Cape Cod Walking
Visiting Cape Cod
Cape Cod Walking Adventures
by George Bogosian
OK, I’m more of an outdoor nature guy, some of the time, and that will be the direction on my Cape’s adventures I’ll tell you about…. although I’m feeling obligated to mention a couple of eating and water holes.
But first…. Fort Hill and Red MapleSwamp trail is one of my favorites and is located off Route 6 in Eastham.
There’s a brown sign on the right telling you of the upcoming turn to Fort Hill. It’s a great overlook of the bay and there’s a field and a wooden boardwalk built above the swamp area. There are interpretive signs to help you with identification of the vegetation. It’s a great place for early morning sun rises because of its southeast facing view. It’s a high piece of land with great sweeping views out across the marsh land to the open sea. It was a lookout location for British ships during the American Revolution. It’s 100 acres of old Cape Cod under the protection of the National Park Service. I’ve watch my share of Great Blue Herons fishing in the marsh and hawks sweeping overhead. If you walk without your voice you’ll see small rabbits eating all along the way.
You can see the Coast Guard Lighthouse from different Fort Hill locations.
A pair of binoculars is useful and a good pair makes all the difference in the viewing experience. (Side bar) It’s taken me some time to appreciate that fact. They don’t have to be expensive. I have a pair of Bushnell Nature View, 8x42, that I put up against some expensive ones and these held their own. I compromised on a larger size against the compact variety and saved some money and received good quality. For you birders there's a great shop not to miss on Route 6a in Orleans that has great products and local birding information. It’s called Bird Watchers General Store. With a little insistence they'll reveal some secrets.
There’s no charge for the visit to Fort Hill and the trails.... and there never seems to be many folks visiting the area. There’s parking down below the hill for about 20 cars and probably parking for 15 cars up at the hill. It’s a nature place and that doesn't seem to be high on people’s visiting desires. Works for me! It’s a quiet place with great bird watching on land and the marsh area over look offers great binocular viewing. I've included a video that you don’t see often. It’s a hawk catching one of the many rabbits on the edge of the field. The hawk didn't see me under the tree and attacked about 10 feet from me. What a surprise to me… and the rabbit! It was quite an experience.
I’m always amazed at the sharpening rock that the Nauset Indians used to sharpen their knives and fishing hooks.
The grooves are there for all to see and feel the history in front of them. There’s nothing like a tactile experience to understand and feel history. You’ll find this rock in the wooded area about halfway through the trail walk. It also overlooks the marsh area. The rock was found on the nearby beach and moved to this location for all to witness the history. There’s information here talking about the rock and the fishing grounds of the Nauset Indians and other history.
You can walk or drive to the town landing at Hemenway to put in your kayak to paddle the marsh area. Pay attention to the tides as with all coastal boating. The Captain Penniman House is also here and you can view the exterior and see a whale jaw bones walkway entrance. The Fox Hill B&B looks like the real thing and is located across the street from the captain’s house. It is quiet, quaint and a lovely establishment.
Fort Hill is a quiet contemplative spot to visit on what can be a busy bustling Cape. It puts you in touch with the Cape and its earlier times.
As promised…. a couple of local hangouts for good grub and drink. Land Ho at 38 Main St in Orleans has “great food, great service, great local atmosphere” and I agree with this establishments assessment of itself. I've been there a few times and twice the same gentleman was sitting beside me at the bar. (I came for the scallop dinner) He remembered me and that may speak to something about him…or me. Number two is in Chatham at 487 Main Street and is called The Squire. “A family restaurant with a multi-cultural menu and an entertaining cast with both crew and customer” is its description. If you've been to Chatham you probably have heard of this establishment. It’s worth a visit and a meal. There are others... but I don't want to tire you out.
I own these:
Red-Tail Hawk hunting rabbits at Fort Hill.
Fort Hill & Red Maple Swamp Trail Brochure
History of the Fort Hill area & trail map.