Cape Cod & The Islands

Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge


1,117 acres

A ruggedly beautiful coastal environment where deer, raptors, seals, and shorebirds play.


Plan Your Visit
  • Overview
  • Ideas for Your Visit
  • Admission & Hours
  • Directions & Contact Info
  • What You'll Find
  • Facilities & Accessibility
  • Venue Rental
  • Property Map
  • Regulations & Advisories


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 hundreds of acres and support bayberry, beach plum, heather, and beach grass. The Cedars, a red cedar maritime forest 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.

Learn more about oversand vehicle (OSV) permits here. Find answers to frequently asked questions here.

Ideas for Your Visit

Explore 16 miles of oversand vehicle routes and walking trails including the popular Beach Trail, Inside Trail, and Coskata Woods Trail, plus miles of beachfront.

Hiking from the Wauwinet Gatehouse to the refuge is popular — it is a strenuous hike, and all hikers are advised to wear proper hiking footwear, bring water, and allow enough time before sunset. Please only embark if you’re prepared for a strenuous hike across soft sands. Salt marsh mosquitoes and greenhead flies can be prevalent during July and August. Hunting is allowed so wear bright colors during hunting season. Dogs are not allowed April 1-September 15. When allowed, dogs must always be on a leash.

Visiting in your 4×4 vehicle is welcome. Permits are required year-round. 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. 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 not recommended for drivers, as the sand is extremely soft and not regularly patrolled by Trustees rangers.

Learn more about Coskata Coatue’s natural history here.

For more information about OSVs and permits, visit the FAQ section of this page.

Admission & Hours

Open daily, 9AM to sunset—active surfcasters excepted (unless conditions prevent access). Please check the weather and tides before heading out, and call 508.228.5646 #2 for up-to-date property access information.

Gatehouse hours are 9AM-5PM June, September and October; and open 9AM – 6PM July and August. Refuge hours are 9AM-Sunset. (Active surfcasters excepted.)

The property is patrolled year-round, and sections of the refuge may be closed depending on environmental conditions. Permits are required for any vehicles driving onto Coskata-Coatue Wildlife Refuge. Visit the FAQ section on this page for more information.

The Refuge is free for all pedestrians, and pedestrians may park at the Wauwinet Gatehouse during the off-season. During the on-season, parking for pedestrians is along Wauwinet Road. 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. Please see ‘Ideas for Your Visit’ for more pedestrian information.

Directions & Contact Info

Wauwinet Gatehouse
111 Wauwinet Rd.
Nantucket, MA 02554
Telephone: 508.228.5646

Get directions on Google Maps.

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.

What You'll Find

The greater coastscape, which includes the federally owned Great Point Lighthouse and Nantucket Conservation Foundation land, remains a popular destination for saltwater anglers in search of striped bass and bluefish. Yet this double-fingered peninsula jutting northward between the Atlantic Ocean and Nantucket Sounds is so much more: a blend of sandy beach, rolling dunes, and forest uplands both rugged and serene.

The Refuge provides multiple habitats for an array of coastal plant and animal species, including heather and beach plum, a maritime oak forest and savannah of red cedar – the largest of its kind in New England – which offer shelter to deer.

Facilities & Accessibility

Gatehouse hours are 9AM-5PM June, September and October; and open 9AM – 6PM July and August. Refuge hours are 9AM-Sunset (Active surfcasters excepted.)

A station to deflate your vehicle tires is located near the gatehouse—drivers are required to deflate to 12-15 PSI before entering the Refuge. There is an air station just south of the Wauwinet Gatehouse for re-inflating your tires.

Seasonal portable toilets are available at Wauwinet Gatehouse and on the refuge.

Venue Rental

To inquire about small ceremonies and events, please email

Property Map

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. A digital property map is also available to download on Avenza Maps.

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.

Regulations & Advisories

Call 508-228-5646, #2 for property updates and current conditions.

For a full list of regulations on the refuge, please see our Rules and Code of Conduct

  • