Chatham Short Walks on Cape Cod
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.
Sketch Map of Area
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.