The Best Leaf Peeping on Cape Cod
Often overlooked for showier parts of New England, Cape Cod is the perfect place to take in rich autumn colors. Here are a few of our favorite ways to experience the change in season along Cape's quaint back roads, nature trails and pristine coastline.
Take a Hike
The 1,900 wooded acres at Nickerson State Park in Brewster are a nature lover's dream, home to wildlife, walking trails and crystal clear kettle ponds. Take an early morning hike to spot songbirds, while also on the lookout for deer and foxes. The park features more than eight miles of bike trails, including access to the popular Cape Cod Rail Trail, as well as hundreds of campsites. For those in a hurry, take a drive through the paved park roads.
The mile-long pedestrian path that leads to The Knob in Woods Hole is lined with trees that transform into vibrant hues in fall. There's a second reward at the end of the hike—panoramic views of Quissett Harbor and Buzzards Bay, A hike through nearby Bourne Farm in West Falmouth is also a celebration of fall color - the 49+ acres of fields, trails and woodlands overlook Crocker Pond and provide fabulous leef-peeping vantage points. The nature sanctuary's pumpkin field also adds a fun pop of orange around pumpkin picking season.
Hit the Road
Historic Route 6A, dotted with showy trees, white-steepled churches, cozy inns and eclectic boutiques, was originally a Native American trail before the colonists arrived. It's now widely considered of the most scenic byways in the country. On your drive, admire crimson cranberrry bogs and golden-hued salt marshes, intriguing architecture, and some of the oldest villages in America.
Paddle calm waters
September and October offer plenty of sunny days and cool evenings, the perfect weather for kayak trips. For colorful excursions, Great Marsh Kayak Tours offers relaxing guided trips around tidal pools, Nauset Marsh and Parker River - or try one of their thrilling sunset tours on Cape Cod Bay. To combine a hike with your kayak exploration, great fall spots include Mashpee Woodlands, Pleasant Bay, Great Island in Wellfleet and Washburn Island in East Falmouth.
Cruise the shore
View the changing colors from the sea. In Hyannis, board Hy-Line Cruise for a sightseeing trip to learn about the region's rich maritime history and the Kennedy family's favorite summer retreat, while snapping photos from the deck. Cruises run through the end of October and include admission to the Cape Cod Maritime Museum
Climb to higher ground
For a bird's eye view of Dennis and beyond, climb the 28-foot Scargo Tower. The cobblestone structure, originally built with wood in 1874, was destroyed twice and rebuilt in 1901 as it stands now. The views are just impressive today as they were 150 years ago, and fall is one of the best times to visit. The tower, which sits atop Scargo Hill, offers scenic panoramas of autumn foliage surrounding Scargo Lake. On a clear day, you can spot Plymouth and Provincetown in the distance.
In autumn, a climb to the top of Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown pretty much guarantees a pretty-as-a-postcard scene of fall colors peppering the town in shades of red, orange and magenta. After climbing the 116 steps for breathtaking 360-degree ocean views, take a coffee or lunch break at one of the many restaurants in the center of town.
Play a Round
There are many reasons to love golf on Cape Cod in autumn, and the stunning fall foliage is just one of them. Less crowded courses and milder temperatures make for a more relaxed pace of play, giving you more time to appreciate the distinct natural beauty that surrounds most of the Cape’s scenic courses.