Memorial Day weekend hikes on Cape Cod: 5 trails we recommend

The Great Offseason Nap is over.

With Memorial Day weekend just over the next dune, Cape Cod is rising from a deep Rip Van Winkle slumber, trading the union suit for a sleek Speedo and plunging into summer 2024 with a belly flop that can be heard from the top of Mt. Washington — cowabunga!

Wouldn't it be nice to get out into the wild beauty of the Cape during the big weekend? You could get a little fresh air and work off that fried clam plate.

That's right, folks, Memorial Day weekend is the perfect time for hiking on Cape Cod. Temperatures tend to be perfect for a good outing and our mosquito friends might not have perfected their vampire thing just yet. Mysterious shrubs and trees are blooming and even the critters seem to be singing in harmony.

So here are a few great Cape Cod hikes to consider this Memorial Day weekend:

Quashnet River Area, Mashpee/Falmouth

Along the Quashnet River in Mashpee.
Along the Quashnet River in Mashpee.

I love a good loop hike and the Quashnet River Area delivers nearly three miles of woodsy goodness. The area straddles the towns of Mashpee and Falmouth and runs along both sides of the scenic Quashnet River. History has brought many changes to this river world over the years, from the days when Indigenous people (the Wampanoag) fished, hunted and gathered food along the river bank, followed by water-powered mills and cranberry farming. Now the place offers a heck of a hike. Parking is available off Martin Road in Falmouth.

Bridge Creek Conservation Area, West Barnstable

The peaceful and pleasant trail at the Bridge Creek Conservation Area in West Barnstable.
The peaceful and pleasant trail at the Bridge Creek Conservation Area in West Barnstable.

The Bridge Creek Conservation Area in West Barnstable is one of my all-time favorite spots on Cape Cod. It's home to one of the Cape's biggest uprooted trees, a slumped-over monster with a root ball twice my height! Wide trails (2.5 miles worth) traverse woods, marshes and old bogs, with scattered rhododendrons in bloom during the spring. Parking is available next to the West Barnstable Fire Department at 2160 Meetinghouse Way, West Barnstable.

Morris Island Trail, Chatham

The changeable and beautiful landscape at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham.
The changeable and beautiful landscape at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham.

The toll of erosion is front and center at the Morris Island Trail, part of the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge in Chatham. The visitor center was recently removed because it was too close to the edge. But the wonderful trail is still there and has been reconfigured in recent years. It now winds through a neighborhood, then descends along a wooded path to an amazing ocean view. You can also continue along a sandy peninsula out to Harding Beach Point, and the whole trip covers a bit less than three miles. Parking is located at the end of Wikis Way in Chatham.

Pamet Area Trail System, Truro

The view from Bearberry Hill in Truro, part of the Pamet Area Trail System.
The view from Bearberry Hill in Truro, part of the Pamet Area Trail System.

The raw beauty of the wild Atlantic side of Cape Cod is in full view along the Pamet Area Trail System in Truro. Climb Bearberry Hill, which looks over the Pamet Valley, the dynamic Ballston Beach area and the ocean beyond. A section of the trail runs past a cool old bog house, a reminder of the cranberry farming days of yore. You can create a loop by walking out to the beach or continuing north for miles along a single-track trail. The parking area is located next to the HI Truro Hostel (a former Coast Guard station) at 111 North Pamet Road.

Bourne Farm, North Falmouth

The cattle tunnel at Bourne Farm in North Falmouth.
The cattle tunnel at Bourne Farm in North Falmouth.

A hike at Bourne Farm in North Falmouth is a trip back in time. It feels like old New England, with a farmhouse and fields leading to trails. There's a wicked cool cattle tunnel under a former railroad bed (now the Shining Sea Bikeway) and access to a herring run. It's a great place to bring the kids because the trails aren't super long. But if you want to add distance to the hike, you can add in a stroll on the bikeway. Located at 6 North Falmouth Hwy., North Falmouth.

Eric Williams, when not solving Curious Cape Cod mysteries, writes about a variety of ways to enjoy the Cape, the weather, wildlife and other subjects. Contact him at ewilliams@capecodonline.com. Follow him on X: @capecast.

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This article originally appeared on Cape Cod Times: Great hikes on Cape Cod for Memorial Day weekend: Top trails