As it should the sun rose, marking the beginning of our day to explore Cape Cod. High on my list of things to do was to investigate classic New England lighthouses. Glinda was onboard with my idea, but I don’t think she was willing to dedicate our entire day to it. I knew I was going to have to select a few choice locations and hope that we liked Cape Cod enough to return some day.
Wood End Light:
Our first lighthouse of the day required a good hike to get to. There is no designated parking for this adventure, so street parking looks to be your best bet. The trail takes you for a stroll down a breakwater style damn consisting of small boulders, and originates from the intersection of Commercial St & Province Lands Rd in Provincetown. Hiking the breakwater requires you to have good shoes, because you step from boulder to boulder, it is not a contiguous walking space. The lighthouse is a 3 mile roundtrip walk and is not accessible by vehicle. Wood End Light was built in 1872 and has a small oil house alongside of it. It is currently an unmanned lighthouse that sounds its horn to warn of fog. Depending on the time of year you should be prepared to encounter a fair amount of bugs on your hike. Bring water and snacks because there are no facilities available in the vicinity. For more information about its history check here. *There is no way to access the lighthouse.
Highland Light (aka. Cape Cod Light):
Our next lighthouse was easily reached by car and a 100 foot walk. The current lighthouse was built in 1857 replacing the original structure from 1797. Highland Light is the oldest and tallest lighthouse on Cape Cod. In 1996 the existing location was deemed unsafe and the lighthouse was moved some 450 feet. The grounds are open year round, but tours are only available from May until October. For more information regarding tours check here, for more information about its long history check here.
Three Sisters of Nauset:
After Highland we drove south to Eastham with the intention of going to Nauset Light, but we also stumbled on the Three Sisters. This stop ended up being a two for one kind of deal, well actually more of a four for one. We parked the car in the Nauset Light Beach parking, fyi this is a pay lot. Glinda suggested we investigate the three random lighthouses we encountered on the road in first and found a nice path that lead us straight to them. It is roughly a 400 yard walk from the parking lot to the lighthouses. Upon arrival we learned that they were the Three Sisters Lighthouses. They were part of the original lighthouses that protected this section of coastline and were built in 1890. They replaced three identical lighthouses that were in danger of eroding into the ocean that had been constructed in 1837, seemingly a common issue in this area. When erosion continued on its path they decided to replace these wooden structures with a more solid structure further inland. A private entity saved the three wooden buildings which were later restored by the National Park Service and now lay on display for the public. Tours are available and information on them can be found here. Historic information regarding the light houses can be found here.
A quick walk back down the wooded path towards the ocean leads you back to Nauset Light. We were greeted by the red topped tower peeking thru the trees as we came to the end of the path. Even though I knew it was there, it was still a sight to see. A tour was being given by a park ranger when we arrived, so we spent the first few minutes walking the grounds. It is a solid lighthouse, a metal skin over a brick skeleton, and gives the impression it could easily handle a hurricane. It was originally constructed in 1877 and has been moved twice. Once in 1923 to replace the Three Sisters, and again in 1996 by the same company that moved the Highland Light as erosion played yet another hand in the lighthouses of Cape Cod. If you are a fan of Cape Cod Potato Chips, then the image of this lighthouse might look familiar as it is the logo for the brand. For more information on tours and its move check here. For more information about the lighthouses history check here, its story is connected to the Three Sisters, so you will want to scroll down.
The sun was setting and our day of lighthouse hunting was coming to a close. Having only seen 4 of the available 14, we had barely scratched the surface. We felt pretty good about our findings and our desire to return to Cape Cod some day and complete the quest to see all of the lighthouses. For now it was time to track down some dinner. To see a list of all the lighthouses on Cape Cod check here.