One of Cape Cod’s greatest attraction… the Cape Cod Seashore: a National Treasure. The National Seashore was created with the passing of a bill by President John F. Kennedy. Its designation marked the first time the National Park Service (NPS) established a “National Seashore” within the park system, and served as the model for at least 9 additional “Seashores” in the U.S. Encompassing more than 44,000 protected acres of land along the outer reaches of Cape Cod, the Cape Cod National Seashore stretches 40 miles from Monomoy Island off the coast of Chatham to the tip of the Cape at Provincetown.
Henry David Thoreau walked the length of the “great outer beach” along the Atlantic Ocean long before it became part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Writing about Cape Cod in the 1800s, he penned, “A man may stand there and put all America behind him.”
More than 4 million people visit Cape Cod’s National Seashore annually, stopping at one of the two Visitor Centers within the park to get acquainted with what the area has to offer. During the height of the summer, park rangers offer numerous no-cost activities geared to both young and old, including interpretive nature talks, lighthouse tours, and historical re-enactments.
National Seashore Walking Trails
11 self-guided walking trails crisscross the National Seashore. Difficulty of the walks range from easy strolls over gentle terrain to more difficult hikes through woodlands and soft sand. Listed here by the town in which they are located, the trails are a great way to experience Cape Cod the way Thoreau did.
- Fort Hill Trail
- Red Maple Swamp Trail
- Buttonbush Trail
- Nauset Marsh Trail
- Doane Trail
- Atlantic White Cedar Swamp
- Great Island Trail
- Pamet Cranberry Bog Trail
- Small’s Swamp Trail,
- Pilgrim Spring Trail
- Beach Forest Trail, Race Point Road
Cape Cod National Seashore Beaches
Also known for its wonderful beaches, the Cape Cod National Seashore is extremely popular in the summer months, but equally as beautiful in spring, fall, and winter. Two of the beaches, Coast Guard Beach in Eastham and Herring Cove in Provincetown, offer wheelchairs capable of traveling over sand, making them handicapped accessible. Services at the beaches include paved parking, showers, rest rooms, changing rooms, and lifeguards seasonally.
- Coast Guard Beach: Dr. Beach, aka Stephen P. Leatherman, named Coast Guard Beach one of the Top Ten beaches in the U.S. The parking lot fills quickly on nice summer days. However, there is a shuttle from a satellite lot a half mile away.
- Nauset Light Beach: Get here early as the parking area always fills before 9:30 AM during July and August, except in bad weather.
- Marconi Beach: Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the entire region, the parking area rarely fills during late June and July, although August is a different story.
- Head of the Meadow Beach: A perfect beach for young children and the parking area rarely fills.
- Race Point Beach: A great beach for watching the sunset and very popular with fishermen. The parking area rarely fills during June and July.
- Herring Cove Beach: Another great beach to watch the sunset. The parking area fills between 10AM and noon most days throughout the summer.
The Cape Cod National Seashore is a “must do” for visitors to Cape Cod in any season. Just over a half-hour’s drive from our Cape Cod bed and breakfast, the stunning natural beauty of the area, combined with the pounding surf against the shore, especially before and after one of our infamous nor’easters, is hypnotic. Grab your beach bag and make a day of it!