Monday, May 30, 2011

Fort Hill, Eastham MA.

     When friends come to visit I usually take them for a scenic tour. I start here in Yarmouth and head east on Rte 28 through Dennis, Harwich, Chatham, and Orleans where the road connects with Rtes. 6 and 6A. We make many stops along the way so I can show them how different each part of The Cape is. We keep going east on Rte 6 through Eastham to Wellfleet and then turn back. The way back I take them on Rte 6A  through Brewster so they get a feel of the north side also.
     One of the best views is at Fort Hill which is part of The National Seashore. Not far from the Orleans rotary on the south side of the street, take Governor Prence Road to Fort Hill Road go past The Penniman House, a historical whalers house built in 1868. There are two parking areas, one on the left and one at the top of the hill where the road ends. You can start the trail at either one. I parked at the first one which has room for about 14 cars. The view even from here is incredible.
    There is a map of the National Seashore and a box with the trail guide at the beginning of the wide gravel path that leads into the meadow.  Not far down you have a choice of going left to Red Maple Swamp or staying straight to Skiff Hill. The boardwalk that goes over Red Maple Swamp was being repaired so it was closed so I went straight. Again I had a choice up ahead, follow a trail into the woods or keep following the main trail around the meadow towards the ocean. I went into the woods and found a gazebo that looks out over Salt Pond Bay and Coast Guard Beach. There are educational signs explaining the history and wildlife of this part of The Cape. There is one trail on the left and another on the right. The right one brings you back through woods to the meadow trail. The left one is pavement and leads past the end of The Red Maple Swamp trail and seasonal restrooms to Hemenway Landing. More parking and a place to put boats in the water with a beach. The tide was in my favor so instead of heading back to the trail I walked along the shore to see if there was a way back to the trail that way. There was a wide sand trail at first so I followed it. It kept getting smaller and I wondered if I should turn back. I kept seeing no hunting signs so I figured it was still a trail unless people hunt from boats. I finally saw what looked like a small entrance back to where the trail was. I had to pull myself up the steep hill that had eroded away, but I was right and came out at the meadow trail. Good thing I wasn’t 2 minutes slower or I would have probably scared a couple that was coming down the trail from the opposite way.

       I kept going towards the ocean, which I couldn’t see now because I was coming up to Skiff Hill passing a stone wall along the way. Instead of taking the trail that went up to Fort Hill Overlook I went back to the water and walked around and went up to the overlook from the other side. I could have walked back to my car down the street but I went down the part of the trail that starts at the overlook and went back around the meadow. There is parking for about 12 cars up here. By walking the beach and the trail the length was just about right. From now on when I show friends The Cape I will make sure we have enough time to hike Fort Hill. So Far the best of the best


Ratings 1- the cellar  2- shoddy  3- tolerable  4- worthy  5- wicked good

Accessibility - 5 - ! ½ miles from rotary on the south side of Rte 6 in Eastham
Parking -  5 - 3 areas - lower area, top of hill, Hemenway St landing
Length-  5  Just right
Degree of Difficulty- 5 - easy
Extras-  4 - Pennimann House, Lookout area with historical ==== and high and low tide -----  flyer-- Next to town landing that can be used for beach, boating, fishing etc.
Trail Markings-  5 - plenty of signs - cell phone tour stop
Trail Maintenance-   5 They are working on Red Swamp boarwalk
Variation - 5- The pasture, the marsh, the woods
Scenic  - 5+ - One of the most spectacular views on The Cape
Worth Returning - 5  Over and over
Surface - Grass, pavement, pine needles, sand, boardwalk
Beach -   yes
Facilities - yes

Rating 49 out of 50


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this review - went here today and it was great. Went early in the morning and there were rabbits everywhere! Our 2 year old loved it.