Sunday, January 31, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 15 - Nickerson State Park

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund
Trip 15: Nickerson State Park, Brewster, Mass.
January 28, 2010
            Worthy of its own article and worthy of more than one trip on its grounds Nickerson State Park in Brewster is in my opinion one of the crown jewels of hiking and natural beauty on Cape Cod.  Located on Route 6A just a short drive from Exit 12 off of the Mid-Cape highway, Nickerson is a huge attraction for locals and visitors alike.  It is a prime area for freshwater swimming and camping as well as hiking and bicycling.  I have been coming here for more than twenty years and with each visit I find something new and exciting in my travels.
            Set on 1,900 acres of prime land, Nickerson houses many kettle ponds formed by glaciers over 10,000 years ago.  The campsites offer breathtaking views and the sweet scents of the pine forest that no words can describe.  The park bears the name Roland J. Nickerson in honor of the multimillionaire who owned the land in the late 19th century.  His mansion is now the Ocean Edge Resort and Club in Brewster.
            There are times during a hike around Big Cliff Pond(right), or as you ride through the eight miles of bike trails that you may actually feel as though you are in the middle of nowhere.  However, there is actually a trail located at the far end of Nook Road that comes within a few hundred feet of the highway.
            The first place to visit upon entering the park is Flax Pond(left).  Located on the first left after entering Flax Pond is, along with Big Cliff Pond, the most popular places for families to come and enjoy themselves.  Since none of these kettle ponds have streams or rivers to feed them water their level can fluctuate year to year.  Flax Pond has canoes for rent a short walk from the main entrance and with no current the water is very safe and easy to navigate for paddler and swimmer alike.
            At the end of Flax Pond Road you will find Big and Little Cliff Pond.  At their closest the two kettles are separated by about seventy-five feet but they never do connect.  Canoeing is also available here and there are boat ramps available for people coming with their own water transportation.  Up on a hill, a short walk up a lot of steps, brings you to a picnic area with an amazing aerial view of Big Cliff Pond.  In summer when the picnic area would be used the view is quite obscured by the green plants and trees, but on this trip in the dead of winter you could see all the way around the periphery of the pond.  There are cabins for camping at the top of the hill as well and just about any parking area along the whole of Nickerson can be made into an impressive hike.  As much as I am mentioning great places to see at Nickerson State Park there really is no bad spot to choose.  It is just as much fun to point yourself in one direction and just go.
            Further along down Nook Rd. there is a popular fishing spot on Big Cliff Pond.  There is a small dirt parking area located amongst the trees.  The roads at Nickerson although they have names are really just one long road that carries you from the entrance at Rt. 6A to the dead end near the highway.  Flax Pond Rd. is one side road to check out as is Nan-Ke-Rafe Path which is dirt and leads to Rafe Pond.
            Camp Nan-Ke-Rafe, located on the grounds is a seventeen acre campground run by Dream Day On Cape Cod who runs camps in summer in support of special needs children and their families.  The grounds can be walked at any time of year.  There is a parking area right before the entrance to Nickerson for those wishing to bike ride through the park.  Barb’s Bike Shop has a location there and has a great selection of bikes and rental prices that won’t hurt your wallet.
  Also it would not be a proper day out at Nickerson during the summer without stopping at Cobies, a popular restaurant located just before you reach Nickerson.  It has a great atmosphere with outside picnic tables and has been serving great fried food since 1948.  A visit here can be the perfect end or beginning to your day, I know it has been for me many times!    
            Nickerson State Park is a perfect spot for a picnic, for a family outing, or to just take some time to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of untouched nature.  This wonderful escape can be enjoyed at any time of year and is a great change of pace from the crowded beaches.  Make it a point to visit Nickerson, no matter what route you choose you will find some amazing scenery.  Have fun and happy traveling!  
Directions:  From the highway, take exit 12.  Head west on Rt. 6A for 1.7 miles, Nickerson is on the left.  Barb’s Bike Shop is next left following Nickerson entrance.  Cobies is 1,000 feet up on the left.
ReferencesDream Day On Cape Cod
            Barb's Bike Shop

Saturday, January 30, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 14: Brewster, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund
Trip 14: Brewster, Mass.
January 28, 2010

