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README before using our guides to Long Walks on Cape Cod

Long Walks on Cape Cod

Brewster Beach

Brewster Beaches

USGS Maps: Orleans, Harwich

Sketch Map of Route

Trailheads:    
1. Beach parking lot at the end of Crosby Lane, one-half mile north of Route 6A in Brewster.

2. Beach parking lot at the end of Paine's Creek Road, one-half mile north of Route 6A in
Brewster.

Guide:

The tidal flats of Cape Cod Bay, particularly in the Town of Brewster, are a unique environment. Walking the beaches next to the tidal flats is a strange and wondrous experience.  We do not recommend walking out on the flats because of the hazard of tidal
creeks between sand bars.

It is said that the Brewster Flats are the widest expanse of tidal flats in North America, rivaled in the western hemisphere only by a similar expanse in Brazil. The flats extend all the way to North Eastham, but this guide will take you on the beaches between two
creeks at either end of Brewster. The creeks run far out into the bay, and would require wading, even at dead low tide.

Pick a clear day, with not much wind. Then consult the tide chart carefully to begin no sooner than an hour and one-half before low tide. The entire hike is best done as a shuttle between the two trailheads. The straight line distance is seven miles.

You can park without charge at the beach parking lots between Labor Day and the middle of June. During the season, you must have a beach sticker for the Town of Brewster. Don't even THINK of parking on the side roads.

Starting from the Crosby Lane Beach parking lot, look for the foot path going east from the northeast corner of the lot. It is heavily used and easy to follow. Notice that the Orleans topographical map shows a line of shacks along the beach. They are all gone.

You then have a primitive seaside environment to walk along. To your right, high on a pole, is an osprey nest. During the summer, a large, ugly bird sits on the nest, glowering at passersby. If you look more carefully in June and July, you might also see the cute heads of a couple of the ugly bird's children looking at you curiously, or shouting for food if a parent has just arrived with a fish sandwich.  As the  signs warn you, do not go near the pole.

On your right is a marsh environment. Most of it is dry, with tributaries of Namskaket Creek winding through it. As the seascape opens to your left, you see the reach of Cape Cod Bay from Orleans to Wellfleet. Wellfleet Harbor and Great Beach Island are the farthest
points that you can see. On a very clear day, however, the Pilgrim Monument in Provincetown spikes upward to the left of the shore.

Continue walking east until the foot path brings you out to the beach. As you begin the trek west, you will see the Crosby Mansion looming up over the trees, beyond the Crosby Lane Beach parking lot. Then a little further down, a large grey-green structure sits on the
beach at Linnell Landing. That is "Linger Longer by the Sea," a wonderfully seedy old bed-and-breakfast that is now divided into summer condominiums. The Town of Brewster has a small parking lot at the end of Linnell Landing Road.

You will notice that the tidal flat has narrowed appreciably as you walk closer to "Linger Longer." It is narrow for another mile, then widens abruptly opposite Ellis Landing beach, to reach its maximum width at Paine's Creek.

Notice that west of Ellis Landing, some of the summer shacks on the bluff have been undermined and are tumbling into the bay. West of these are a row of elegant condominiums with yellow trim, part of the Sea Pines area, known as Pineland Park. Their beach is posted
"No trespassing," but walking along the beach is permitted.

Theoretically, the ownership of the shore extends to low tide, but it is an ancient colonial law both unenforced and unenforceable. If you were close to the bluff in the summer, you might be warned off. You would still have access, though, if you were carrying a fish pole, as the same law states that citizens have a right to "fish or fowl" between high and low tide lines anywhere along the shore.

Continuing your walk west around Point of Rocks, you will see a small parking area at the end of Point of Rocks Road. Along the shore are, indeed, numerous rocks presenting the usual hazard to navigation. On the flats, you may see, besides the ubiquitous gulls, ducks of
various colors, and flocks of hundreds of plovers.

About three-quarters of a mile further, you will see a green revetment on the shore in front of some low houses. To the left of the revetment is a sizeable parking area at the end of Breakwater Road. The scattering of rocks to the west looks as random as those around Point of Rocks. It is the remains of a manmade breakwater that served as a pier and harbor for the packet ships sailing to and from Boston in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Just west of Breakwater Point are massive, elegant houses in the Cobbs Pond area, looming up above the bluff. Their beach is not posted. If you walk the beaches in the winter, you may see
Buffleheads, a variety of duck with showy white plumage. About a mile from Breakwater Landing is a little parking area for Saints Landing Beach.

Then you will see that the bluff begins to descend to a marsh. At the east end of the marsh is the parking area for Robbins Hill Beach. Notice the grey and white house with so many walks and decks that it looks like a crenellated castle.

Look ahead to the two story white house on the bluff to the rear of the marsh. Set your sights on that for the walk to the Paine's Creek Beach parking area.