Regardless of where you live, when you think of autumn colors, you think of New England. You might not instantly think of Cape Cod because the name conjures images of sandy beaches, fishing boats, quaint old homes – and lobster rolls. But the peninsula has its own unique fall foliage that’s worth a drive, a hike – or both!

Here are some of our best bets for experiencing it in all its glory.

Tree-mendous Color
One exploration advantage Cape Cod has is its unique climate. The temperatures stay warmer later into the season, enabling the Cape to show off its profusion of rich autumn colors when the show is over and done in other parts of New England. Hiking in summer has its pitfalls, such as bothersome bugs like fleas and ticks. But you can enjoy treks on mild days in November and December - without worrying about these pests as much.

Take your pick of one of Cape Cod’s many conservation land trails that meander across the peninsula. You’ll see plenty of pitch pines, black oaks, red cedar and white oaks. The needles of the pines take on a golden hue in autumn, while the black oaks go red and white oaks turn to a wine color. The red cedar refuses to go with the flow and keeps a touch of green in the landscape even into autumn. In addition to an abundance of native pines, the woodlands are interspersed with red maple, beech, and black locust for colorful accents, all adding their swaths to the palette.

Trails of Trees
Great fall hikes with peak foliage awaits on such nature trails as the Bell's Neck Conservation Area in Harwich, Mashpee Woodlands in Mashpee, Beebe Woods in Falmouth and Fort Hill in Eastham. Romping along the woodland and salt marsh trails at Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster is also an autumn treat. The trails of Camp Cod National Seashore are ideal if you want seascapes to go with your woodlands.

Crowes Pasture Conservation Area offers a peaceful and scenic respite. In addition to the native trees, you'll find 42 acres of beautiful red cranberry bogs, which bloom from September through November. Don’t plan on picking the fruit - the bogs are protected under the state’s natural wetlands act.

People aren’t the only ones trying to get a glimpse of the amazing fall colors on the conservation land trails. A walk in the woods might get you up close and personal with the native wildlife. Even on frosty mornings, you’re likely to see deer, rabbits, fox, and, of course – wild turkeys. Many bird species nest in the forests through winter, and the gulls are ever-present.
The cape had its native trees when the Pilgrims arrived, but over the centuries, settlers brought new varieties to villages and the countryside. As a result, the forests of the cape are an eye-pleasing kaleidoscope of cultural and natural influences blended into a magnificent mosaic. In villages, you’ll see stately elms along streets and the dazzling aspens whose shimmering leaves change to gold in the autumn breezes.

About the blogger: K. DeShawn Smith caught a fish on his first camping trip and he’s been hooked on the outdoors ever since, whether viewed from the deck of a luxurious ski lodge or on a trail deep in the woods. He first visited Cape Cod as a teenager and returns every year for the fall colors - and of course, the fish.