Barnstable: Bridge Creek Conservation Area. This may be the home of the Cape’s biggest uprooted tree, a slumped-over monster with an enormous root ball! Wide trails (2.5 miles worth) traverse woods, marshes and old bogs. A great old-timey West Barnstable vibe.
Bourne: Little Bay Park and Monks Park. What a view! You walk under a railroad bridge to Little Bay. Trails crisscross varied terrain--one even goes out to a little island-like point to find cool shells and driftwood.
Brewster: You’ll be loopy with joy on the Cliff Pond Loop trail at Nickerson State Park, an epic 3.1 mile leg-stretcher with great kettle pond views and quiet woodland passages. The bonus is that the park stops collecting a parking fee at the end of October, so all that beauty will be free.
Chatham: Morris Island Trail. Just the drive out to the Monomoy Island Wildlife Refuge visitor center is big view soul food. The trail begins with a couple of breathtaking vistas, then pops down a staircase and continues along a beach. A real Cape Cod, toes-in-the-sand kind of place.
Dennis: It’s gotta be Crowe’s Pasture in East Dennis. A big playground of dirt roads and trails through marshes and out to Cape Cod Bay where you can watch shellfishermen in action. Sunsets over Quivett Creek are splendid!
Eastham: Fort Hill Trail. Epic vistas out over Nauset Marsh and the wild Atlantic beyond, plus nicely-maintained fields and the super-bonus is that the trail connects to the recently-refurbished Red Maple Swamp boardwalk trail--an especially colorful place in fall.
Falmouth: Bourne Farm. It feels like old New England, with a farmhouse and fields leading to trails. There’s a wicked cool cattle tunnel under a former railroad bed and access to a herring run. And right next door is Bunker Tree Farm where you can cut your own Christmas tree.
Harwich: Bell’s Neck Conservation Lands. This place has it all—2.75 miles of trails, spots to launch kayaks and canoes and lots of herons and ospreys. It’s one of the best foliage spots on the Cape with deciduous trees and salt marshes working the colors into a symphony.
Mashpee: Dead Neck Trail. This makes a trip to South Cape Beach a special occasion. The trail winds through a sandy peninsula with pond and ocean views, out to a scenic breakwater at the entrance to Waquoit Bay. Get in a staring contest with the snowy owl.
Orleans: Twinings Pond Conservation Area. This out-of-the-way place is one of the most tranquil spots on Cape Cod. Twinings Pond is a beautiful mirror that catches reflections of sky and clouds and you can feel the worries of the day melt away in the ripples. The trails aren’t super long but they resonate!
Provincetown: Clapps Pond and Duck Pond Conservation Area. A one hour-long loop around a big hidden pond. Side trails take you out into the sandy Provincelands—good foliage, too.
Sandwich: Murkwood Conservation Area. Before I ever visited, I fell in love with the name. “Murkwood” sounds like an Edward Gorey story! The trails wind through the woods and the whole place is surrounded by salt marsh with great views of Scorton Creek. Good foliage spot, too.
Truro: Pamet Area Trail System: A cornucopia of vistas, history and even beach access to the Atlantic backshore. Trail winds up to a big view over Ballston Beach and there’s a creepy bog house remaining from cranberry farming days. Further along, the trail heads north into wilderness.
Wellfleet: Atlantic White Cedar Swamp Trail. Ancient cedar trees and copperish-green water make this the most creepily evocative trail on Cape Cod. The boardwalk has been newly-repaired.
Yarmouth: Historical Society of Old Yarmouth Nature/Botanical Trails: A great way to get away--right off Route 6A! 1.5 miles of trails with woods, ponds and a gigantic weeping beech that has to be seen to be believed!