This Overlooked Region Has Some of the Loveliest Hikes in New England

The gentle hills of Greater Boston aren’t exactly known for their heart-pumping hiking trails. The same goes for the sloping dunes of Cape Cod — you’d be hard-pressed to find gaggles of Lands End-clad hikers trekking out to sandbars in Eastern Massachusetts the way some groups scale the mountains of Western Mass. And that’s exactly why it’s so wondrous to go hiking there.

Indeed, one of the region’s biggest strengths as a hiking destination is a refreshing lack of other humans. Maybe uncrowded trails are a given, but until you go for a leisurely stroll among centuries-old trees — without seeing another person for hours — you might not understand the magic.

The other thing that makes this overlooked spot shine is its varied landscapes. There’s the option to climb a 635-foot hill to see views of the Boston skyline in the Blue Hills, or just 14 miles down the road, find flat walking trails that meander through abandoned military bunkers at Wompatuck State Park. Pleasant pond walks, island adventures, and foliage-filled journeys are all within an hour’s drive of each other.

The Great Island Trail is arguably one of the best hikes in all of Massachusetts. The loop, located within the boundaries of the Cape Cod National Seashore, begins with an easy walk tracing the shoreline of “the gut,” where the Herring River lets out into Wellfleet Harbor. Then, it climbs up into a pitch pine forest, offering stunning views from cliffs overlooking Cape Cod Bay.

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