            Brewster is a classic small town with a mix of the modern and the quaint.  It may have the most natural beauty of any town on the mid-Cape with the Natural History Museum as well as Nickerson State Park which will be addressed in its own article.  First incorporated in 1803, carved out from the northern part of Harwich, Brewster was named for William Brewster one of the leaders of the Pilgrims.  The sights and history start almost immediately when you cross over into Brewster from Dennis.  This little village is also filled with cozy Bed & Breakfasts that look like they are straight out of the 19th Century.  The best part is that you do not have to travel very far to find natural and historical beauty.
            On Rt. 6A as you cross into Brewster you come across Drummer Boy Park which houses the Old Higgins Farm Windmill(left).  It was built in 1795 and has been moved several times before winding up in its current location.  Also on the Drummer Boy Park grounds is the Harris-Black House also built in 1795.  The park area is grassy and wide open, perfect for recreation and picnicking. 
            Almost immediately after exiting Drummer Boy Park you will find the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.  There are trails on the south side of Rt. 6A that take you across a marsh and into the surrounding woods.  The Natural History Museum itself is filled with amazing exhibits featuring the local wildlife and ecology.  It is open everyday during the summer and most days during the spring and fall.  It is what is behind the museum that truly makes the trip memorable, a prime example of what the Natural History Museum’s exhibits are all about. 
            Located across Quivett Creek Marsh and only accessible at low tide is Wing Island.  The John Wing Trail which begins as a series of boards across the mucky marsh leads you across the wooded land and out to Cape Cod Bay is named for John Wing.  Wing was the first white settler to live within the boundaries of what was old Harwich in 1656.  The island trail has several openings which allow a broad view of Quivett Creek Marsh and Cape Cod Bay(right) simultaneously.  The land is filled with birds, butterflies and sweet smelling flowers during the warmer months but it is still an amazing piece of natural beauty during the winter.  Remember that the marsh trail leading to Wing Island is submerged during high tide so check the charts before heading out there.  Paine’s Creek is visible from the beach at Wing Island but in order to get to the beach you must leave the Natural History Museum and head down 6A.  It is a great swimming beach as it is on the bay side of the Cape and therefore has less surf.
            If you follow Paine’s Creek Road to Stony Brook Road you will find a pair of well known attractions.  The Stony Brook Herring Run(right) is a popular site for children and adults alike, especially during the spring when the herring spawn.  During the spring the narrow brook is choked with the fish but as tempting as it may seem, taking them from the grounds is not permitted.  However, it does not have to be spring to enjoy the herring run.  Lower Mill Pond empties through the herring run and out into Paine’s Creek and the series of ‘fish ladders,’ a sort of man made funneling system for the fish, make a constant rush of water that overpowers most other sound.  There is also an old wishing well on the grounds and a walking bridge over the brook that allows for tremendous views of the natural beauty no matter what the season.
            Across the street from the herring run is the Stony Brook Grist Mill(left).  The original mill was 200-years old when it burnt to the ground in 1871, the current mill was built on the original foundation two years later.  It houses a museum inside and is still in operation despite being nearly 140-years old.  The mill has an amazing wooden wheel affixed to its side; this spot is a very popular photographic site.
            A beautiful place to stay and a beautiful place to explore, Brewster holds many natural and historical attractions.  It should be a destination for any traveler wishing to visit Cape Cod.  Any time of year you can enjoy all of the sites Brewster has to offer.  Have fun and happy traveling!
Directions: Drummer Boy Park: On Rt. 6A travel east into Brewster.  The park is located shortly after entering the town on the left side.  The windmill stands on the left side of the park with the Harris-Black house sitting behind it.
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History & Wing Island: On Rt. 6A travel east into Brewster.  The Natural History Museum is a very short drive from Drummer Boy Park and is designated by a large sign.  Wing Island is behind the museum across the marsh, accessible only at low tide.
Paine’s Creek: On Rt. 6A travel east, pass Drummer Boy Park and the Natural History Museum.  Bear left onto Lower Rd. and take first left onto Paine’s Creek Rd.  Follow road to beach parking lot.
Stony Brook Herring Run & Grist Mill: On Rt. 6A heading east turn right onto Paine’s Creek Rd.  Turn right onto Stony Brook Rd.  The herring run and mill are 1,000 feet away.  Parking is on herring run side of road.
            Brewster Historical Society
            Cape Cod Herring Runs
           Brewster By the Sea Bed & Breakfast

