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Experience Cape Cod Boardwalks   by Linda Behrle

There are so many things to do on Cape Cod that there is truly something for everyone. One of the very best things about Cape Cod is the natural beauty and variety of wildlife to see. The Cape has managed to maintain it's unique appeal through extensive protection of wildlife areas, coastal and marshland regions and development of resources for visitors to enjoy without damaging these areas. There are several protected areas that offer great outings that even the most out-of-shape person will be able to walk and enjoy.

A smart way to allow people to experience the marshlands on the Cape has been the building of boardwalks in several regions. Over the years several towns have added these walks to enhance the opportunity for people to get an up-close and personal view of these natural features. There are several boardwalks on the Cape for you to enjoy, some even handicap accessible. Each offers a look at a different eco-system, teeming with a wide variety of wildlife.

The Sandwich Boardwalk can be accessed at the end of Jarves and Harbor Streets off of Route 6A. The boardwalk leads to one of the town beaches where you can relax and swim or walk on the beach. Don't forget to look down at the boards as you walk. The townspeople and friends "sold" 1,700 planks to replace the original walk destroyed in a hurricane in the early 1990s. There are interesting messages carved by the contributors. The boardwalk is 1,350 feet long.

Wellfleet has two boardwalks to chose from - or do both. The first is located near the historical Marconi Station Site and is named Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail, so you can also include that in your visit. This boardwalk ambles through the trees and marsh areas. It is fascinating to see the effect that the winds have had on the vegetation, including the trees, as you walk this trail. You can find the Swamp Trail by following signs for the Marconi site on Route 6A in Wellfleet. The entrance to the trailhead is off the parking lot.

The other Wellfleet boardwalk is very popular with artists and photographers. Uncle Tim's bridge crosses Duck Creek and takes you to a conservation area. Portions of the boardwalk are under water at high tide, so plan carefully or you will have to walk in cold water. At the end of the walk you can observe crabs and other sea life. You can find the entry to the boardwalk on Commercial Street in Wellfleet.

Yarmouthport boasts the Bass Hole Boardwalk near Grey's Beach and Chapin beach. This 860-foot-long structure extends out over marshlands rich with wildlife and it is near walking trails and a picnic area, too. You can watch small fish, crabs, and horseshoe crabs in the waters around and under the boardwalk, as well as see the raised nests of the osprey that live here. To get to the boardwalk, find Church Street on Route 6A in Yarmouthport. Bear left off of Church Street onto Centre Street and you will find it at the end.

Eastham has two boardwalks, both within the Cape Cod National Seashore park. The Fort Hill Trail is 1.5 miles long and is part boardwalk, part walking trail. It will take you through the Red Maple Swamp, old historical town ruins, scenic salt marshes and orchards. There is plenty of wildlife to observe in the salt marsh, and you'll likely see children trying to catch crabs and small fish in the low areas along the trail. You can access the Fort Hill Trail off of Route 6 - turn right onto Governor Prence Road and go about 1/4 mile to the parking area beyond the Captain Penniman House.

The second trail in Eastham starts at the CCNS Visitor Center on Route 6. You can bike or walk this trail and it will take you across Great Marsh to Coast Guard Beach. Don't forget to visit the center before you embark on the trail. It has lots of helpful information to make your walk even more interesting and enjoyable.

Brewster stretches along Route 6A on the lower Cape. The John Wing Trail, located next to the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, leads to Wing Island where you can explore the grounds to see the wildlife. You can also observe osprey nests off in the distance of the marsh area, and can even continue studying them up close when you get back to the museum through their brand new "ospreycam". The ospreycam is a newly sponsored project in 2006 and is wired to large screens in the center where visitors can watch these birds in their natural habitat. There are already seasonal "residents" in the nest. The boardwalk trail begins next to the museum on Route 6A in Brewster.

Boardwalks are not unique, but the ones on Cape Cod offer a special taste of nature and a view of the Cape that many miss out on. When looking for things to do on Cape Cod, experience a bit of the Cape in a new and different way - you and your family will love it.

About the Author

Linda Behrle has spent many wonderful summers on the Cape beginning in her childhood. It is still her favorite place on earth to be. You can find out more about Cape Cod hotels and things to do on Cape Cod at her website, as well as complete information for all of your vacation planning needs.

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