The Top Cape Cod Winter Hiking Spots

For the cold-blooded among us, the idea of going out walking in the winter here on Cape Cod is the perfect picture of misery. Poor circulation, allergies, sudden pre-existing heart conditions, and the profundity of couch-potato living all flood the brain once exercising in the cold is brought up.

But if the idea of open trails, scenic views and easy exercise is appealing in any way, ignore that lizard-like laziness! After all, hiking at any pace is much more than mere exercise; it is an excellent means of philosophical reflection; a way to take just a little time to appreciate the graceful beauty which surrounds us on the Cape during any season.

A few words of caution before you set out though. Parking can be considerably more hazardous in the winter if there is snow on the ground. Make sure to check with the property’s town officials beforehand to see if your non-4×4 vehicle can make it into the typically unpaved lot. If it isn’t plowed, you may have some difficulty getting in or out.

As far as dress is concerned, consider the winter trifecta of hat-scarf-gloves. Layers are key to any outdoor activity this time of year, but those three articles can turn an unbearable walk into a comfortable one.

Lastly, make sure there are no hunters where you’re walking. Although most Cape Cod hunters are out in the fall for deer season, other species’ seasons are open throughout the winter. If there is even a chance of there being hunters out, ensure you have a bright orange vest handy.

Upper Cape

Scusset Beach State Reservation – Sagamore
For those who can’t decide between a fairly even beach walk or a woodsy hike, Scusset offers both. Comb the seashore for winter waterfowl and an array of pebbles, or enjoy the peaceful tranquility of the Sagamore Hill walking path which winds through a quiet forest. Time: 1-1 ½ hours

Lowell Holly Reservation – Sandwich/Mahspee
Noted for its delightful variety of trees in full leafy array during the warmer months, Lowell Holly is also a suitable winter location for easy walking. There are two ponds to see, and likewise, lots of wildlife. Time: 2 hours

Mid Cape

Sandy Neck Nature Trail – Barnstable
The beauty of Sandy Neck has epic origins. Many of the large rocks you’ll see came from the tops of mountains thousands of years ago, when retreating glaciers broke them off of hillier locations and deposited them in others. You can sometimes find fish and mammal bones, furry critters and a variety of birds on this medium-grade walk. Time: 1½ to 2 hours

Crowes Pasture – East Dennis
An excellent hour-or-less spot for dog walking, this trail loops quickly through marshy woodlands and features a peak at the nearby shoreline.

Lower Cape

Fort Hill Trail – Eastham
This is arguably the Lower Cape’s most popular hiking spot, since it appeals to all sorts of people. Birders know it as one of the best spots in Southeastern Massachusetts to spy birds year-round; the morning-jog crowd frequent its flat trail for a little boost, while those working on their cardio prefer the actual hill section. Time: At least 2 hours

Great Island – Wellfleet
This is the most difficult and longest option on this list, but it pays off in explorative value. The winter light will fall perfectly on the path’s dunes and lighthouse, making for dramatic photo opportunities. For safety, it is important you pay close attention to the tides, since part of it is accessible via a trail which will submerge throughout the day. Time: 3 to 5 hours

By Staff
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