Cape Cod: Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary

One of my very best finds in researching things to do and see in Cape Cod was the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary. This property is owned and operated by Mass Audubon and preserves almost 1,000 acres of environmentally sensitive land on the western (bay) side of Cape Cod just south of the town of Wellfleet. It offers around 5 miles of trails that cover a variety of landscapes: spring-fed ponds, pine-forested uplands, salt marshes, and sandy beaches.

The sanctuary was very close to our rental property, and we had an outstanding start to several days by making short visits for hiking early in the mornings before the rest of the family members got going. The property was almost overwhelmingly peaceful — and not just because, unlike our rental, it did not feature a passel of rambunctious nieces and nephews. There’s something especially soothing about the sound of wind-rustled leaves and grasses, with undertones of running water. Mass Audubon should really consider turning this soundscape into a recording available for purchase to assist with sleep or soothe nerves. Gold mine!

View across salt marshes to the bay

Despite overlooking obvious business opportunities, Mass Audubon seems to be busy with other useful activities. There were many areas of the sanctuary that were demarcated as a site of active research projects, and the summer camp seems to be very well attended. The sanctuary offers plenty of ranger-led events that sounded interesting. I appreciated the tactile environmental education displays inside the visitor center and in the sanctuary.

I have to say that the name “wildlife sanctuary” is a little misleading, While we did see a number of wading birds, a few upland birds, and legions of fiddler crabs, the wildlife density was not noticeably higher than elsewhere on the Cape. For me, the main attraction was the varied landscapes that we explored by foot. See for yourself in the gallery below.



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