Monday, August 22, 2011

Truro Hills trail run, Cape Cod Nat'l Seashore

Running through the Truro Hills, Cape Cod National Seashore. 

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This is our fourth year of taking a week-long family vacation on the Cape, and each year we've rented in Truro, near Provincetown, on the outer Cape. The Cape Cod National Seashore encompasses much of this part of the Cape, in fact 70% of the land area of Truro is National Seashore. Our rental house this year backs up to National Seashore lands, and I was determined to find a way directly from the backyard through a hilly mile and a half of pine and scrub oak forest to the Atlantic.

"This doesn't look like the beach to me..."

I invested some time on my first run shortly after our arrival, exploring the network of unofficial and unmarked trails, fire roads and dirt tracks. Beth even claims I got "lost," although she doesn't distinguish between "lost" and "unintentionally exploring for longer than anticipated."

A slice of the Atlantic from the Truro Hills

Ultimately, I pieced together a route that mostly follows single-track trails, skirting an abandoned Air Force station that is now part of the National Seashore, arriving at a spectacular viewpoint high above the beach. Having the route dialed in, I took Beth with me the next time out.

The path ends high above the beach with a spectacular view

The run is short, probably just over 3 miles round-trip, but long on fun, with more than enough twists, turns, ups and downs to make it interesting, not to mention the expansive view of the ocean at the turn-around point. There are numerous connecting trails along the way for more extended runs, hikes or rides through the Truro Hills. There are no trail signs or markers in the area, but I did find some limited information and maps on the website.

Not a soul in sight, just unspoiled beach 150' below

This summer marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the 44,000 acre Cape Cod National Seashore. Had this part of the Cape gone unprotected a half century ago, our trail run today almost certainly would not have been possible. Like many units in the National Park system, CCNS has had to balance preservation of natural resources with human use, such as off-road vehicle access and non-conforming structures. Some of these issues are made more complicated because CCNS was established after and around pre-existing communities where people live, work, and recreate. That sounds a lot like the Adirondacks, and whether I'm looking across the wilderness of the Adirondacks from one of the High Peaks or down an unspoiled Atlantic shoreline from the top of a high dune, I'm glad that both landscapes have been preserved.

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