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Great Island in the Town of Wellfleet is perhaps the Cape's least visited hiking spots and though we are reluctant to write about it because we love its solitude and beauty, it's simply a wonderful way to spend time exploring the marshes, forests and beaches and shouldn't be missed.
In the Cape Cod National Seashore, Great Island gives you a glimpse of the unspoiled Cape. Though not hilly, it's a strenuous hike and you should be in reasonable shape to do the complete hike, a 8 1/2 mile trek through the sand, marshes and pine forests, that somehow feels longer on the way back when you have just an inch of water left in your bottle, your shoulders are burned, you're hungry and you have to use, em...the rest room.
If you plan to hike Great Island in the summer months, make sure you have plenty of water, snacks, hat, swimsuit, towel and a camera to grab all those beautiful shots.
Trust us, you'll burn through your water quite quickly and there is nothing worse than rationing water (yes, it's only a small hike but trust us, we felt like we were trekking through the Sahara at times-okay, that's a bit dramatic, but you get our point!)
You'll walk along marshes, though pitch pine forests, over dunes and land at Great Hill Beach, a quiet and warm bay beach, with gray seals and seagulls which outnumber visitors by a wide margin. Keep an eye out for the little burrows in the sandy path along the marsh- that's where you'll find thousands of Fiddler Crabs racing across the sand and somehow squeezing into their little homes.
When you're in the pitch pine forest, you can take a loop that takes you to the former site of the Great Island Tavern, a colonial era whaler's tavern but don't expect to order a lager or see any remains- there's just a marker noting the location.
Coming out of the forest, and hugging the marsh, the trail continues on to another pitch pine forest, but we opted to cut over a small dune to Great Hill Beach. (Don't worry, it's a path!) We swam here, enjoying the warm bay water and solitude, eventually walking on the beach toward Jeremy Point, a sandbar that is submerged during high tide.
Accessible only by foot or boat, Jeremy Point draws boaters, kayakers, and hikers to its changing shores so it's best to check the tidal charts before heading out this far. We looped around Jeremy Point and headed back along the marshes, stopping to take another dip in the shallow water because we were broiling under the midday sun.
And this is where we both got a bit crabby. Yes, our supplies were low, and we just wanted to get out of that sun but we pressed on, our faces burning, our tongues drying out like the marsh we walked through.
There are two parking lots- both on Chequessett Neck Road, though the first one, is best left to those carrying kayaks.
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