A Delightful (Easy) Seaside Hike to The Knob Falmouth MA

The Knob in Falmouth is a landmark familiar to locals but largely unknown to Cape Cod’s many visitors. It’s a delightful seaside hike suitable for all skill levels that takes under an hour. This easy Falmouth walking trail winds through a woodland area, ending at a viewing platform with panoramic ocean views. It’s one of many attractions in Falmouth you might enjoy. Read on to decide whether a visit to this hidden gem in Cape Cod belongs on your itinerary.

A view of The Knob Falmouth
Falmouth locals and frequent visitors know about “The Knob.”

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CONTENTS: In this article, you will learn everything you need to know to visit The Knob in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

What is The Knob, Falmouth?

The trail to The Knob is a lovely wooded path.

What’s known by locals as “The Knob” in Cape Cod is a hilly outcropping at the end of a wooded path which extends out from the Falmouth coastline. If you didn’t know it was there, you probably wouldn’t stumble across it.

It may be one of Falmouth’s best kept secrets.

Here’s why:

  • It’s a lovely nature walk, yet not too long or strenuous. 
  • The Knob is maintained by the Salt Pond Areas Bird Sanctuaries, Inc.
  • Sandy beaches flank both sides of the trail.
  • You’ll see extraordinary views of Quissett Harbor and Buzzards Bay along the trail

How Difficult is the Knob to Hike?

The Knob is an easy trail just under a mile long. It’s suitable for all ability levels, even if you’re not much of a hiker but enjoy a coastal nature walk. It’s family friendly, too.

However, it’s worth noting there are a few areas with stairs and thick roots, so it may present a challenge for strollers and wheelchairs.

How Long Does The Trail Take?

The whole trail from beginning to the end of The Knob and back takes under an hour.

You might want to allow longer if you decide to stay a while at the lookout, go swimming, or have a picnic.

Best Time to Visit the Knob

We visited The Knob on Columbus Day weekend during the pandemic.

It was was not ideal.

That’s because it was more crowded than I would have liked, with a half a dozen or so people lingering at the lookout platform, and others coming and going along the trail.

And, the parking lot was full (although we lucked out with a spot as someone was leaving).

The Knob is open year round. I imagine it might be a bit cold, even treacherous during a New England winter, and perhaps more crowded in summer.

That means the best time of year to visit the Knob would be during the pleasant weather in the Cape Cod off season: ideally spring and autumn.

Driving Directions to Falmouth MA

Falmouth is located in Cape Cod in an area known as the Upper Cape. It’s about 80 miles southwest of Boston. By car, the best way to get to Falmouth is to cross the Bourne Bridge and take Route 28S until you arrive in Falmouth. 

Alternatives to Driving to Falmouth MA

While driving is the most common and convenient way to get to the Cape, you have other options. For instance, you could fly into the airport in Hyannis (50 miles from Falmouth), as well as take the bus or train lines that run directly into Falmouth. Of course, you could always arrive by boat, too.

The Knob Falmouth – Directions

A white and blue dinghy in Quisset Harbor (The Knob in Falmouth)
A variety of boats are moored in Quissett Harbor in Woods Hole, Falmouth.

The Falmouth landscape features a series of inlets with miles of coastline and a variety of beaches. Some beaches in Falmouth are narrow, some are rocky. Most Falmouth MA beaches facing Buzzards Bay are warm.

You’ll find The Knob on Quissett Harbor Road in Woods Hole, jutting out into Buzzards Bay. (Wood’s Hole is the same area of Falmouth where you’d catch the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard.)

As Quissett Harbor Road narrows, you’ll see picturesque dinghies moored within the small marina. Vibrant boats reflect in the gentle waves, while others with polished wood trim take repose.

You’ll want to park here, opposite the bay, wherever you can.

Parking in Woods Hole in general is tricky. Parking at The Knob Woods Hole is trickier.

With under a dozen parking spots, you might want to plan your visit to The Knob early in the day, if possible—even better on a weekday or during the off season.

How Much Does It Cost to Visit The Knob?

The walk to the knob in the woods is free! There is no fee to access the path, although it is guarded by someone who reminds you to kindly wear your mask for areas where you can’t safely social distance.

You’ll find the path is directly to the left of the entrance to the Quisset Yacht Club

Exploring The Trail: The Knob

At the start of the trail, the path hugs the marina and then splits off in two directions, ultimately making a loop.

You’ll want to stay to the right if you want to take the main path.

To the left is the lesser-traveled path, which you can take on the return.  

You’ll ascend a few stairs cut into the earth as you follow along the wooded path.

Along the way, look for the typical Cape Cod plants and tree varieties which flank the path, including:

  • Scrub Pine
  • Rugosa Fose
  • Wild Asters
  • Poison Ivy 

You’ll also want to keep your eyes and ears open for birds and other wildlife along the way.

It’s a pleasant, meandering walk with plenty of space at most times to step aside for on-coming hikers. (If you’re not sure what poison ivy looks like, you’ll want to stay firmly on the path.)

For the most part, the path is shaded and cool. 

