"A man may stand there and put all America behind him." Henry David Thoreau The great Outer Beach described by Thoreau in the 1800s is protected within the national seashore. Forty miles of pristine sandy beach, marshes, ponds, and uplands support diverse species. Lighthouses, cultural landscapes, and wild cranberry bogs offer a glimpse of Cape Cod's past and continuing ways of life. Swimming beaches and walking and biking trails beckon today's visitors.
Peter G. on Great Island Trail
It's a great place Great Island. What I didn't expect was the amount of walking in soft sand...'twas a bit draining. Also it it's longer that stated. More like a 6 mile loop.
Quick and easy trail from the salt pond out to the beach was about 15-20min bike ride on the trail. We had age ranges from 8-56 years old varying levels on being in shape and out of shape. Has a couple of hills to climb and cruise down. Getting to the beach is very cool with not too many people there where you can see seals and some historical coast guard buildings. Great views as well.
I had bad luck bird-wise on the afternoon I went, but the boardwalk is beautiful. Beware that the entrance described in the directions is no longer open and it's not possible to make a loop. To access the boardwalk, either approach from the Penniman House or walk the paved trail to the Sharpening stone, continue on the trail to the right and make another right into the swamp area.
I chose this trail for a morning dog walk/birding outing. It was a bit confusing at first because there is nothing saying "Old King's trail", but I quickly realized that it's now called "Head of the Meadow Bike Trail". It's paved and leads to Pilgrim Heights. At the far end there is a sand road leading to the beach, so you could make a loop back to the parking lot by walking the beach back. Contrary to the description, it goes through coastal scrub forest all the way. There is no river! Nice forest but a bit monotonous.
It had a lot of everything. Groomed hard packed beach trails, marshes, challenging soft sand beaches, narrow forest trails, sun, shade, gentle hills, flat coastal areas, hermit crabs, minnow-filled tide pools, 450-million year old horseshoe crabs, etc. Well marked, but good luck finding the 18th C. Whaler's Tavern. Don't know why it's marked moderate; it's quite easy, and as long as you want it to be.
Daniel M. on Marconi Beach Walk Trail
Great beaches. Crowds were sparse even in early August.
Samantha H. on Province Lands Trail
It was too foggy to see the views from the hilltop but this short and easy hike was worth it just to look at the interesting vegetation and to show our nephew the cranberry bog. Very well maintained trails and great for kids!
A map and interesting facts about the vegetation and history can be found here: https://www.nps.gov/caco/planyourvisit/upload/FinalPametrackcards.pdf
It was well-worth a read ahead of the hike so we could explain the significance of what we were looking at to our nephew along the hike.