Friday, December 28, 2012


While down visiting family on Cape Cod, Carol and I had the chance to spend part of a beautiful morning on one of the nicest hikes in the Cape Cod National Seashore, leading from the Salt Pond Visitor Center past Nauset Marsh and out to Coast Guard Beach on the Atlantic. We started out on the popular Nauset Marsh Trail, a 1.3 mi. loop with a variety of wetland and upland scenery.

At the start the trail skirts scenic Salt Pond.

A gnarled old red cedar along the edge of the marsh.

From a high point, a view across Salt Pond Bay towards Nauset Marsh.

Lots of fine scenery on this trail.

Halfway along the Nauset Marsh Trail, we turned onto an extension of the trail that leads a mile or so out to Coast Guard Beach. This was a delightful walk through upland forests of oak and cedar.

We stopped briefly at one of Eastham's early homesteads, established not long after the Pilgrims landed. The gravestone in back on the left dates to 1685, though it was actually placed here in the 1860s.

Deer ticks are a major concern for Cape hikers, even during the cold months, though certainly less so than in the spring.

The trail runs along the edge of Nauset Bay, with views across to the Coast Guard Station.

A boardwalk section leading through tall reeds. Winterberry, a type of holly, adds some color to the landscape. The bright red berries are popular for holiday floral arrangements.

The Coast Guard Station was built around 1936, replacing an earlier building dating back to the 1870s. It was in service until 1958. Now the building is used for school groups and other educational programs.

A map of the Cape Cod National Seashore. The story of the establishment of this park in 1961 - under the leadership of President John F. Kennedy -  is a fascinating one. It's unique in that there is much private property within its 43,600 acres, more on the model of a British national park. One shudders to think of what the Great Beach and its adjacent ponds and woodlands would be like today had the CCNS not been created.

Approaching Coast Guard Beach.

Looking south down Coast Guard Beach.

A brisk morning at the edge of the Atlantic.

Looking north along the beach.

From the Coast Guard parking area there's a fine view over Nauset Marsh.

A dream house that has a view over the marsh.

A wonderful winding path with good footing.

Back near the Salt Pond Visitor Center, the Nauset Marsh Trail coincides with the Buttonbush Trail, designed for the visually impaired.

The Buttonbush Trail features a number of interpretive panels with both printed text and Braille. An interesting way to end our 4 1/2 mile Cape hike.


  1. I've been here before! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Hope you had a great holiday Steve!


    1. Thanks, Phil - hope you enjoy lots of good hiking in 2013!