A ruggedly beautiful coastal environment where deer, raptors, seals, and shorebirds play.
Made up of a pair of long peninsulas, Coskata-Coatue (pronounced “co-skate-uh coat-oo”) Wildlife Refuge is both a popular warm-weather destination and a wild, remote barrier beach.
Rolling maritime dunes cover more than 200 acres and support bayberry, beach plum, heather, and beach grass. The Cedars, a red cedar savannah and woodland facing away from Coskata Beach and the Head of the Harbor, is the largest of its kind in New England. Coskata Woods is a mature maritime oak forest that contains gnarled, wind-blown trees.
Gray and harbor seals feed on fish and invertebrates in the Great Point riptide and use the nearby beach as a haul-out.
Explore Great Point Lighthouse and the assorted natural wonders of the refuge on seasonal tours, or explore the refuge along the popular Beach Trail, Inside Trail, or Coskata Woods Trail.
During the off-season, hiking from the Wauwinet Gatehouse to the refuge is popular. Wear proper hiking footwear, bring water, and allow enough time before sunset. Please only embark if you’re prepared for a strenuous hike. Hunting is allowed so wear bright colors during hunting season. Dogs must always be on a leash.
Visiting in your 4×4 vehicle is welcome. Deflate your tires to 12-15 PSI, and use caution. The speed limit is 15 MPH. For beginner to moderately experienced OSV drivers, a regularly patrolled and recommended route will take roughly 40 minutes one way, starting at the gatehouse and leading straight up to the Great Point lighthouse. Note the weather and tide before heading out. Access is limited due to environmental conditions as determined each day. Visit the trail map portion of this page to download a map before beginning your trip—cell phone reception can be spotty. The narrow barrier beach portion of the Refuge, Coatue, is recommended for experienced OSV drivers, as the sand is extremely soft and not regularly patrolled by Trustees rangers.
Open rear-round, daily sunrise to sunset (Unless conditions prevent access).
Property is patrolled year-round. Sections of the refuge may be closed depending on environmental conditions. Allow a minimum of three hours.
Free to all pedestrians. Parking at the Wauwinet Gatehouse during the off-season is allowed. Open year-round 9AM until sunset (Unless conditions prevent access.) Closed during storms or coastal flooding. Please read all signs and check the weather and tides before heading out.
Pedestrians must stay on marked OSV trails and never walk through the dunes. Please respect our neighbors and do not use private property to access the water’s edge.
Nantucket, MA 02554
From Nantucket town rotary, take Polpis Rd. east for 6 mi. Turn left onto Wauwinet Rd. and continue to end where gatehouse is located.
Access is by oversand vehicle (permit required) or foot.
Free trail map distributed from bulletin board in the parking area. Please understand that supplies periodically run out.
We recommend that you take a photo of the map on your phone so you can refer to it during your visit, or download a trail map before you head out.
Three entities own the vast majority of these acres, forming a large wildlife refuge system encompassing four parcels: The Trustees’ Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge; The Haulover and Coatue Wildlife Refuge, both held by the Nantucket Conservation Foundation (NCF); and the Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge at Great Point, which is owned by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Several small lots scattered throughout the Refuge are in private hands.
Warning! Seals are wild animals and can be dangerous. Seals in this area will chase fish caught on a line. Seals are attracted to fish that are being filleted. Stay Safe.
The Trustees reserves the right to photograph or video visitors and program participants for promotional use, and usage of our properties implies consent. Please read our photo and video policy.
How do The Trustees of Reservations determine where hunting is permitted?
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As was the case on Martha’s Vineyard, 17th-century European settlers arrived to find the Wampanoag people had been living on this island for thousands of years. The indigenous peoples called their home Nantucket, “the land far away at sea” and their chief was Wauwinet, whose name now graces the gateway to the refuge.
Coskata and Coatue also derive from Wampanoag place names, meaning “at the broad woods” and “at the pine woods,” respectively.
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