The Beach Times

Beaches That Allow Offroading on Cape Cod
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, June 10, 2019


The beaches of Cape Cod provide a paradise for all who visit them, but did you know that you can drive your vehicle in search of secluded spots with no one else nearby? Many residents of the Cape take advantage of this feature every year because they can escape the crowds and relax in peace on quite pieces of sand.

As a visitor to Cape Cod, you might find it more challenging to go ahead with this venture, but if you drive to the area and have a four-wheel drive vehicle, nothing is stopping you from offroading on some of the Cape’s exceptional beaches.

Here is a list of some of Cape Cod's top ORV beaches, along with the rules and regulations that you must follow.

 

Rules and Equipment

 

To access any of Cape Cod's beaches in your vehicle, you must, first of all, have a four-wheel drive truck or SUV. Attempting to drive on the sand without this equipment is a recipe for failure and will lead to you getting stuck. In fact, officials won't even let you attempt it.

Before being permitted on these beaches, your car or truck will have to pass an inspection. If you've passed an inspection in the last year, you might be spared this time around, but park employees are allowed to have a look at your vehicle at any point to make sure it meets the requirements. You're also required to have the following six items in your vehicle at all times: a tire gauge, a spare tire, a shovel, tow straps, a jack, and a support board. All of these articles will assist you if you get stuck in the sand.

Each beach has its own rules that you’ll have to follow. We’ll outline many of these rules and regulations later in the article.

 

Safety Information

Staying safe is crucial whenever you're close to the ocean, so make sure you follow the advice and instructions of local town administrators. You'll also want to keep an eye on the tide chart yourself, just in case you miss a warning that is put out by the town.

When driving, try to stay out of the ruts. While you'll probably want to follow the tracks of other vehicles in soft sand, as they will provide more traction, you'll want to avoid deeper ruts because they can cause your car or truck to bottom out and get stuck.

The reason for bringing a tire gauge is to monitor your tire pressure. You should lower the pressure in all of your tires to between 11 and 15 psi because this provides better traction in soft sand.

 

Nauset Beach in Orleans

Nauset Beach in Orleans frequently closes because of the threatened and endangered birds that reside on its shores, but if you happen to be around when it's open, there's nothing like it. You'll need to have your vehicle inspected before you can purchase a beach access sticker, which is $66 for residents and $196 for out of towners, with discounted rates available for the winter.

You can spend the night on the beach if you have a self-contained vehicle, defined here as a camper, motorhome, or trailer with a water source and toilet. The permit for taking these vehicles onto the beach costs $266 per year. Fires on the beach are prohibited.

 

The Cape Cod National Seashore

Depending on the time of year, much of the Cape Cod National Seashore allows ORV access, but you'll have to be prepared for closures here, as well. Vehicles are permitted everywhere from Race Point Light to Long Nook Beach, which is just south of Coast Guard Beach.

During the spring, however, there are restrictions on many places along the beach because of piping plover nesting, and you'll also see beaches closed when there are unsafe conditions or work being done to prepare the beaches for the summer. On Coast Guard Beach, you can only access the sand in your vehicle between 6:00 PM and 7:00 AM for night fishing purposes, as it's too busy during the day.

To get a permit to enter the Cape Cod National Seashore in your vehicle, you'll have to pass a vehicle inspection, have all the required safety equipment, view the orientation program, and purchase a pass. This pass will cost you $50 for seven days or $150 for the entire year. Keep in mind that rental vehicles are not permitted and you must be the registered owner of the truck to obtain a pass. If you wish to spend the night on one of the beaches, you’ll need a self-contained vehicle pass, which is $225 per year or $75 per week. Camping is only permitted on Race Point Beach, and trailers are prohibited.

 

Sandy Neck Beach in West Barnstable

In Barnstable, certain portions of Sandy Neck Beach are accessible via offroad vehicle. The beach is very long, and much of the vehicle-friendly area is at the far east end of the park. To reach these areas, turn right onto the trail that is just north of the Sandy Neck Gate House. This trail will take you to the dunes, which you can drive on until you reach your desired location. You can drive all the way out near Beach Point, which is a secluded area where you can find a piece of sand all to yourself.

