Much has changed during the 43 years that our family has called Eastham our home. And yet so much has stayed the same: Unspoiled beaches, dunes, trails and vistas remain as they were in 1849 when Henry David Thoreau traveled the Outer Cape on foot, writing in his journal about the simple, nature-based lifestyle of the inhabitants. And although winter storms have rearranged the landscape of some of Eastham’s beaches, they are as beautiful today as they were when Henry Beston spent a year in The Outermost House in 1927.
The Outer Cape is a nature lover’s dream. Few places offer such a wide array of hiking, biking, or kayaking opportunities. Many are guided by audiotape or recycled pamphlets, and several are preceded by lectures given by area naturalists, authors, or trail guides.
Among the vistas available to the connoisseur, none impress as much as the Fort Hill area with it’s many trails emanating from Captain Penniman’s former estate, and an overlook that offers one of the most sweeping and breathtaking panoramas in the northeastern United States.
Take an 8 minute car ride to Hemenway Landing, and kayak the Nauset Inlet and salt marsh where you can watch nesting terns, egrets, herons, and loons diving for their dinners.
Feel like a little exercise? Hop on your trail-bike right here in our backyard, and take the Cape Cod Rail Trail to every back road in town, stopping at kettle-ponds (for a freshwater swim) before taking in a bayside sunset at First Encounter Beach. It is here that the Pilgrims first encountered the Nauset Indians more than 380 years ago.
If you bike north 30 minutes into Wellfleet Harbor, you can watch the shellfish trawlers or sportfishing boats unload their catches at dockside. Stop at a rawbar and sample the world famous Wellfleet oyster, a favorite of seafood lovers around the country, and a daily export to the finest European restaurants.
Bike a little further north, and pick wild blueberries in any of dozens of blueberry patches throughout the Pilgrim Heights area. From Provincetown Harbor you can take a whale-watching cruise out to Stellwagen bank and watch humpbacks and right whales spout saltwater plumes within mere yards of your boat. Once back in harbor, take an audio-guided tour of the Whydah Museum, and hear all about pirate Black Sam Bellamy and crew, and their death off Wellfleet in the nor’easter of April 1717. Learn how treasure hunter Barry Clifford found the ill-fated vessel in 1985, and what it took to recover her cargo, cannons, and ship’s bell.
Head back south again along the bayside and stop at the Wellfeet Audubon Society, where even the expert birdwatcher can enjoy dozens of native and migratory species.
…Whether you’re walking in the footsteps of the Pilgrims, or hiking through the still-unspoiled seascapes of Thoreau or Beston, there is so much to see and do on the Outer Cape. All of it is just minutes from the front door of your cottage.
Eastham, where grassy vistas strewn with wildflowers climb windblown dunes that cascade into the sea, is truly a naturalist’s delight. The Real Cape remains as it was many years ago: A special place of teeming sea-life, ever-changing, but as constant as the sea itself.
Come visit us…
…and get some sand in your shoes.