Friday, January 29, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 13: Wellfleet, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund
Trip 13: Wellfleet, Mass.
January 26, 2010

            Nestled deep in the heart of the Cape Cod National Seashore, Wellfleet is a picture perfect example of vintage Cape Cod.  Any turn off of Rt. 6 will lead you into the natural wonders of the Seashore, you can’t go wrong with any road you choose.  Wellfleet also houses one of the last remaining Drive-In theaters in the country; this is open during the warmer months and is a trip down memory lane.
            The first spot I found was actually a left turn off of Rt. 6.  In the hopes of finding a spot I had never before seen I took a turn onto Coles Neck Road.  The area I found was Bound Brook Island.  It consists of an amazing scenic beach(left) but getting to it is the hardest part.  Bound Brook Island Road is dirt and uneven, it might be better to park and walk or bike to it if you do not have a four-wheel drive vehicle.  The land along side the road comes up a few feet and makes it feel like you are driving down a chute; there are very few places to turn around until the small beach parking lot.
            Once you make it to the beach though it will all seem worth it.  There is a sandy pathway leading over the dunes to a beach with a tremendous view across Cape Cod Bay.  On a clear day it is possible to see straight across to Plymouth and other South Shore communities.  The view from the shore is amazing, but there is another spot that has the best view of all.  There is a sloping sandy hill at the beach at the end of Bound Brook Island Road with a path leading to its seventy-plus foot high peak.  From there you will feel like you can see from Provincetown to Maine.  This view in and of itself made the tough trek to the beach a mere footnote.
            The next place I visited is a lot like Bound Brook Island.  It is an island and is very difficult to get to, but the views are worth it.  Lieutenant Island is a little south of Bound Brook and is only accessible at low tide.  There is a bridge which passes over the marshy area(right) and although this bridge is slightly elevated the surrounding land is underwater at high tide.  If you plan to visit please check tide charts as it would be easy to become stranded.  The dirt roads can be treacherous so as with Bound Brook Island it is better to hike or take a bicycle if you do not have a sufficient vehicle.       
            Lieutenant Island is filled with summer homes and on this day was virtually deserted.  It is quiet and secluded in the colder months with beach views of Loagy Bay to the east and Cape Cod Bay to the west.  At times it can be an odd sort of clash between the wetlands and forest areas but that unpredictable scenery is what adds to the allure of this tiny island.
            The next area I visited is much easier to get to.  The Marconi Station Site is on the Atlantic Ocean side of Wellfleet and hovers precariously above a sharp cliff and pounding surf.  The site is a dedication to Guglielmo Marconi who in 1901 oversaw the building of the first transatlantic wireless telegraph station: The first radio station.  In 1903 the first wireless message was sent from a spot not too far from the dedication site across the Atlantic from President Theodore Roosevelt to King Edward VII of England.  The station that once stood here also was one of the first to receive distress calls from the Titanic after it struck the iceberg in 1912.
            There is a platform on a hill near the dedication site that offers a wide view of the Atlantic and the Seashore lands surrounding the Marconi site(right).  The site originally had four 210-foot tall wooden towers in a square around the transmitter building when built.  Due to heavy erosion of the cliffs however the site only remained operational for sixteen years and was closed and dismantled in 1917.  This is a great place for historians and nature lovers alike to visit.  Seeing the small scale model of the original Marconi site it is easy to close your eyes and imagine seeing those giant towers from all around Wellfleet.
            As awe-inspiring as the Marconi site and scale model are for historians there is a place that produces the same feeling for nature lovers just across the parking lot.  A mile long hike into the sandy pine forest will lead you to the White Cedar Swamp(left) which seems so out of place along the beaches and ocean.  The land leading up to the swamp is common for Cape Cod but the White Cedar Swamp seems to come up out of nowhere.  There is a boardwalk to lead you through the area.  The trees block out most of the sun allowing only trickles of light to splash through to the water.  It is a dusky feeling even in midday that is strange and beautiful.  It is one of the most recommended spots to visit on all of Cape Cod as words and images can only do so much to describe this wondrous setting.
            At the end of the day Wellfleet takes its places among the other Cape Cod towns with its share of nature and history that sums up what the Cape is all about.  Rt. 6 is barren and quiet at this time of year but during the summer months lodging and food are easy to find.  No matter the time of year though the sites of Wellfleet can be enjoyed by any visitor.  Have fun and happy traveling!
Directions: Bound Brook Island: From Rt. 6 head north past Wellfleet Center.  Turn left onto Coles Neck Rd.  This road becomes Bound Brook Island Rd.  Follow it for about a mile and turn left, this is still Bound Brook Island Rd.  Follow the road straight to the beach, go slow and be careful the road is dirt and narrow.
Lieutenant Island: From Rt. 6 head north about 1.5 miles past the Wellfleet Drive-In.  Turn left onto Lieutenant Island Rd.  Follow it over the bridge at the marsh.  Drive slowly and carefully as the island roads are dirt and fragile.
Marconi Site & White Cedar Swamp: From Rt. 6 turn right onto Marconi Beach Rd.  Bear left and follow road to parking lot.  Marconi Site is toward the beach.  White Cedar Swamp is located on far left of parking lot designated by a sign.
            Welcome to Wellfleet
            Hiking Lieutenant Island