In fact, it’s quite picturesque. Every so many hundred yards, the brush clears and you’ll glimpse the deep blue Atlantic Ocean as well as the actual “knob” in the distance.

A view of The Falmouth “Knob in the distance

The Knob, and the path toward it beyond the mainland is shored up by a birm of large rocks.

When we visited, the sound of the sea was a gentle throb, but I imagine during a Nor’easter, the spray might come as far as the path.

You’ll find a few paths that descend to a long strip of beach below, where we heard children squealing with delight at the incoming waves. Further along, a couple sat in camp chairs perched the bank overlooking the bay. Perhaps they would picnic there until sunset. 

As you continue along the well-worn route toward the knob, the path narrows. You will then cross the passage way that connects the mainland to the Knob.

It really is a lovely vista on approach, perhaps more so than the arrival itself.

Next, you’ll find a set of stairs that gently meander up the small hill.

Finally, at the top, you’ll find yourself in a small clearing with beautiful panoramic ocean views. 

Ascend the steps to arrive at the panoramic viewing platform on The Knob.

The viewing platform is paved, and you’ll find a few benches where you might sit a while and take in the views.

To the right, you’ll see the path you just completed with a view to Buzzards Bay.

To the left, you’ll view the road along Quissett Harbor and the Marina.

And, there appears to be miles and miles of ocean straight ahead in Buzzards Bay.

Depending on your timing, this might be a good spot to enjoy a picnic lunch or late morning snack.

The Return Trail

Once you’ve fully appreciated the panoramic scene, you’re ready for the return trip.

You can return exactly the same way you arrived. Or, for a change of scenery, you can take the less-traveled path, as we did. 

The path has Quissett Harbor to one side and Buzzards Bay to the other.

That means you want to bear right at the mainland.

Note that the first trail to the right will take you on a short walk down to the water. Unless you want to take a swim and enjoy some beach time, you want to continue a little further along to the next path on the right, instead. This will lead you back to the beginning of the trail. 

As I said, this route is far less traveled. We didn’t cross paths with anyone on this leg of the trail–and in this age of social distancing, that was a relief. 

You’ll find this route to be more wooded and shady.

There are some split rail fences with nice overlooks. You’ll also see signs about erosion asking that you remain on the trail. I could see the impulse to descend to the beaches below, but you can just as easily reach them from the marina.

While this was more of a winding and secluded path, it was not as though you’d feel at risk of getting lost. Just stay to the right whenever the path splits. You really can’t get lost on this small stretch of land; the paths to the left will simply lead you back to the main path anyway.

At last, you’ll find yourself back where you began the hike, hopefully refreshed by the walk in nature, the beautiful water scenes, and the ocean air.

5 Tips for Visiting The Knob – Falmouth

I thoroughly enjoyed our outing to The Knob. It was one a cautious adventure after many months of social isolation during the pandemic. That said, here are a few things I would have done differently.

  1. Avoid Peak Times

While I think the off-season (non-summer) is a great time to visit The Knob, I would have visited on a weekday, perhaps even an odd hour of the day. Not only does that make it more likely that you will find a parking space, but there will likely be fewer people on the trail.

  1. Choose the Road Less Traveled

Instead of taking the main path, I would have taken the less-traveled leg of the path to and from The Knob to reduce contact with others–even though everyone was wearing masks and stepped aside (or we stepped aside).

  1. Bring Water (and optionally, a picnic)

Any time you’re hiking, you’ll want to make sure you stay hydrated. If you plan on staying a while, you might even pack some tasty snacks and perhaps a blanket or some light camp chairs. We had water for the walk, but could have definitely spent more time here, had we been better prepared.

  1. Enjoy the Scenery

If you’re a photographer, be sure to have your camera because this is such an unique setting. It would also be an excellent place for some pleinair painting, if you can find a good space to set up an easel. Or, just take the time to fully appreciate this beautiful scenery in Cape Cod.

  1. Watch for Hiking Hazards

While we did not encounter any, you’ll want to be on the lookout for poison ivy, mosquitos, and ticks. After all, those are just common hazards of hiking in New England.

Also, it goes without saying that you could wear hiking shoes or sneakers for a hike. But really, this hike is so easy, any type of comfortable footwear would do.

Final Thoughts on The Knob Falmouth

The Knob is worth visiting while you’re in Falmouth and looking for a short day hike with lovely views. It makes for a great addition to any 1-day itinerary for Falmouth, which might also include activities in Falmouth like grabbing a picnic lunch at Pie in the Sky, shopping on Main Street, and eating out in Falmouth. (We recommend Anejo for dinner, but be prepared to wait for a seat.) You’ll want to include The Knob in your “best things to do in Falmouth” bucket list.

And, if you plan to stay overnight in Falmouth, be sure to read our review of The Inn on the Sound, a boutique inn in Falmouth that overlooks Nantucket Sound. It’s among the best places to stay in Falmouth.

Do you see yourself visiting The Knob in Falmouth when you visit next? Have you been there (or someplace like it) before? Let us know about it in the comments below!

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.