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The Nauset Trail offers a winding route through dense Cape Cod woodlands, providing a pleasant respite from the oft-crowded seashore and tourist hubs. The trail is entirely paved, with the notable exception of a long boardwalk bridge along the northern edge of Nauset Bay. Be sure to pause to take in spectacular views of the wetlands and consider bringing binoculars for birdwatching.
The trail ends in the east—just beyond the boardwalk—at Coast Guard Beach, a swimming area so popular that the parking lot is limited to visitors with disabilities and park staff during the summer. Notably, the beach was the location of the Mayflower's first American landfall in 1620 before it moved on to its next stop at Provincetown Harbor, and ultimately its third and final destination at the Pilgrims' permanent settlement of Plymouth on mainland Massachusetts.
At the opposite end of the Nauset Trail, the Salt Pond Visitor Center can provide helpful information on the various destinations within the Cape Cod National Seashore, and a museum inside contains fascinating exhibits. Just beyond the center, a bike shop and lobster shack on US 6 welcome trail users in need of bike maintenance and gear or a bite to eat, respectively.
Conveniently, trail users can access the popular Cape Cod Rail Trail via a short on-road route from the trail's western end. Carefully cross busy US 6 at the crosswalk, and continue south on Salt Pond Road. When the road dead-ends at Locust Road, turn right (west). The Cape Cod Rail Trail intersects the road less than half a mile away.
Ample parking for the Nauset Trail is available at the Salt Pond Visitor Center (50 Nauset Road; just off US 6) in Eastham. Restrooms are also available, although the center has limited hours. Additional parking and seasonal restrooms can be found at the Doane Rock Picnic Area, located 1 mile east of the Salt Pond Visitor Center on Nauset Road (Doane Road).
In seasons other than summer, limited parking can also be found at Coast Guard Beach on Ocean View Drive (off Doane Road). Note that beach entrance fees are charged when lifeguards are on duty. Visit the Cape Cod National Seashore's official Fees & Passes website for more information.
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