If beaches are Cape Cod's primary draw, its vast acreage of nature preserves and walking trails is a close second. Hiking or walking is an excellent and virtually cost-free way to see the geographic splendor and diversity of Cape Cod up close.
Cape Cod Pathways is the name of a network of trails across the Cape. It is constantly being expanded and when complete, will extend from Provincetown to Falmouth and Bourne and provide a connection between the seashore and the Cape's wooded interior.
On the Cape Cod Commission's website, you'll find a map showing 106 public walking trails along with descriptions of the trails, pictures, and links for more information about each. Of the 104 trails, 36 are within 1.5 miles of a public transportation route stop on Cape Cod.
Some of my favorite trails are:
Sandwich Boardwalk, a 1.5- mile trek that crosses Mill Creek and Town Neck Marsh to Old Sandwich Harbor and Cape Cod Bay
the Knob in Falmouth, a remote little hillock jutting out into Buzzards Bay where on a clear day you can see New Bedford to the west, the canal entrance to the north, and the Elizabeth Islands to the south
Quashnet River Corridor in Mashpee, 500 acres of riverbanks, old bogs, and higher ground threaded with dirt roads and walking paths
South Beach in Chatham, an area that has undergone extensive change since a storm-induced breach in North Beach in 1987
Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail in Wellfleet, a cool, mossy 1.25-mile loop in stunted oak and pine woods with a boardwalk through a cedar swamp.
Be sensible when you walk: Wear a hat and take sunscreen, water, and mosquito repellent.
Do you have a favorite walk or nature spot on Cape Cod? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll share them in an upcoming column.