Thursday, January 28, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 12: Orleans, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund
Trip 12: Orleans, Mass.
January 26, 2010

From the air Cape Cod is shaped like an arm with the Cape Cod Canal at the shoulder and Provincetown as the hand.  If we see Cape Cod in that way then Orleans would be considered the elbow, and in many ways it is.  The elbow connects the upper and lower arm, Orleans connects the two segments of Cape Cod as well.  West of Orleans is the more modern segment of the Cape including larger towns like Hyannis and Falmouth.  East and North of Orleans house the quainter and more secluded spots on the Cape like the National Seashore.  Orleans represents the last real taste of 21st Century Cape Cod on the way to the Outer Cape. 

A trip to Orleans, especially in summer, inevitably leads you to the famous Nauset Beach(right).  Nauset Beach, named for the Native American tribe that originally inhabited the area, is one of the best spots to surf up and down the east coast and is one of the most popular as well.  Being located along where Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean collide, Nauset Beach is privy to some rough seas and large waves.  Even on a day like today, when the tide was low, the waves were larger than anything seen along the shores of Cape Cod.  Even if you are not a surfer, or even if you don’t like to swim, taking a walk along Nauset Beach is a must.  Listening to and watching the waves crash on the shore is a soothing almost meditative experience, if you lose yourself in the moment you may look up and suddenly find yourself miles from the parking lot!

The road to Nauset Beach itself holds some great places to eat like the Nauset Beach Club Restaurant, but there are some neat sights as well.  One such place is the little known, out of the way Sea Call Farm(left).  Located off of Nauset Beach Road on Tonset Road, this historic site was actively farmed from 1931-1950 and is now a conservation area owned by the town.  It can be walked year round and a pathway behind the farmhouse leads to a breathtaking view across Town Cove to a state boat ramp near the Orleans Rotary. 

As you head away from the Atlantic Ocean side of Orleans toward the Cape Cod Bay side you pass another historic site along Rt. 28 that can be very easy to miss.  Windmills, like lighthouses, are synonymous with Olde Cape Cod.  As if symbolizing Orleans’s status as the separation between the old and new of Cape Cod the Jonathan Young Windmill(left) sits directly across from the last major shopping center as you travel east along the Cape.  The Jonathan Young windmill was originally built 1720 in South Orleans and in 1897 was actually moved to Hyannisport.  In 1983 the windmill was given to the Orleans Historical Society in 1983 and subsequently donated to the town.  It is open to the public in July and August.  The windmill park is located right on Town Cove which is easy to walk down to from the site.
Located on the other side of Orleans are two more spots that must be seen and enjoyed on any trip to the Cape.  Skaket Beach and Rock Harbor both face Cape Cod Bay and are filled with amazing scenery.  Skaket Beach lies at the end of Skaket Beach Road while Rock Harbor is easy to find from either Rt. 6A or the Orleans Rotary.  You may walk Skaket Beach all the way to the Namskaket Marsh located a little over half a mile away. 

