How to explore Nantucket on foot.
If you like leisurely walks in some of the most beautiful settings, then Nantucket, MA, is one of the best destinations to add to your bucket list.
The small island is a mere 14 miles long and 3.5-4 miles wide, and there are very few hills, so it is easy to get from one point to another by bike or even by walking. In fact, these are the best ways to explore the wonders of the island.
The charming New England island is 30 miles south of Cape Cod and is best known for its impeccably restored and preserved historic infrastructure and buildings, its rose-covered gray shake cottages, the endless wide ocean beaches, and its untouched nature.
Thanks to the never-ending efforts by the local conservation organizations and authorities, about 50% of the island is protected from any development. There are several wildlife refuges and sanctuaries where you can enjoy walking and relaxing among the untouched flora and fauna.
If you have already found the perfect rental house for your trip to Nantucket, you can start planning your vacation.
Apart from lounging on the beaches, going on sailing cruises around the island, and exploring the historic lighthouses and sights, you can also explore the nature and stunning views of some of the best walking trails in Nantucket.
Tupancy Links is located near the coast of Nantucket Sound and once used to be the first golf course on the island. The 73-acre area used to be the location of the first link golf course in Nantucket, with the typical Scotland-style sandy coas-tland with dunes. It was mowed by grazing angora goats and sheep. The Tupancy family built a golf clubhouse in 1926 and, in the period of 1976-1987, gradually donated the entire property to the Nantucket Conservation Foundation.
Today, the original clubhouse has been transformed into the foundation’s headquarters.
The land itself is protected and is a preferred spot for walking, jogging, picnics, bird watching, and relaxing.
The grassland area is abundant with imported and native grasses and wildflowers.
There is a walking trail that is only 0.9 miles long and is very easy, even for people with young kids.
You can reach this picturesque trail located at 165 Cliff Road by walking about 1 mile from Main Street.
This remote beach area is located on the northwestern point of Nantucket and offers some of the most spectacular views of the Madaket Harbor and the Nantucket Sound.
The property is about 100 acres in size and is a preferred nesting spot for many different shorebirds.
It is, in fact, one of the best places to go bird-watching on the island. There is also a beautiful beach that is not as crowded as other beaches in Nantucket.
The wide and bumpy grass walking trail starts at the end of Eel Point Road. Since it is not so close to town, it is usually quiet and private.
The Squam Swamp walking trail is 1.75 miles long, which is very easy and suitable for families with young kids. The walk will take an average of 48 minutes to complete, and on the way, you will pass by the swamps, meadows, vernal pools, bogs, and forests with sassafras, American beech trees, tupelos, and red maple trees.
It is a loop walking trail that passes through boardwalks, roots, and stumps, so it is fun for adults and children alike.
You can find the trail at the point where Pocomo Road reaches Wauwinet Road.
The Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge
The trail at the Coskata-Coatue Refuge is one of the longest and most secluded ones on the island. The walking trail is about 16 miles long and is mostly on soft sand, so you need to be prepared with the right shoes and also to walk for at least four hours when you head there.
The wildlife refuge is located on two long peninsulas at the scenic barrier beach which separates the Harbor from Nantucket Sound.
It is a vast 390-acre refuge where you can spot a wide variety of animals like seals, deer and raptors, birds, and coastal flora and enjoy the mesmerizing view.
The trail can be reached via a four-wheel drive vehicle with an over-the-sand permit, or you can hike there from Wauwinet.
Once you get there, don’t miss the opportunity to go to the Great Point Lighthouse – one of the three historic lighthouses in Nantucket.
If you prefer, you can join a guided or panorama tour and learn more about the refuge, its history, and its ecosystem.
This is another short but picturesque walking trail, which will take only about 15 minutes to complete but will allow you to get immersed in the untouched nature of Nantucket.
The reservation is about 13 acres and consists of meadows, grasslands, shrublands, salt marshes, and a freshwater bog. The trail will also take you through a charming hidden forest with rare old trees.
You can reach the trail by taking Polpis Road and turning left when you get to Quaise Pastures Road.
If you follow the main path, it will lead you to the hidden marshy beach. You can also explore the side path, which will take you to an elevated spot where you can admire a panoramic view of the beach and Polpis Harbor.
Middle Moors is the largest conserved piece of land on the island. It is 3,220 acres in size, with multiple hiking and walking trails.
This extensive all-natural area consists of three parts. One is Altar Rock. It is among the highest point in Nantucket and is the best spot for a birdseye view of the island and ocean.
With a size of 3,220 acres, Middle Moors is the most extensive undeveloped and conserved piece of land in Nantucket. The land is divided into three areas, including Serengeti, Altar Rock, and Pout Ponds.
The entire area is covered with walking and hiking trails of different lengths and difficulty levels.
Alter Rock is 100 feet above sea level and one of the five highest points on Nantucket, so its peak offers a one-of-a-kind birds-eye view of the Coatue, Polpis harbor, Great Point Light, Pocomo Head, and Sankaty Head Light and Siasconset.
The area named Serengeti looks like the famous Serengeti Park in Tanzania. It even has some wooden African animal figures cut out and set by the path for a more exciting walking experience.