September 25, 2020 2 min read

In late September I got the idea in my head that the foliage on the Outer Cape would be peaking. I've had fall at the Red Maple Swamp Trail on my bucket list for a while. The 1/2 mile boardwalk meanders through a dense swamp area full of Red Maples with beautiful fall foliage. Falling leaves collect on the boards of the walkway. It's one of the few spots on the Cape with true fall color.

I drove out to Fort Hill an hour before sunset and walked the trail. It turns out I was massively off on my foliage prediction and the entire forest was still bright green with one or two spots of red on the tops of a few over-eager trees. So, I changed plans and explored most of the trails of the entire Fort Hill complex.

Fort Hill is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore and is one of the first seashore sites driving east on Route 6. There are two parking areas connected with a network of short trails that explore the Red Maple Swamp, the seasonal lupine fields and grasslands, and several historical sites. The entire area sits on a bluff overlooking the Nauset salt marsh and the Coast Guard lifesaving station can be seen off on the horizon. It's a great spot for a couple miles of hiking or for sunrise or sunset because of the elevated viewpoint.

Sunset in the Red Maple Swamp at Fort Hill in the Cape Cod National Seashore.

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Instead of the foliage photos that I was expecting, I came away from this walk with this image of the sun setting through the dense trees in the Red Maple Swamp. The sun dropping through the leaves created a sunstar and the light reflecting off the bark gave the scene a golden glow.

Colorful kayaks on the shore at Hemenway Landing in Eastham.

Hemenway Landing is at the northern end of the Red Maple Swamp Trail. It's a town boat launch with a small parking area and I liked the range of colors of the kayaks hauled up on the shore.

Nauset salt marsh is visible through gaps in the trees lining Fort Hill in the Cape Cod National Seashore.

From Hemenway Landing another trail leads along the bluff overlooking Nauset Marsh passing a few historical sites and leading to the edge of the grassy field at the top of Fort Hill. There are several gaps through the trees that provide a few out to Nauset Marsh and beach. The tips of some of these trees were slightly colorful and the marsh grass had a nice golden color as well.

Although I missed my stated goal with this trip, I've never had a bad time exploring Fort Hill and I really enjoyed my hike through the Red Maple Swamp.

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