Rock Harbor and Skaket Beach(right) are both places to go for splendid sunsets.  At Rock Harbor there are trees spaced out into the harbor that help to guide boats.  It is a sight that will make you do a double take when it is first seen and what Rock Harbor is known for.  The trees are not there during the winter time and I am not sure what is done with them.  There is plenty of parking, the beach on the western side of the harbor can be walked to a salt marsh while the eastern side of the harbor walk can be taken to Boat Meadow.
While it may be a sort of gateway between old and new on Cape Cod, Orleans has more than its share of places to see.  Make sure to stop in and see these places on your way to wherever you are going.  Have fun and happy traveling!

Directions: Nauset Beach: From Rt. 28 East, turn right onto Main Street.  There are signs leading to Nauset Beach.  Follow Main Street, it becomes Beach Road.  Follow this road to the beach parking lot.
Sea Call Farm: From Rt. 28 East, turn right onto Tonset Road.  Follow it for just over half a mile.  Sea Call Farm appears on the left side.
Jonathan Young Windmill Park: Take Rt. 28 East until it intersects with Rt. 6A.  The windmill park is 1,000 feet ahead on the right side.
Rock Harbor: From Orleans Rotary take exit marked Rock Harbor Rd.  Follow this road for 1.5 miles until you reach the harbor.  The main parking area is on the left side.
Skaket Beach: From Rt. 28 East turn left on Eldredge Pkwy.  Continue onto W Rd. and subsequently onto Skaket Beach Rd.  Follow this to the parking area.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 11 - Eastham, Mass.

In My Footsteps

Christopher Setterlund

Trip 11: Eastham, Mass.

January 26, 2010

It is the gateway to the Outer Cape. Once you pass through the Orleans Rotary into Eastham it is as if you have traveled to a different place and time. Except for very sparse clusters of shops and restaurants along Route 6 the remainder of Cape Cod up to Race Point in Provincetown is nearly unchanged from the 19th Century. It is out here that the true soul of Cape Cod can still be felt. Eastham is only the first stop through the Outer Cape, but like the other towns it has many amazing sights that need to be discovered.

The first place comes up on you fast along Route 6. A sign on the right points you toward Fort Hill. Before reaching the scenic overlook there is a parking lot on the left directly across from a piece of Cape history. The Penniman House(left), built in 1867 by rich whaler Captain Edward Penniman, was the most expensive house in town when it was built. It was a testament to his fortune he had gained through seven successful whaling voyages; his love for whaling is also depicted by the pair of whale ribs acting as a trellis to enter the front yard. After taking a stroll around the grounds of this marvelous olde mansion it is a short drive up to the lookout area of Fort Hill. There is a panoramic view of Salt Pond Bay and the Atlantic Ocean with a trail to lead you down to the water, or back toward the Red Maple Swamp.

The next stop up along Rt. 6 is First Encounter Beach(right). A left turn at the set of lights at Samoset Road leads you past Windmill Green. This winding road will take you to the beach area. This beach is historic as it is the place where the initial, peaceful meeting between Myles Standish and the crew of the Mayflower met up with the local Nauset Indians in 1620. The Mayflower crew kept on to Plymouth and the village of Eastham was not settled by the Pilgrims for another twenty-four years in 1644. At low tide there is a mass of open wet sand and mudflats for shell fishing. There are frequent seal and sea turtle sightings along the eastern most Cape beaches and signs posted around them alert you to this fact and ask you to leave them alone.

Nauset Road, a right turn less than a mile from Samoset Road takes you to my favorite spot in the town of Eastham: Nauset Light(right). Nauset Light, located on a hill overlooking the similarly named Nauset Light Beach, was originally built in Chatham in 1877. The cast iron giant was to be dismantled in 1993 but was saved through a tremendous effort by the Nauset Light Preservation Society. It is open Sunday’s during the spring, summer, and fall.

