Starting at Salt Pond Visitor Center in Eastham, the gateway to the Cape Cod National Seashore, the Nauset Marsh Trail runs 1.6 miles into National Seashore acreage once inhabited by the Nauset Indian tribe and early Cape Cod settlers. Ending at Coast Guard Beach, the trail here provides panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
A 3-mile round trip, the route first wanders through a large grove of cedar, pine and oak. Beyond, rolling countryside awaits along with a mid-trail bench serving as a convenient pit stop to rest and enjoy the scenery. Don’t forget to take a detour at the second stop sign to the Doane Memorial, a monument to Deacon John Doane. Right on the marsh, that site marks his 1644 homestead.
Back on the paved path, prepare to cross a wooden bridge which spans the marsh flowing into Salt Pond. This bridge was damaged by winter storms in 2009 and subsequently rebuilt during mid-2010. It is now vastly improved. A short distance up the hill is the old Coast Guard Station, overlooking Coast Guard Beach. The beach itself is a sprawling and beautiful site, with waves breaking as far as the eye can see in both directions. At times the surf can reach head high to overhead (6-8 foot) during a nor’easter or hurricane swell. Also, be sure to scan the shoreline for surfers who often share these water with curious harbor seals.
Parking & Directions
Parking is located at Salt Pond Visitor Center off Route 6 in Eastham. Just bear right at the signs for the National Seashore (heading east) and immediately turn right again into the lot, which is adjacent to the Nauset Marsh Trail entrance. The trailhead resides at the far end of the parking lot, curving right past a small plot of apple trees. Begin here and travel into a stand of locust trees to start your journey. Be sure to watch for other cyclists and pedestrians, as this is a well-traveled route during the summer season.