Friday, December 30, 2011


One of our favorite walks when visiting family down on Cape Cod is the Fort Hill Trail in Eastham, which for an easy ramble offers some of the nicest scenery on the Cape. We usually start at the trailhead parking area on Fort Hill Road.

Unfortunately, the neat part of the trail that leads through a red maple swamp was closed due to some kind of problem with the boardwalk.

The Outer Cape was originally inhabited by the Nauset Indians, who cultivated the rich soil and reaped the bounty of marsh, pond and bay. The first white settlers arrived in the 1600s, and around 1672 the Fort Hill area became the property of Rev. Samuel Treat. Over the years these gentle slopes were converted to agricultural use - corn, rye, pasture and hay fields. Today the National Park Service continues to maintain these as open areas.

Looking back at the parking area atop Fort Hill, which tops out at a bit over 40 ft. above sea level.

An old stone wall, perhaps dating back several centuries.

The peaceful setting around Fort Hill - though the fields are infested with ticks during the warmer months.

The trail meanders along the edge of Nauset Marsh. There are a few glacial erratics scattered through here, neglected to get any photos of those.

From the top of Fort Hill, a view across Nauset Marsh towards the Eastham Coast Guard Station. The late afternoon sun illuminates the marsh with what is often called "Cape light."

Looking out towards the Atlantic, with the south end of the Coast Guard Beach spit on the left and the north end of the Nauset Beach spit on the right.

Birdwatchers scanning the marsh and cove for ducks.

Sun lighting up the Coast Guard Station.

The trail down the grassy back side of Fort Hill.

The trail winds through brushy woods.

Near the trailhead you emerge by the Captain Edward Penniman house, built in 1868 by an Eastham whaler who sailed several times around the world.

A whale jawbone marks one of the entrances to the yard.

From Fort Hill we drove a short distance farther north in Eastham for a quick visit to the Coast Guard Station overlooking Coast Guard Beach. This place is mobbed in the summer, but there were only a few people around today.

A short walk down from the parking area opens a view south along Coast Guard Beach and breakers rolling in off the Atlantic. This is a great time of year to visit the Cape!


  1. Judging from the gorgeous scenery (and no hordes of tourists), I'd have to agree with your concluding statement which reads: "This is a great time of year to visit the Cape!"

    Thanks for sharing the photos and the information about the Fort Hill area.


  2. CCNS is an incredible place! The beach pass there is a STEAL when you think of how often you can come and go from the beaches at anytime of the day. We saw glacial erratics too, and then more on MV this year. Great time of year to go Steve, anytime after October the Cape rules!

  3. Thanks, guys - the Cape is a very special locale for both Carol and me, we've each spent quite a bit of time there, and that is where we met. Like the Whites, it has a strong sense of place, with terrific scenery and fascinating history.

  4. Those fields are probably still full of ticks, aren’t they? I’ve read that it’s only the snow that knocks them down, not the cold.