Nature Center and Trails
The Platinum LEED-certified Esther Underwood Johnson Nature Center is a prime example of green architecture, utilizing passive solar heating, composting toilets, and graywater planter beds. Within the building there are exhibits, a gift shop, and volunteers ready to help you enjoy your visit! Exhibits display local plants and animals. Two 700-gallon aquariums allow you to see the underwater worlds of the salt marsh and the tidal flats. A beautiful mural illustrates upland habitats such as coastal heathlands and pine/oak woodlands. Glass cases highlight various features of Cape Cod natural history.
A large trail map and a recent sightings board allow you to read about what plants and animals have been seen and to choose a trail to walk during your visit. There are five main trails and the Butterfly Garden:
- Green Trail (PDF, 265KB) - highlights sustainable elements in the nature center and its surrounding grounds.
- Bay View Trail - winds through shaded pine/oak woodlands.
- The Boardwalk - crosses over the salt marsh to the beach!
- Wildlife Garden - various species may be seen from May through November.
- Goose Pond Trail - visits a diversity of habitats; great for birdwatching, all-person accessible from the Nature Center to Goose Pond.
- Silver Spring Trail - borders a small fresh water pond.
- Try Island Trail - supports an oak/hickory woodland and views of Cape Cod Bay.
The gift shop specializes in natural history books for adults and children. Other items for sale include note cards, posters, photographs of local birds, jewelry, toys, and tools for exploring the natural world such as observation jars and hand lenses.
Dedicated volunteers maintain a wildlife garden just outside the front doors of the nature center. Flowers are planted according to their ability to attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Warm, sunny days are the best for viewing the butterflies! Various species may be seen from May through November.
The Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary maintains a small campground for people who have been members of Mass Audubon for at least one year.