The Beach Times

The Story of Hamblen Park in Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Thursday, March 11, 2021

photo of Hamblen Park

Downtown Wellfleet is a popular location for Cape Cod visitors that's known for its beautiful beaches, high-end restaurants, historic buildings, and bustling shopping scene.

At the same time, Wellfleet is never far from nature, as the Pilgrim Spring Woodlands, Great Pond, Great Island, the Cape Cod National Seashore are nearby and reachable within minutes.

Another piece of nature near downtown Wellfleet's heart is Hamblen Park, a sometimes forgotten island on Duck Creek that provides a quiet escape for all who visit.

Here's a look at everything you should know about visiting Wellfleet's Hamblen Park on your Cape Cod vacation.

The Park's History

Hamblen Park, also known as Hamblen Island or Cannon Hill, overlooks Duck Creek, which was once Wellfleet's main harbor.

However, this harbor was always a tight fit for sizable vessels, and by the 1860s, large metal ships had become the norm, replacing the clipper ships that could comfortably make their way into downtown Wellfleet. The result was less ship traffic in the town.

In 1870, construction on a railroad dike had begun, and this addition would eventually impede the tidal flow into Duck Creek. Because of this blockage, Duck Creek is no longer a harbor but rather a salt marsh.

Hamblen Island itself was owned by a man named Arthur T. Hopkins, who donated the land to the Town of Wellfleet. This gift was accepted in 1931, and the island has remained a public park ever since.

In fact, this park is recognized as the oldest park in Wellfleet, providing reason enough to visit when spending time in this scenic and historic town.

The Wildlife

Given that Hamblen Park is relatively secluded, it makes sense that there would be a fair amount of wildlife to view.

Birds and sea life are the most common things you'll see on and around the island, including heron, geese, and ducks.

You might even see some turtles or horseshoe crab in the water while passing over the bridge.

Hamblen Park isn't a true wildlife refuge, but there's enough animal life to keep you interested as you walk its trails or explore its shoreline.

Uncle Tim's Bridge

Hamblen Park is an island, so, of course, it makes sense that there would be a bridge connecting it to the mainland.

Upon arrival, you'll see that this isn't just any bridge, as Uncle Tim's Bridge is an attraction all its own.

Initially constructed in 1783, Uncle Tim's Bridge acted as a shortcut into town for people living on the south end of Duck Creek.

A local man named Timothy Daniels, who by all accounts was quite the character, lived on Whit's Lane near the north end of the bridge. Always a self-promoter, Daniels called himself Uncle Tim.

Daniels was well-known around Wellfleet, acting as a tour guide, merchant, seaman, and fisherman. He died in 1893, but his name lived on with locals for decades.

In the 1940s, for no known reason, locals started referring to the bridge across Duck Creek as Uncle Tim's Bridge. The name stuck and remains in an official capacity to this day.

As for the bridge, the 1844 structure is no longer intact, as it was rebuilt in 2008. However, the new bridge is a close replica of the original and is now the most photographed location in Wellfleet.

Park Rules

As you enter the park, you'll see a list of rules that are in place to help keep this area beautiful.

For starters, you aren't permitted to start a fire anywhere in the park, and you're responsible for removing any items you carry in.

No motorized vehicles are allowed in the park, and you shouldn't disrupt or remove any plants or animals. You'll also want to stay on the trails to protect the plant life and avoid steep banks overlooking the creek for safety reasons.

Dogs are permitted but must be kept on a leash at all times.

By taking proper care of the island while spending time there, you can help ensure that it remains in excellent shape for generations to come.

Reaching the Park

Getting to Hamblen Park is relatively simple, as it's off East Commercial Street in downtown Wellfleet. It's also just a couple of blocks from Route 6 and steps from Main Street.

There's no on-site parking at this park, but as you approach, you'll see a sign directing you to a dirt lot about 400 feet away. Really, though, you can park anywhere in downtown Wellfleet and walk to Uncle Tim's Bridge in a matter of minutes.

Or, if you book a vacation rental in the Wellfleet area, you can make your way to the bridge and Hamblen Park any time you wish. Doing so will help you escape the busyness of a Cape Cod summer and experience the serenity of this surprisingly secluded island in downtown Wellfleet.

Hamblen Park Wellfleet

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