Long Walks on Cape Cod
Copyright l998 Cape Cod Trails Conference
Location: Head of the Meadow
USGS Maps: North Truro, Provincetown
1. Parking lot for Race Point Beach, at the end of Race Point Road, north of Route 6 in Provincetown.
2. National Seashore parking lot at the end of Head of the Meadow Road, east of Route 6 in Truro. Follow brown Seashore signs.
3. Province Lands Visitors Center on Race Point Road, north of Route 6 in Provincetown.
4. Highland Light parking lot, east off Highland Road in Truro. Follow green signs to Cape Cod Light.
The ten mile walk between trailheads 1 and 2 is best done as a shuttle, off season. During the summer months, both beaches are crowded, and there are parking charges at each parking lot. You can avoid the charges by parking at the Province Lands Visitors Center at the north end, and Highland Light at the south end, trailheads 3 and 4, adding three miles.
You can walk in either direction, but this guide will describe walking north from Head of the Meadow Beach. From the parking lot, walk back to the entrance to where the bicycle trail begins, marked by a sign. It is a two mile, paved path that ends at High Head Road. Walk along the edge of the path. Grass is easier on the legs, and it feels more like a hike. A detailed map of the bicycle trails is at Map of National Seashore Bicycle Trails in Eastham and Truro
At the end of the bicycle trail is a small parking lot. You can
use that as a trailhead if you only wish to walk the beach north to
Race Point Beach or to the Province Lands Visitors Center. Just above
you is the bluff called High Head, which affords a spectacular lookout
To reach it, you will have to walk south on High Head Road, then make a sharp left to climb the hill on the paved road to the houses at the top. Stay to the left and follow a seashell road to a foot path leading out to the bluff. Reverse to return.
Walk north on High Head Road to the beach. Notice the dune path heading south. The latter curves back to the bicycle trail, which can be used for a quick return if the weather turns foul.
But if the day is good, with not too much wind, walk the beach
to Race Point Beach. This is a magnificent six mile walk along
the northernmost shore of Cape Cod. Find firm footing on the
On your right is Peaked Hill Bar, site of many a shipwreck,
including the H.M.S. Somerset during the Revolution. At unusually
low tides, timbers of the ship have been visible on the bar. You may
also see whales in early fall, for their feeding ground at Stellwagen
If you get tired of walking the beach, walk up to the over sand vehicle route, where it is permitted. You may pass the famous Provincetown artists' shacks, which have been preserved by the National Seashore, and are used during the summer.
As you curve around toward Race Point Beach, the visible landmark
will be the Old Harbor Lifesaving Station. It is a weathered old
building with an observation tower. Walk up toward the parking lot
on the path just east of the station. Pause at the boardwalk to read
We warn you to very careful of the weather on this walk. Be sure that the forecast calls for clear conditions and little wind, with no possibility of a storm. Once committed to the beach walk, there is no bailout option save turning back, which may be as bad as continuing. Between the two trailheads is a ten mile walk, which will take a small group about five hours, plus a lunch stop.
For a shorter walk, turn right at the end of High Head Road, and walk the beach to the southeast. After one mile, a high knob appears. Climb to the top, if you wish, for a splendid view. Continue down the beach for a bit until the terrain is more level.
Walk inland to the path along the edge of the Salt Meadow. Soon you will see the parking lot for Head of the Meadow Beach dead ahead. This loop is four miles, and will take a small group about two hours.
Continuing south on the beach for about one-half mile, you will pass a parking lot with a vehicle barrier. This is at Highland Beach, at the end of Coast Guard Road. For a walk of an additional two miles, walk up to the road and inland for about one-quarter mile.
Where the road curves south, look for a deep track on the right heading west into the scrub. In about one-quarter mile, it joins a remnant of Old Kings Highway heading northwest. Follow that for one mile to come out at Head of the Meadow Beach.
Or continue walking south on Coast Guard Road and Highland Road, another 0.8 mile to trailhead 4, and visit Highland Light, or Cape Cod Light, as it was originally named. Reverse to Old Kings Highway to return to Head of the Meadow Beach.
We should also describe the one mile walk from Race Point Beach to Provincelands Visitors Center. Turn inland past the old life-saving station at Race Point Beach. Walk south through the parking lot to the end of the bicycle trail. Follow it directly to the Visitors Center, a little over one mile.