To obtain a beach pass, you'll have to provide your driver's license, proof of address, and vehicle registration at the Sandy Neck Gate House. Barnstable residents can buy a pass for $30 for the winter or $90 for the year, while non-resident passes are $60 for the winter and $180 for the year. You are permitted to spend the night on the beach if you have a self-contained vehicle, although it will cost you an extra $5-10 per night. You can also use a tent in the designated camping area. Campfires are allowed with a permit.

 

Chapin Memorial and Crowes Pasture in Dennis

In Dennis, you’ll have access to two ORV-friendly locations in a relatively small area at Chapin Memorial and Crowes Pasture beaches.  Chapin Memorial Beach provides easy access to the sand through its main parking area. Once you head through the parking lot, turn left and head south along the beach until you find a spot to yourself.

At the far east end of town is Crowes Pasture Conservation Area, which is home to a long stretch of beach that is ORV-friendly. Getting to this beach is a little more complicated, however, as you'll have to turn onto South Street from the Old King's Highway. Follow South Street in a northeast direction until you get to the sand. From there, turn right, and you can follow the sand out to Quivett Neck. There are plenty of secluded spots on this beach, especially since it's not as popular with tourist beachgoers as many others in the area.

The Town of Dennis doesn't offer daily or weekly passes, so you'll have to purchase an annual ORV sticker if you want to take your vehicle onto one of its beaches. The sticker costs $150 for locals and $300 for everyone else. Your vehicle might have to pass an inspection before being allowed on the sand, and only the registered owner can drive it. No rental cars are allowed, and these beaches do not allow overnight stays of any kind.

 

Watch for Closures

Keep an eye out for beach closures that could impact your ability to drive on a particular beach. In the spring, for example, many beaches close sections to protect the piping plover, a threatened shorebird that nests in the Cape’s sands, most notably on the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Poor weather or damaged beaches could also lead to closures, particularly for offroad vehicles. Have a look at your desired beach’s website and social media pages to make sure it’s open before venturing onto the sand.

As long as you take the necessary precautions, you should have an excellent time exploring Cape Cod’s beaches in your vehicle.



Barnstable Cape Cod Beaches Cape Cod National Seashore Chapin Beach Coast Guard Beach Crowes Pasture Dennis Long Nook Beach Nauset Beach Offroading Orleans Provincetown Race Point Sandy Neck

A Peek at Some of Cape Cod’s Famous Nature Trails – Part 2
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Thursday, February 28, 2019


A couple of weeks ago, we looked at some of Cape Cod’s best nature trails and, as you might expect, there was too much to fit into a single post, so we’ll continue the discussion now.

The Cape’s natural areas are unique because they give you the feeling of being completing isolated, yet you remain a short distance from the ocean and a town or two at all times. As a result, you’ll don’t have to venture too far from your vacation rental to experience the serenity of the woods or to find a deserted beach teeming with wildlife.

Here are a few more nature trails that are worth checking out during your next vacation on Cape Cod.

 

Sandy Neck Beach Park

Sandy Neck Trails- Photo by Catheren Andrade

Barnstable is home to Sandy Neck Beach Park, a 4,700-acre zone with dunes, forests, marshes, and beaches that is a must-visit when on Cape Cod. What makes Sandy Neck so interesting is the diversity in its landscapes, as you can sit on a beach one minute and walk through the woods the next.

The landscape of Sand Neck has taken thousands of years to form, as it is a barrier beach with Cape Cod Bay on one side and Barnstable Harbor on the other. The result is a beautiful space with six hiking trails, many of which lead to more secluded areas of sand away from the crowds.