There are actually three more lighthouses located only a third of a mile away on Cable Road. The ‘Three Sisters’ lighthouses can easily be missed by travelers as they are not located on the shores of Cape Cod, but instead they sit spaced out across an open field. Their story is possibly the most amazing of all of the Cape lighthouses but it also the least known.

The diminutive Three Sisters, only fifteen feet tall as opposed to the forty-eight foot tall Nauset Light, originally sat overlooking Nauset Light Beach from as far back as 1838. The original brick houses were replaced in 1892 with the wooden structures that are still standing. After being systematically separated during the 1920’s to make way for the recently moved Nauset Light, the Three Sisters were one by one purchased by the National Park Service. In 1983, after 73 years apart the Sisters were reunited in the field where they currently sit. They were restored and placed in the field at the same distance apart as they had been when they watched over the Atlantic. Only the middle Sister(left), the last one that stood over Nauset Light Beach, still has its lantern adorning its top; there was not enough funding to repair the lantern rooms on the other two.

Nauset Light Beach, as well as most beaches up and down the National Seashore area of Cape Cod, showcase the biggest waves and are hot spots for surfers at all time of year. During this trip there were several surfers out on the waters near Coast Guard Beach located at the other end of Ocean View Drive from Nauset Light. The Outer Cape in general due to the rough seas has claimed more than 3,000 vessels in 400 years. It was this fact that led to the founding of the Massachusetts Humane Society which set up nine stations along the eastern coast of Cape Cod. They would be there to rescue and assist any ships in need. There is a set of trails that lead from Coast Guard Beach to Nauset Marsh. The boardwalk area is great for bird watching and photography.

Though it is considered the gateway to the National Seashore by many, Eastham is a prime spot for nature and history. Rather than just passing through on your way to the Seashore or to Provincetown make it a point to check out the places mentioned here as well as many of the other gems hidden around this 350-year old village. Have fun and happy traveling!

Directions: Fort Hill & Penniman House: Follow Rt. 6 north, there is a sign for Fort Hill. Bear right, the Penniman House is on the right, the Fort Hill overlook is straight ahead.

First Encounter Beach: Follow Rt. 6 north for just over 2 miles after Orleans Rotary. Turn right at sign for First Encounter Beach at Samoset Rd. Follow the road to the beach.

Nauset Light: Follow Rt. 6 north 2.75 miles, bear right onto Nauset Rd. Keep straight, road turns into Doane Rd., turn left onto Ocean View Rd. Follow it to the end. Nauset Light should be visible, Nauset Light Beach parking lot is on the right. The Three Sisters Lighthouses are a 1/3mi. walk down Cable Rd.

Coast Guard Beach: From Nauset Light Beach follow Ocean View Dr. back south.

References: Cape Cod Travel - Eastham

The Three Sisters Lighthouses

Nauset Light Preservation Society

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 10 - Barnstable, Mass.

In My Footsteps
Christopher Setterlund
Trip 10: Barnstable, Mass.
January 24, 2010
            Is it possible for one town to have two names?  In the case of Barnstable, yes it is.  People call the town Barnstable and Hyannis and they are both correct.  Barnstable is usually the name associated with the historic district along Route 6A while Hyannis is seen as the area with all of the stores and restaurants along Routes 28 & 132.
            The town of Barnstable, founded in 1639, got its name from the town of Barnstaple, England.  As you enter the town from the highway there is a sign along Willow Street noting this fact.  Heading south on Willow Street will lead you into Hyannis while heading north leads you into the historic district of Barnstable.  On this trip I went north toward Rt. 6A.
            A left turn onto Rt. 6A will eventually lead you to a set of traffic lights.  Heading right takes you down Millway along Barnstable Harbor.  The road ends at the small Millway Beach parking lot which has a tremendous view of the Sandy Neck Trails and the cottages and lighthouse that adorn the point(left).  I covered the trails here: Sandy Neck Trails.  There are extensive mudflats which become exposed at low tide and are popular for shell fishing.    
            Along historic Rt. 6A after exiting Millway you will find the Barnstable County Courthouse(below) standing stoically over the other buildings.  Built in 1831 this is not even the oldest courthouse in the village.  That honor belongs to the appropriately named Olde Colonial Courthouse.  Located just up the road from the current courthouse near Rendezvous Lane this building, which currently houses the Tales of Cape Cod historical society, was built in 1772 and served as the county’s courthouse until 1838. 

