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Provincetown :: Sunday, April 23rd 2017

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Halcyon Days

Outdoor Adventures in Provincetown

September 23rd, 2013

Any year-rounder will tell you: every season here has its own special beauty. While in summer the town is more of a playground, we know that in the fall, it is more of a living sacred space. Walks in the Beech Forest or among the dunes, or listening to the surf can be savored. The crickets sing loudly, squirrels and chipmunks dance through underbrush stocking up for winter, wild turkeys come out of the forest to wander neighborhoods, and you'll spy fox or coyote on the prowl. Days are bathed in the unique golden light of autumn, the trees begin to blaze in color, and nights are cool, crisp, quiet. Come and immerse your senses in the spirit-soothing grandeur!

Days are bathed in the unique golden light of autumn, the trees begin to blaze in color, and nights are cool, crisp, quiet.

Do you dream of a campfire on the beach? Now is a great time, because with the post-summer decrease in demand, you have a better chance to obtain one of a limited number of fire permits! Permits are free; simply reserve one through the Province Lands Visitors Center three days in advance (book Wednesday for a Saturday evening campfire) and pick up the permit at the Visitors Center the day of the fire, before 3:30 PM. The parking lots at both Race Point and Herring Cove close at midnight, so you'll need to extinguish your fire and head home by then.

Bicyclists love the challenging, stunningly beautiful rides through Provincetown's portion of the National Seashore! The complete Province Lands trail is nearly 5.5 miles in length, and can be accessed from the Beech Forest parking lot and the Visitors Center parking lots for free, and via both the Herring Cove and Race Point beach parking lots (beach fees apply). If the full trail is too much for you, you can choose one of several smaller spur trails ranging in length from 1/4 mile to a mile, or pick up Province Lands Road at the end of Bradford Street and ride along the moors to Herring Cove. If you bring your own bike, you can park your car at any location listed above, but if you choose to rent, you have several options, from Arnold's Bikes near Lopes Square on Commercial Street, or Provincetown Bikes and Gale Force Bikes both on Bradford Street. Rentals at all three shops are fairly comparable, and you can rent one for as little as two hours or as much as a full weekend. Check out the Cape Cod National Seashore web site for maps, permit information, and much more.

Walkers and hikers can explore on their own or join ranger-guided walking tours, including a 1.5 mile "Seals of Cape Cod" tour on September 26th, and one-mile tours of dunes and cranberry bogs (bring a small bag or container if you want to pick cranberries) Saturdays at 10 am in October. Call the Province Lands Visitor for details and reservations so you don't miss out!

If you're a long-distance walker as I am, you too can follow any of the bike trails or spurs, and hike a few steep grades, photograph great vistas and minute details of woods, ponds and dunes, and pick a shady spot to take a rest. You can also hike the beaches from Herring Cove to Hatches Harbor or from Race Point Beach to Race Point Light! Autumn is also a great time for bird-watching!

Hiking and biking is hungry work, so you'll want to pick up some food and drink "to go" before you hit the trails. Stop by Farland Provisions or East End Market both offer a variety of great cold sandwiches to go. For vegetarian options check out 141 Market where you’ll find wraps, salads and more all ready to go!

Chris Daniels is a writer, photographer and office-guru-about-town who shares her life with a bossy cat and “Damon, the Dog With the Toy”

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