There’s much to be said for cozying up indoors when the snow falls, but after the flakes have settled, walking along the snow-covered beaches is one of the Cape’s greatest winter pleasures. On gray days when the ground and branches are bare, the stretches of deserted shoreline and ocean horizons (and a good cup of coffee afterward) will cure any blues.

Here are just a handful of favorite winter walking spots (paved and off-road) for any forecast!

0” to 1"
Paved: For all the times you’ve crossed the Cape Cod Canal, take one winter afternoon to take in the bridge views from below. The path runs eight miles from the Sagamore to Bourne bridges; download a PDF of the Army Corps of Engineers self-guided trail map and keep an eye out for historic spots. Off-road: The trails at Sandy Neck Beach offer some of the most gorgeous views you’ll find on the mid-Cape, but if you’re not up for navigating the narrow and rocky path, the Sandwich Boardwalk will transport you to a world of wide-open marshland, shore, and sky. 

After the walk: Cozy up with a classic espresso drink at Cafe Chew and a thick slice of anything with homemade jam. (If your late afternoon walk ends closer to cocktail hour, toast the day by the tavern fire at Dan’l Webster Inn)

1” to 2"
Paved: The Cape Cod Rail Trail takes on a special solitude on winter mornings beneath twinkling trees. The 22-mile path will take you past quiet beaches and sleepy Main Streets—hit the Orleans stretch, where it’s the perfect time to discover the village mainstays where locals tuck away in the off-season after your walk. Off-road: The Cape Cod National Seashore begins in Eastham at breathtaking Fort Hill. Make your way across the open meadow to the patch-work beauty of the Nauset marsh, then follow the loop to watch the snow falling past the windows of the Captain Penniman House.

After the walk: Is there a better end to a winter walk than a cup of hot chocolate at its namesake Hot Chocolate Sparrow?

2” to 3”
Paved: Park your car at picture-book Oyster Pond, then head to Chatham Main Street to meander the old-fashioned village center free of crowds. There’s enough open in the off-season so that you can duck into the occasional bookstore or chocolate shop to shake off the chill. Off-road: No question that majestic South Beach (a.k.a. “Lighthouse Beach”) in Chatham is a winter favorite, but if you’ve got snowboots and the heart for tromping through the snow, opt for the long stretch of Hardings Beach that follows the dunes to picturesque Stage Harbor light.

After the walk: The burritos get the glory, but the town’s Corner Store is a great place to simply pour a cup of local brew and dust off an Adirondack chair on the porch.

3” + 

Paved: While everyone else heads to Vermont and New Hampshire, grab your snow boots, cross-country skis or snowshoes and escape to Truro to find that the Cape Cod National Seashore trail at Head of the Meadow may never be more gorgeous than when it is blanketed in white. Off-road: Technically, the trail at the Provincelands Dunes is paved, but as you ski or shoe through the historic dunescape in winter, you will never feel farther away from the whole wide world.

After the walk: That little glow on Commercial Street is Far Lands Provisions. Heaven = coffee, pastry, porch.