I know, it’s not an original title, but that’s exactly what the day called for, so that’s exactly what we did. We took a nice, long walk in the woods behind the Lamb and Lion Inn. For those of you not familiar with all of the amazing Mass Audubon trails on Cape Cod (and don’t worry, you’re not alone, there are many!), there is a very special set of trails just off of historic route 6A across for the Barnstable-West Barnstable Elementary School called the Barnstable Great Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary. For us, the Lamb and Lion innkeepers, it’s just a right out of our door and a 1 minute sidewalk stroll to reach. On a perfectly crisp, clear and wind-free March morning, the trails beckoned.
With all of this free time we’re having (thanks, COVID-19 virus), it’s a great time to get out into the fresh air and take advantage of Cape Cod’s #1 resource, it’s natural beauty. If you find yourself driving through Barnstable Village and West Barnstable Village, keep an eye open for the small Mass Audubon “2444” sign that directs you to the sanctuary. If you’re heading west you’ll see it just after the Lamb and Lion Inn on the right, or if heading east, look for it on the left just after the elementary school entrance. Once you head down the tiny road that the sign points to, you’ll find a small parking area just over the train tracks. Park your car, step out and take in the swirling blend of pine and salt air. There’s a helpful trail map at the parking area, as well as information on the nature that awaits, and to-go maps to take on your adventure!
Speaking of train tracks, apparently you’re not suppose to walk on them. Our friend Amanda worked for the Cape Cod Railroad and she use to yell at us all the time for doing just that. So for Amanda I will say “stay off the tracks”, but for the sake of the blog, well…sorry Amanda! One thing worth mentioning about the train tracks is they were built when the entire area was all farm land, and with the realization that cows are as dumb as trains are fast, cow tunnels were built under the tracks to keep your burgers on the table, and not on the rails. Once on the trails, it’s hard to get lost. The trails are short and although they loop around from one to another, they are well marked. You’ll also see train tracks on one side from time to time, with glimpses of the Great Marsh on the other, so you pretty much always know where you are. February and March are the perfect time for otter spotting, so keep your eye’s pealed as you stroll down “Otter Trail”. But if you don’t spot much wildlife yet, the best view awaits! Follow the sign for “Sandy’s Trail” to the Great Marsh observation deck. The Great Marsh is the largest marsh on cape cod and the expansive view is stunning. There at the observation deck clearing you will also find the remnants of a historic hunting cabin, and if you look really closely into the woods behind the cabin you might spot the old out-house, with the signature quarter moon on the door and all! Continuing on you will follow “Cow Path” which takes you to a resting bench overlooking a still pond. Sit and enjoy the serenity. If for no other reason to follow the suggestion of the Furguson family, who donated the bench–and their bench smartly suggests just that. Take a moment. Take it all in. The pond is quiet today, save for the blowing pines and gently clicking sea grass. In the warmer months a chorus of croaking bullfrogs are usually singing along to the Great Marsh’s melody. Continuing on our walk you will hit “Cooper Pond Loop”, which is not only amusing to say aloud, but if you want to pick up your pace a tad, Cooper Pond Loop is a good pace setter. Just time your steps to “Cooper Pond Loop…Cooper Pond Loop…Cooper Pond Loop” (left foot hits on coop, right down on loop – I don’t know, it worked for me!). There is another elevated lookout point on Cooper Pond Loop (is it me or is it even fun to type?) where you can really hear and see the tall sea grass swaying in the breeze, and if it’s a clear day spot the distant dunes of Sandy Neck. After the loop you have a choice, you can keep looping around and go back to one of the observation areas to get another chance at spotting a sunning Snowy Egret or a Great Blue Heron, or any other of the many birds of Cape Cod, or head back to the car as the trail cuts through the proud remains of past stone walls along the Cedar Trail. Now that’s a great afternoon! But why end it here? On to the next adventure. Happy Trails!!!