mile by trekking out to Jeremey’s point; however, this part of the trail is only accessible during low tide.
2. Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail – Wellfleet
Trail Head: 195 Marconi Station Rd Wellfleet, MA 02667
The Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail is one of the most unique Cape Cod hiking trails. It is a 1.2-mile loop trail that progresses through a swamp filled with ancient Atlantic White Cedar Trees and murky swamp water. The trail can be a little spooky in the fall, but it is well worth the visit to walk through a swamp! Getting to and from the swamp can be a little strenuous as it’s on a fairly steep incline but walking through the swamp is fairly easy as this portion of the trail is on a flat boardwalk.
3. Cliff Pond Trail Loop– Brewster
Trail Head: Flat Pond Road, Brewster, MA 02631
This 3.1-mile loop trail is one of the few trails on our list that is actually inland and does not offer views of the coast. It is a fairly flat trail that skirts the shores of Cliff Pond in Nickerson State Park. One of the highlights of the trail is a large boulder that hangs out over the pond about half a mile into the hike. It’s the perfect spot for a nice afternoon lunch. If you’re looking to avoid paying the state park fees, go in October as they stop charging in the winter months.
4. Morris Island Trail – Chatham
Trail Head: Morris Island Rd, Chatham, MA 02633
The Morris Island trail is a 1.6-mile loop that offers a wide diversity of habitats. Along this short trail, you will come across wetland, forest, dune, and beach habitats allowing you to see a wide variety of wildlife in a short amount of time.
5. Bourne Farm – Falmouth
Trail Head: 6 N Falmouth Hwy, North Falmouth, MA 02556
This inland trail features a large barn and farmhouse but offers many surprises along the way. One of our favorite surprises is a cattle tunnel that takes you under an old railroad track. The Big Loop is only a little over a mile long and the farm has a pumpkin patch in the fall along with a neighboring Christmas tree farm in the late fall.
6. Dead Neck Trail – Mashpee
Trail Head: Dead Neck, Mashpee, MA 02649
Dead Neck Trail is a 2.8 mile out and back trail that runs between the dunes of South Cape Beach and the marsh. It can get rather hot if you are on the trail in the afternoon, but the solitude the trail offers is well worth the visit. This is a great place to see a wide variety of different bird species that live on the beach. The end of the trail is especially beautiful with a scenic breakwater view at the entrance to Waquoit Bay.
7. Nauset Marsh Trail – Eastham
Trail Head: 50 Nauset Rd., Eastham, MA 02642
This is an easy walking 1.3-mile loop along the outer edges of Nauset Marsh and Salt Pond. You should start your hike at the Salt Pond visitor center, where you can get some information on the wildlife and land before starting the hike. You can also extend the hike to reach Coast Guard Beach, which adds an additional mile out and back.
8. Fort Hill Trail – Eastham
Trail Head: Fort Hill Rd., Eastham, MA 02642
High above the Nauset Marsh lies Fort Hill Trail. This 1-mile loop trail offers stunning views of the marsh below. It can be a little strenuous and hilly, but it is well worth the struggle for birders hoping to see natives of the marsh. You can also extend the hike by continuing along the Red Maple Swamp Trail rather than circling back to the starting point of the Fort Hill Trail loop.
9. Cornelia Carey Sanctuary (The Knob) – Woods Hole
Trail Head: end of Quissett Harbor Rd, Woods Hole, Falmouth, MA 02536
The Cornelia Carey Sanctuary is a loop of trails that begins at the edge of the spectacular Quissett Harbor and leads you through a wooded trail within the protected bird sanctuary and out onto sandy Crescent Beach. The trail meanders for about a mile leading out onto the “knob” of land that juts out from the bay, providing an amazing vantage point at the end of the harbor. On a clear day you can see New Bedford and the Elizabeth Islands. The trails are an easy hike, but one needs to be mindful of roots and rocks along the way. There is limited parking at the trailhead, so best to walk or bike there, if you are able.
10. Long Point Lighthouse Trail – Provincetown
Trail Head: Province Lands Rd., Provincetown, MA 02657
A list Cape Cod hiking trails couldn’t be complete without a hike out to a lighthouse. Long Point Lighthouse is only accessible via foot, and you will need to walk along a 2-mile rocky jut of land in order to reach it. The hike itself is serene and due to the remoteness of the lighthouse there is rarely a crowd. Make sure to check the tides before going on this hike as some of the boulders you need to cross to get to the lighthouse become submerged at high tide.