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Oddly enough, at Nickerson, sand dunes and salt marshes are nowhere to be found, let alone an ocean beach. Instead, the sites are shaded by pines and oaks. Eight fresh-water kettle ponds sprinkle the inland grounds, offering endless opportunities for swimming, canoeing and fishing.  Besides the eight miles of paved bike trails within the state park, there is also the Cape Cod Rail Trail, a 22-mile cycling route that runs along the Outer Cape from Dennis to Wellfleet, cruising past pine forests and cranberry bogs.

Park ranger Eric Levy raves about the natural beauty of the park and the many ways to enjoy it. ”Flax Pond has a sweet little beach. You can rent a boat and go fishing or just explore the hiking trails and spot the birds...” He broke off mid-thought. “Do you want a poem? Wait right here, let me get you a poem.”

Levy is so inspired by the magnificence of life on Cape Cod that he has taken to penning poetry about it. He shares his writing with campers, if they are interested, as a way to encourage them to tune in to their surroundings and tune out the crowds and stresses of daily life. “Inhale a breath from around the globe / And see yourself as this moment unfolds / Know eternity as this moment gets old.”

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© 2012 Lonely Planet. All rights reserved. The article ‘Camping on Cape Cod’ was published in partnership with Lonely Planet.

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