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Monday, May 6, 2013

Hiking in Wellfleet on Cape Cod

Marconi Beach, Wellfleet, MA
 The weather this time of the year on Cape Cod is perfect for hiking. On a recent sunny day, we decided to go for an outing down Cape. As Wellfleet is one of our favorite places to visit, we thought we would stop by the beach, maybe take a short hike, and then have lunch at one of our favorite restaurants there.

Wellfleet is about a 45 minute drive from our bed and breakfast in Sandwich. In late April, when the traffic is very light, we made it in a little less time. That is the wonderful thing about visiting Cape Cod in the spring, there is not a lot of traffic on the roads and no long lines in restaurants.

Our first stop was Marconi Beach which is located on the Atlantic Ocean side of the Cape. Off Route 6, you turn right at the sign for the Marconi Station Site. Be careful to watch for cyclists as the bike trail crosses this road just after you make the turn. Follow the road to the end where there is plenty of public parking.

This beautiful public beach is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore. It is named for Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi, who in 1903 orchestrated the first wireless communication between England and the United States from this area. This time of the year the beach is nearly deserted except for a hearty few like ourselves. The view from the top of the cliffs is stunning. Recent winter storms have really taken their toll on the beaches of Cape Cod, both the Atlantic beaches and the Cape Cod Bay beaches. Here, the stairway down to the beach was severely damaged and is currently barricaded to prevent access. Repairs are scheduled to be completed by the beginning of the summer season.

Next we headed to the place that was the intent of our trip, the Atlantic White Cedar Swamp hiking trail. The entrance to the trail is back down the road towards Route 6. From this direction, and just before the bike trail crossing, you turn right and travel past the National Seashore Headquarters to the parking area. The hiking trail begins at the parking lot. This is an easy 1.2 mile trail and perfect for a first hike of the season. You may want to wear a hat and use some bug spray if you are visiting in the summer. There are mosquitoes and ticks in the area.

This is a difficult area for vegetation but behind the dunes flourish golden beach heather, broom crowberry, and bear oak, and the pitch pine that is so common here on the Cape. What is so uncommon in New England and on Cape Cod is the white cedar that you will see once you arrive at the swamp area.

Pathway to the White Cedar Swamp
The first part of the trail flows downward, but not at a difficult pitch, as you make your way to the swamp. Not to fear, once you get there you will follow a meandering walkway that has been constructed so that your feet will remain dry and the vegetation will not be disturbed. Once inside the swamp where there is more moisture, you are likely to see checkerberry, mayflower, and some wild sarsaparilla, all of which love the acidic soil created by decaying leaves and other organic matter. You will feel the temperature drop slightly and the humidity rise as you descend into the swamp. The white cedars grow in the water of the pools that are scattered throughout.

Follow the walkway to the other side of the swamp where you will enter the pathway back to the parking area. This path is slightly elevated but not a difficult hike. Before you leave the area, wander  across the parking lot and take the walkway up to the  observation deck. The view of the beach in both directions is spectacular.

Come visit us at our bed and breakfast and we will provide you with information that will help you in your exploration of Cape Cod.

I am your Innkeeper, part-time chef, and artist in residence at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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