Located on the front lawn of the Barnstable County Courthouse are statues depicting Colonial lawyer James Otis who some argue actually sewed the seeds of the American Revolution through a speech in 1761 as well as his sister Mercy Otis Warren.  She is widely considered the ‘Conscience of the American Revolution.’
            About a half a mile up on the left is the narrow opening of Old Jail Lane.  This road once housed the oldest wooden jail in the United States.  Built in 1690, the ‘Old Jail’ was moved from its former location on Old Jail Lane in 1971 to its current location on Cobb’s Hill behind the Coast Guard Heritage Museum only a few minutes drive away. 
Old Jail Lane can be a very spooky ride at dusk and there is a great set of trails which are accessible from here, the Cape Cod Community College parking lot, or at another entrance located diagonally from the Lamb and Lion Inn on Rt. 6A.  The trails are easy to follow thanks to color coded arrows and detailed maps located throughout the trail area.

            Entering the trails from the West Barnstable parking lot on Rt. 6A leads you up a steep hill that gives way to an unexpected and spectacular view.  The wide open rolling hills that stretch out give you a feeling of being on the shores of Ireland rather than Cape Cod(right).  This entrance is highly recommended specifically for the amazing views.  There aren’t any water views but the sights and sounds of Cape Cod’s natural beauty will be enough to keep you interested.      

            Another great recreation area is Hathaways Pond located on Phinney’s Lane(left).  It is hidden a bit from the busy road and has a swimming area and swings for children.  The half-mile loop trail leading around the circumference of the pond is packed with views of the pond from all heights and angles.  It is perfect for the warmer months.    
            Barnstable Village is filled with beautiful scenery and amazing historical relics as are most places along Rt. 6A.  If you are lucky enough to find a parking spot during the warmer months most of the places visited here can be seen in one walk.  Whether you walk or drive to all of these places make sure to take time out to see them all.  It is definitely worth the trip.  Have fun and happy traveling!
Directions: Millway Beach: Take Rt. 6A to the set of lights at the intersection with Hyannis Road.  Turn down Millway and follow it.  Barnstable Harbor comes up on the left and the small parking lot for Millway Beach is at the end of the road.  
Old Jail: Heading east on 6A take you last left before the lights at the intersection with Millway, this is the Coast Guard Heritage Museum, the Old Jail is located in the house directly behind it.  Old Jail Lane is ½ mile from the Courthouse on the left.  The road’s entrance is very narrow and could be mistaken for a driveway, go slow to find the turn.
Barnstable County Courthouse: On Rt. 6A heading east go through set of lights for Millway Beach.  Courthouse in on the hill just past the fire department.
Olde Colonial Courthouse: Keep on Rt. 6A past the center of Barnstable Village, the building that was the courthouse and is now a museum is located on the right near Rendezvous Lane and across from St. Mary’s Church.
Hathaway’s Pond: Heading east on 6A turn left at lights onto Hyannis Road.  Stay right, Hyannis Road becomes Phinney’s Lane.  Follow Phinney’s Lane for nearly a mile.  Entrance for Hathaway’s Pond is on the right and designated by a blue and white oval sign.
References: The Old Jail
            Barnstable Historical Society
            Tales of Cape Cod

Monday, January 25, 2010

In My Footsteps: Trip 9: Yarmouth Port, Mass.

In My Footsteps

Christopher Setterlund

Trip 9: Yarmouth Port, Mass.

January 23, 2010

Being the most historic roadway on Cape Cod Route 6A is chock full of places to see. So many in fact that all of the places in this article sit within a mile or so of one another, on a warmer day they would make up a tremendous walk.

