Wellfleet Oyster Festival
If you like oysters, come to the annual Oyster Festival in October and enjoy the best oysters in the world! Live music, food stalls, shellfish and an oyster shucking contest. Small town and fun. The wide open sandy beaches on the bay side and ocean side. Some 30 miles of beaches mostly in the Cape Cod National Seashore. Hiking, biking, boating & fishing. Best time to visit is in Setp & Oct when it is still warm and the crowds are gone.
Definately Worth A Stop
This town is very artsy, just as you are passing through stop to admire; local art and antique shops.
We stopped in a great little shop and picked up some unique tee shirts for the family - look for the gecko logo.
Great Island Trail
This is one of the longer trails in one of the most remote parts of the Cape Cod National Seashore, inaccessible except on foot or by boat. There are no resorts or beach houses here. What is here are relatively empty stretches of bay beach, salt marsh, and pitch pine. The relative solitude is rare on Cape Cod – you pay for it in effort, though. (See below for the notes before you go.)
The Cape Cod Bay beaches
The dunes average about 10 feet high, and are less thoroughly beaten than on the Atlantic side…
…but they are as beautiful and sculptured.
Great Island, indeed the edges of the Cape, is changing with the weather, shifting and crumbling. Two hundred years ago, Great Island was an island and Billingsgate Island was home to 30 families. Now, Great Island is fully attached to the Cape, and the foundations of the lighthouse on Billingsgate are only barely visible at low tide.
There aren’t official trails between the beach and the trail down the middle, although there are a couple of paths between the two. The one in the photo started out looking sort of official, but (soon after the photo) disappeared into moss in the pine forest. (The lesson to be learned here is to know your high and low tides, and either get to Jeremy’s Point on time or know when to turn around.)
The original forest was cut down by the original settlers; what’s here now was planted beginning in the early 1800s to curb the resulting erosion. The fickle weather keeps the trees small, and twisted into interesting shapes.
In the late 1600s, right and pilot whales were so plentiful they used to come right into Wellfleet harbour, and whalers were there waiting for them. And the Samuel Smith Tavern was there to serve the whalers while they were waiting. Eventually, the whales stopped coming so close to shore, though, and the tavern was abandoned by the mid 1700s. The site was excavated around 1970, and artefacts prove there was a tavern – drinking vessels, pipe stems, and glassware. There’s nothing left now but what you see in the photo.
Parts of the loop to the tavern aren’t well defined or appear to be overgrown. Most of it isn’t marked, either, but pay attention and it’s easy enough to follow. The beaches on this side are WAY down a sheer slope of pure sand.
"The Wellfleet Harbor marshes"
The harbour side has a couple of large marsh areas (“The Gut,” and the “Middle Meadow Marsh”). What looks like sand in the photo isn’t – it’s silty-sandy sludge that sticks to everything and adds pounds to your shoes. It’s worse during high tide.
The tidal flats are rich feeding grounds – home to oysters and all kinds of wading birds. And, if you’re unlucky, a flock of large and surly gulls protecting their meal of week-dead seal. (That particular experience was about a half mile behind this picture – there’s a forest trail at the fork that I have to recommend over the beach/marsh trail.)
I went down the beach and up the forests and mud flats, which is backwards according to most of the descriptions out there. I loved the brilliant blue skies of the afternoon beach, but apparently the sunsets are beautiful (and it’s not a bad idea to not be on the exposed beach during mid-day).
Notes before you go
- The entire beach => Jeremy Point => tavern loop is 7 or 8 miles over almost flat terrain, but feels longer, since about half is through soft sand and more is through swampy muck or matted grasses. The complete loop is tougher than it sounds.
- There isn’t water available on the trail, so bring enough; there’s no food either.
- For most of the trail there’s no shade, and the sun is quite strong on the beach and around the marshes.
- Part of the trail disappears during high tide, so check the tide tables before you go.
Getting there: Route 6 towards Provincetown. Turn left towards Wellfleet Town Center (Main or Commercial Street). At the town pier, turn right onto Kendrick Road, then left onto Chequesset Neck Road. (Keep the water view on your left – there are several turns that are dead ends on private property.) The parking lot is about 3-1/2 miles from the traffic light on Route 6.