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Chatham Short Walks on Cape Cod

South Beach

Sketch Map of Area

Park at the parking lot for Chatham Light on Shore Road. You can access the beach at the stairs from the parking lot or from a path just a little further south on Shore Road.  Note the
warning that portions of the area are submerged at high tide. Head out to the ocean and walk along the edge of the ocean.  If you walk on the damp area where the tide has receded, the footing will be relatively firm, and the walking much less tiring.  Notice the remaining sand bar to your left, and Morris Island to your right.

At the east edge of South Beach, you will get the feeling that you are out in the middle of the ocean.  As Henry David Thoreau said, "You can stand here, and all America is behind you!"  As you walk further south, the sand bar disappears, and the breakers crash directly onto the beach.

Walking south, you pass one grassy knoll after another to your right.  About one-half mile past the last knoll, the terrain begins to become level.  At this point, walk west to the harbor side of South Beach.  Further south, you would get into a maze of tidal streams and pools, even at low tide.

As you walk west, you will be able to see South Monomoy Island to the south, and perhaps spot the lighthouse on it.  North Monomoy Island is directly in front of you.  Turn north, heading for Chatham Light.  Harwichport and Dennisport are visible, beyond the entrance
to Stage Harbor.

At low tide, you will see clammers busy with their rakes and buckets.  To residents, this vista is Cape Cod, and home.  To visitors, it borders on the exotic.  Look south from time to time to
see the expanse of islands and shoals.  To the west is the wildlife refuge. You may see hundreds of birds of all makes and models.

Continue walking north, winding around the shore.  The footing will be a little softer than on the ocean side, so experiment with the damp areas to find the firmest surface.  Cross over to return to the parking lot.


Morris Island

Sketch Map of Area

Topo Map

Park on the east side of the Morris Island causeway.  Pick up a sandy track at the south end of the causeway.  Walk southeast to the shore.  Then walk south along the beach.

You could also walk up to the Wildlife Refuge parking lot on Morris Island Road.  The marked trail from the entrance to the refuge, while short, is a very popular walk.  Descriptions of it are published in most guides to Cape Cod.  Look at the map on the sign board, and help yourself to a printed trail guide.  Flora and fauna at the numbered stops are described in it.

As you proceed down the trail, a lookout appears on your left which offers splendid views of South Beach and the Monomoy Islands. A set of steps takes you down to the beach, and from there, trail signs guide you along the way.  If you walked around Morris Island from the causeway, this is where you intersect the trail.

The trail leads you through the scrub in the interior, and past another entrance to the refuge.  Soon the trail sign directs you back to the beach.  Continue walking the trail to the southwest, which is obviously heavily used by locals.  Shortly you will have a complete view of Stage Harbor.  You can continue all the way to the harbor inlet, just opposite the old lighthouse.

This whole area is shown on the topographical map as flooded at high tide.  It is now, of course, high and dry.  The trail eventually meets a perpendicular track that goes to either side of the point. You may choose to go to the right, then walk completely around the point and return on the ocean side.  About 1.5 miles of walking brings you back to the steps from the wildlife refuge trail. 

Note:  The above is taken directly from our Long  Walk.  If you use the Topo Map (see link above), you will start at 001 and circle counterclockwise to 013, then proceed to 014 and counterclockwise to 016, doubly back to 018 on the back side of the dune.  Return to 001.  Exactly four miles.