Visitors will find unparalleled beauty and peace on the shoreline and hillsides of Wellfleet Bay that overlook Wellfleet Harbor, MA. Extensive walking trails transport guests to pine woodlands, a sandy barrier beach, and a panoramic salt marsh, each drawing its own variety of wildlife. The nature sanctuary includes a universally accessible trail, as well the award-winning "green" Esther Underwood Johnson Nature Center that features several aquariums and exhibits. The nature center also contains a gift shop and the Green Building "Trail."
Just pass the nature center is Wellfleet Bay's wildlife garden, where visitors can explore a five-mile trail network. The Bay View Trail journeys through shaded oak and pine woodlands. The Try Island Trail winds through a hickory and oak woodland and features spectacular views of the Cape Cod Bay. Bordering a small pond is the Silver Spring Trail, while The Boardwalk travels over a salt marsh to the bay's beach. Visitors can explore diverse habitats along the Goose Pond Trail, along with great opportunities for birdwatching.
Several species of butterflies can be viewed in the Wildlife Garden at Wellfleet Bay. Sun-bathing butterflies are often seen on the flat rocks situated in the garden's pools. Damp areas throughout the garden provide space for "mud puddling clubs," which are group of young male butterflies looking for mates. No pesticides or herbicides are used in the Wildlife Garden, allowing caterpillars to wander. Plants specific to butterfly gardens are replaced and added every year. Benches are provided for visitors to sit, relax, and do some butterfly-watching, however, guests are asked not to actually walk into the butterfly garden itself. Naturalists on staff maintain an official butterfly species count at the butterfly sanctuary, and recent butterfly sightings are posted for visitors.
Wellfleet Bay's Green Building "Trail" offers visitors a chance to become more familiar with the green building practices that went into the building that houses the nature center. Guests can use the "trail" guide to learn more about some of the site and building's most environmentally-friendly aspects. Each number listed on the guide corresponds to a number on the Green Building Trail.
There are several highlights of Wellfleet Bay that those wanting to visiting the wildlife sanctuary should keep in mind. At Wellfleet Bay, visitors can see the lower Cape's largest unditched salt marsh, as well as explore woodlands that changing into oak and pine forests. Hands-on activities are included during wildlife cruises in Nauset Marsh and Cape Cod Bay. Fiddler crabs can be seen as the scurry through the salt marsh, and green herons are often spotted fishing at Goose Pond.
Programs scheduled throughout the year for visitors of all ages are based on conservation and research projects focused on sea turtles, horseshoe crabs, terrapins, and threatened shorebirds. Wellfleet Bay also offers camp programs during the summer in Chatham and Wellfleet designed for promoting curiosity in visitors about the natural world around them. The Cape Cod Field School provides educational classes for adults focusing on the unique wildlife and environment of the coastal area.
291 State Highway Route 6, South Wellfleet, Massachusetts, Phone: 508-349-2615
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