To reach the more reclusive expanses along this six-mile stretch, you'll want to take Marsh Trail. This trail starts near the beach's main parking area and runs close to the end of Sandy Neck Beach. Along the way, you'll pass marshes and forests, and every trail that intersects with Marsh Trail leads directly to the beach.

Once you get to the end of Marsh Trail and approach the beach, you'll have the option of taking Trail 6 to stunning Beach Point, which has shallow water and scenic views of the harbor. On any given day, dozens of boats might set up in the area to enjoy its sandy banks. This area is also home to the Sandy Neck Lighthouse.

It is possible to drive the length of the beach if you purchase an ORV permit and have the necessary equipment. The license is $170 for non-residents, since you must buy it for the entire year, and the tools needed include rope, a jack, support boards, a shovel, a tire gauge, and a spare tire. If you're staying on the Cape for a few weeks, this is an option worth considering.

There's also a new mobile app that provides up to the date information on Sandy Neck Beach, including tide charts and weather updates. If the beach closes or its hours of operation change, you can learn about it through the app.

 

Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge

Three distinct areas make up Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, and you'll surely want to schedule ahead if you plan to visit all of them. Overall, the refuge is 7,604 acres in size, and about 94% of it has a Wilderness Area designation. The region is home to whitetail deer, seals, and a variety of migrating birds, including the piping plover and roseate tern, both of which are protected species. There are also plenty of whale and great white shark sightings every year in the waters off the Monomoy Islands.

The first part of the refuge is relatively easy to reach, as Morris Island connects to the rest of the Cape with a roadway and is just outside of downtown Chatham. Here, you'll find the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center, along with 40 acres of trails, marshes, dunes, and forests. There are ten markers along the 3/4-of-a-mile trail that provide information on the local flora and fauna and let you know you're on the right track.

Next, there's North Monomoy Island, which is home to some of the Cape’s best bird watching. The island isn't open to foot traffic right now, due to its importance as a wildlife refuge. You can take a boat tour around the space, however, allowing you to see a lot of what it has to offer. There are several seal-watching tours from Chatham that pass right by North Monomoy, and the captains will usually get as close to land as possible along the way.

You can go exploring a little bit on South Monomoy Island, which is the most extensive portion of the refuge. This island as a couple of boat landings, and although there isn’t a regularly scheduled ferry service, you can book a private tour if you want to visit. Keep in mind that parts of the island close at various times, so you’ll have to be careful where you walk. Markers will indicate every closure. There's a long beach on the north section of the island that is outside of the refuge. Renting a boat or taking a private charter are the only ways to get to this beach, which is perhaps the most secluded on Cape Cod.

 

Spruce Hill Conservation Area

At only a half a mile long, the trail through the Spruce Hill Conservation Area is the shortest on this list, but it’s still worth a look because it heads through a dynamic area filled with Norway spruce, oak, and pine trees, which form a thick canopy of green. You'll also pass a swamp before heading over the dunes and reaching the incredible views of Cape Cod Bay. This stretch of beach is relatively secluded, as well, making it a nice place to relax and watch the bird flying overhead.

Spruce Hill is right along Route 6A, just outside of downtown Brewster and only a mile from Nickerson State Park. There's no market at the entrance, and it'll feel like you're heading up someone's driveway when you arrive, but, rest assured, you're not. You'll see the parking lot after you pass the house. It's also possible to leave the main trail about halfway down and head through an area with even greater tree cover, giving you a better chance to see some wildlife.

 

Nature Trails Everywhere

It would be impossible to cover all of Cape Cod’s nature trails because you can find one almost anywhere. Head to any of the region’s kettle ponds, for example, and there’s a good chance you’ll see a trail wrapping around the water or heading even further back into the woods.

The great news is that these trails provide a refuge for animals and keep parts of Cape Cod quiet, no matter the time of year. Whether you’re visiting the Cape for a few days or spending the entire summer here, make sure you experience the conservation areas and nature trails that allow you to get away from it all.



Cape Cod Hiking Hiking Sandy Neck Spruce Hill Conservation Area

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