Looking for some new ground to cover on your next family trek? Cape Cod’s breathtaking terrain extends well past the seashore, with scenic trails just steps away in every direction, each one as distinctly unique as the regions of the Cape themselves. From nature sanctuaries to fairyland forests, and a network of conservation land teeming with wildlife just waiting to be observed, you don’t have to go far to find a walk that takes you a world away.
Discover Cape Cod from the inside out with these family-approved trails, connect with nature, and teach your kids the benefits of wandering in the woods. Hiking does a body (and mind) good!
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Brewster
Public trail access to these popular family field walks gives kids the perfect dose of fresh air and exercise in any season. Explore the easy one-mile Lee Baldwin Trail that winds across Cape Cod Museum of Natural History land and through Stony Brook Valley. Bridges, tree etchings, and an observation deck make this a kid-favorite ramble. Want to stay a little longer? Head onto the John Wing Trail and cross coastal woodlands and a salt marsh to the tide pools of Cape Cod Bay. Trail access from Drummer Boy parking lot.
Fort Hill, Eastham
Behold majestic views of Nauset Marsh on this treasured Cape Cod National Seashore trail for a transportive nature walk that showcases the Cape’s varied terrain and pays off with panoramic views of the outer beach and Coast Guard Station. Want to really be amazed? Get the family out of bed and watch the sunrise! Connect with the Red Maple Swamp Trail near Indian Rock to extend your hike, a favorite in fall.
Beebe Woods, Falmouth
Explore a network of old carriage roads and divergent trails at Beebe Woods, combined with neighboring Peterson Farm for nearly seven miles of hiking across a serene forest, one of Falmouth’s first protected lands. Hunt for remnants of ice age boulders, pick a bouquet of wildflowers, and fly through the air on a rope swing into the cool waters of the “Punch Bowl”—the locals' favorite pond in the woods! Access the trailhead by parking at Highfield Hall and be sure to reserve some energy for strolling through Highfield's outdoor art exhibitions and beautiful gardens.
Long Pasture Wildlife Sanctuary, Barnstable
Catch a dragonfly, chase some butterflies across a sunny meadow, and enjoy the “million-dollar view” of Barnstable Harbor and Sandy Neck Barrier Beach at one of the Mid Cape’s hidden gems. Locals will tell you to explore the expansive tidal flats and keep an eye peeled for wildlife as you walk the gentle trails that pass through a variety of abundant habitats.
Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, Wellfleet
Commune with nature at this 1,000-acre bird-lover’s paradise on the bayside in Wellfleet. Numerous self-guided trails showcase Cape Cod’s diverse ecology and traverse marshland, dunes, tidal flats, and pine woodlands for the perfect family eco-trek. Take the popular, mile-long Goose Pond Trail loop known for its concentration of wading shorebirds and information placards to read en route.
Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail, Wellfleet
A mystical swamp near the Atlantic that you can hike across? Your kids will love being transported to this Tolkien-esque woodland almost as much as they will love getting to walk through the forest on a boardwalk. The trailhead at Marconi Station Site in Wellfleet descends into a rare wooded wetland of Atlantic white cedars for a perfectly unusual and otherworldly 1.2 mile loop that will make everyone’s imagination soar. Added bonus: Breathtaking ocean views of Marconi Beach.
The Knob, Falmouth
If discovering hidden, off-the-beaten-path local trails makes you want to lace up your sneakers, head for the Falmouth seaside where you’ll start out with gorgeous views of Quissett Harbor on your way to “The Knob”. Go early to grab one of the limited parking spots and head ¼ mile down the road to the marked trail head. A short hike through the woods pays off in spades with waves, rocky coastline, and a gorgeous ocean overlook. Wear your suit to swim off the little beach and bring bag lunches for the family.
Nickerson State Park, Brewster
When you’re ready for a (short) break from the seaside, head to Nickerson State Park to explore the pristine glacial kettle ponds nestled among the pines—truly an oasis in the woods. Grab a trail map and hit the family-perfect, 1.7-mile Little Cliff Pond with your brood for easy loop around a 33-acre natural kettle hole pond. Brush up on your local geologic history so you can field questions from the kids! Need to cool off? Take a dip before you go in the freshwater Cliff Pond summer-perfect swimming hole (parking accessible).
Logan Kinei Nature Experiences
For a truly one-of-a-kind family nature escape, surprise the family with a guided hiking tour led by Cape Cod newcomer and outdoor enthusiast, Shaun Logan of Logan Kinei Nature Experiences. From early morning and sunset beach excursions to more intense, physically challenging terrain and trails, itineraries abound with National Seashore guided tours customized for every level of adventure. Want a remote wilderness dune shack experience? How about some mid-point meditative breathwork by the sea? Shaun’s your guy! Explore the Cape’s diverse terrain, recharge, and connect with nature and your family at the same time for an unforgettable Cape Cod adventure.