We're kicking off Curbed Cape Cod's first ever Outdoors Week with a handy guide to some of the best off-the-beaten-path parks in Barnstable. While the many beaches (hello, 559.6 miles of coastline), Cape Cod National Seashore, and woodsy state parks are all undisputedly awesome, here are seven lesser-known outdoorsy options - for lounging and/or leaping - from across the Cape. Enjoy!Read More
Here Now, 7 of Cape Cod's Best Off-the-Beaten-Path Parks
1. Goodwill Park
Falmouth, MA 02540
Kicking off with a classic park with something for everyone by way of the Upper Cape. "In 1894, long before the community would worry about the loss of open space, Joseph Story Fay gave Goodwill Park to the people of Falmouth. The name reflected his intent: it was a gesture of goodwill to the town." The 86-acre space includes Grew's Pond, Falmouth’s only freshwater public beach, and wooded paths connect Goodwill Park to the trails around Long Pond (think walking, running, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing). There's also volleyball, horseshoes, picnic spaces with fire grills, kayaking, canoeing, and a variety of trees to satisfy the amateur arborist.
2. Lowell Park
Cotuit, MA 02635
Play ball! The Cotuit Athletic Association has been the primary tenant of Lowell Park since the late 1940’s and they've been making sure it's the finest baseball diamond on Cape Cod ever since. Home field of the CCBL Cotuit Kettlers, the diamond (plus state-of-the-art Press Box Building and concessions) also sees plenty of action from youth, high school and community baseball teams. In addition, "The Town of Barnstable is always seeking more use of parks and fields for residents and tourists." Consider yourself invited.
3. Sandy Neck Nature Trail
West Barnstable, MA 02668
Take a hike! Sandy Neck is a barrier beach system 6 miles long and up to 1/2 mile wide with opportunities for walking, beachcombing, bird watching, photography, horseback riding, fishing, and hunting. Just remember not to hop the fence onto the beach grass - Sandy Neckis carefully managed by the Town of Barnstable for a balancebetween conservation and recreation.
4. Drummer Boy Park
Brewster, MA 02631
History meets dog drama and a playground on the Old King's Highway. The site features concerts, events, a museum, and then some. The circa 1795 Old Higgins Farm Windmill was moved to Drummer Boy Park in 1974 and added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places the following year.
5. A. Janet DeFulvio Wildlife Sanctuary Boardwalk
West Harwich, MA 02671
The Harwich Conservation Trust stewards land across the town, but this 12-acre space features a rare 137 ft. wheelchair accessible boardwalk. "In 1994, the DeFulvio family donated this mix of tupelo, pine and salt marsh to the Harwich Conservation Trust in order to preserve wildlife habitat, scenic vistas, and a serene sense of place. To enjoy the serenity, AmeriCorps volunteers helped to construct a wheelchair-accessible boardwalk and resting bench that offer views of the Herring River salt marsh as well as of an osprey nesting platform. From late March through September, watch for ospreys or “fish hawks” soaring overhead. In late summer to early fall, the tupelos or “beetlebung trees” turn crimson."
6. Paw Wah Point Conservation Area
Orleans, MA 02653
Had it not been purchased by the Orleans Conservation Trust in 1987 for $1.5 million, this 12-acre spread would have become yet another sub-division. These days, the hidden gem is Town conservation land featuring a marked trail and available brochure explaining natural history points. There's also a picnic table overlooking Pleasant Bay and a marshy beach with (seasonally) warm water "that you can have to yourself."
7. Kevin J. Fitzgerald Skatepark
Wellfleet, MA 02667
Behold, an Outer Cape park where you can get your X Games groove on (for proof, do check out one of the many awesome YouTube videos this way). The recently (as in, this week) renamed skatepark is located across from Mayo Beach, where there's lots more parking available. In addition to the skatepark and the beach, there's also an adjacent playground (with slides, tunnels, and plenty to climb) and tennis court.
[Image via M J. on Yelp]