Great Island Trail

Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts

Elevation Gain627ft
Trailhead Elevation76ft
Elevation Min/Max2/76ft
Elevation Start/End76/76ft

Great Island Trail

Great Island Trail is a hiking trail in Wellfleet, Massachusetts. It is within The Gut and Cape Cod National Seashore. It is 4.9 miles long and begins at 76 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 9.8 miles with a total elevation gain of 627 feet. Near the trailhead there is parking. The Gut conservation can be seen along the trail. There are also beaches, cliffs, dunes, and a wetland along the trail.

Great Island Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

AMC's Best Day Hikes Near Boston (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
Michael Tougias
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"The combination of quiet pine woodlands, towering dunes, and scenic coastal views makes Great Island a special place to explore."
Hiking through History New England (Falcon Guides)
Johnny Molloy
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"This circuit explores an early Pilgrim settlement on Cape Cod. View the boundary marker of a 1700s preacher, then soak in natural beauty on a swamp boardwalk. From there reach an overlook of Nauset Marsh and Nauset Lighthouse on the Atlantic Ocean. Stop by Indian Rock, where the Wampanoag sharpened their stone tools. Walk by old rock walls and then climb Fort Hill, possible site of English defense works. Finally, visit the ornate Penniman House, home of a Cape Cod whaler."
Discover Cape Cod (Appalachian Mountain Club Books)
Michael O'Connor
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"Great Island is not an island at all but rather a long coastscape of shore, sand dunes, and upland. It is a classic barrier beach, much like Long Point in Provincetown, Nauset Beach in Orleans, and Sandy Hook in Barnstable. Each parallels the mainland and protects interior bays, harbors, and marshes. In the past, Great Island was a “stand-alone” environment. It was a true island into the early 1800s and is now the chief upland of this land mass, rising 0.5 mile south of the parking lot. (Another natural feature of this hike, Great Beach Hill, located farther down the barrier, was also surrounded by water at one time.)"
Best Easy Day Hikes: Cape Cod (Falcon Guides)
Cheryl Johnson Huban and Pamela VanDrimlen
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"This is the one of the most fascinating hikes on Cape Cod. The trail follows a saltwater marsh across a dike of sand that transformed Great Island into a peninsula. The difficulty of this hike is increased due to the soft sand. Great Island is wild and windswept, with a small stunted pine forest, vast bearberry and lichen-covered dunes, and miles of sandy beach that narrow to Jeremy Point, pointing a bony finger toward Brewster."
Best Hikes with Kids: Connecticut, Massachusetts, & Rhode Island (The Mountaineers Books)
Cynthia Copeland, Thomas J. Lewis, & Emily Kerr
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"Come to Great Island, one of the Cape Cod National Seashore sites, early in the morning with sun hats, sunscreen, canteens, and rugged hiking boots. The trail circles a salt marsh, winds through pitch pine forests, climbs over towering dunes, and finishes along an extensive stretch of Cape Cod Bay beach. If you intend to extend this from a 6-mile to an 8.4-mile round-trip hike by walking out to Jeremy Point, make sure you will arrive at the connecting spit at low and receding tide. Remember that walking on loose sand takes considerable effort and young children may get frustrated at their lack of progress."

Great Island Trail Trip Reports

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I recently walked the Great Island Trail and wrote about it on my website. Check out the link for a write-up review and photos from the hike!

Great Island Trail Photos

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Trail Information

Cape Cod National Seashore
Nearby City
The Gut
National Park Service, Cape Cod National Seashore
Local Contacts
USGS Wellfleet
Local Maps