Our trip begins at Gray’s Beach, known to most locals as Bass Hole. Located off of 6A on Center Street, Bass Hole is a free public beach nestled up against a narrow cove overlooking Cape Cod Bay Bass Hole. Any trip here would have to start with the 800-foot long boardwalk(right) that stretches its way out into the neighboring marsh and gives a wonderful view of the bay as well as Chapin Beach which acts as a barrier for Bass Hole from the harsh ocean waves. The beach area is great for swimming as it is calm; there are visible sandbars at low tide. There is a large open filed and a newly revamped playground area in addition to a covered picnic area which can be reserved for large parties if so desired.

Across the field and playground there are trails to be walked that take you through the woods surrounding Bass Hole and across a marsh which, thanks to a recently built walking bridge, gives a great panoramic view of the area. The trails lead through the woods and across Center Street where they come out on the other side of the marsh.

Center Street can be taken back out to Route 6A; a right turn will take you to the next spot. About a half a mile down the road sits two historic spots in the same parking lot. Getting in is a tricky proposition as the road immediately follows the Post Office on the left. In summer this one is easy to miss. Park in the small lot and decide which way to go first.

Going straight back behind the Tufts Gatehouse along a rocky path you will find the Kelly Chapel(left). Built in 1873 by David Kelly this small church is secluded from the road, although it can be accessed via a path from the Old Yarmouth Inn restaurant next door. It is not routinely open but many weddings take place there; it is still a big part of life in this small village.

Located off to the left of the chapel are a set of trails which cover the nearly fifty acres of land the chapel stands watch over. More than a hundred years ago this area was Cape Cod’s first golf course built by the Thacher family in the 1890’s for private use. The trails lead through the natural beauty of the Cape and eventually will lead you to Miller’s Pond and Dennis Pond. Dennis Pond is located on Summer Street and is a recreation area; it is a very short drive from the chapel grounds.

From the small parking lot near the Tufts Gatehouse a left turn will take you up a sloping driveway to another piece of Cape Cod history. The Captain Bangs Hallet House(left) gives you a great view of life on the Cape more than 200 years ago. Built in 1840, and named for an illustrious 19th century fisherman, it is the only historic house that is regularly open to visitors. Tours of the house take place often during the summer and fall but the grounds are always able to be walked. Located behind the Bangs Hallet House is a natural wonder, a century-plus old English Weeping Beech tree. In the warmer months this giant’s limbs, covered in broad, flat leaves, reach to the ground. You may step inside this awesome piece of nature; it feels like being under an umbrella.

The last stop on the trip around Route 6A in Yarmouth Port starts with a left turn out of the Kelly Chapel parking lot. Less than a mile away, following a trip through the historic ‘center’ of Yarmouth Port on 6A you will come to Mill Lane on the right. It sits on a curve so approach slowly. The Keveney Lane Bridge crosses over Hallets Mill Pond(right) and the subsequent river that empties out into Cape Cod Bay. This bridge is unique in the fact that is a narrow one-lane bridge. There are very few spots to park on Mill Lane leading up to the bridge so a stop to walk might be out of the question in the warmer months. Still, taking a slow drive across the bridge might be enough to soak in the scenery.

When not stopping to take in these sights a trip through Yarmouth Port may take a few minutes, but you could easily spend all day visiting the places mentioned above. There are other spots nearby that have not been mentioned including the 140-year old First Congregational Church which stands up on a hill looking over the village. This is just a guide as there are many places maybe I have missed, but any of these places are well worth the drive or walk. Along 6A it seems that all you have to do is turn around and you are face to face with another piece of Cape Cod and American history. Have fun and happy traveling!

Directions: Bass Hole: From Mid-Cape Highway take Exit 8. Follow Union Street north until you reach Rt. 6A. Cross Rt. 6A to Old Church Street. Bear right onto Center Street and follow it to the beach.

Kelly Chapel & Captain Bangs Hallet House: Follow Center Street to Rt. 6A, turn right. Travel about ½ mi., the turn for the chapel is left immediately following the Post Office.

Dennis Pond: Leaving the chapel turn left on Rt. 6A; bear left onto Summer Street at curve. Dennis Pond is on right.

Keveney Lane Bridge: Exiting Summer Street turn left onto Rt. 6A. Mill Lane is a right turn on a curve diagonally across from Willow Street. Follow Mill Lane until you reach the bridge, there is a spot for one car on the right as you approach the bridge.

References: Yarmouth Historical Society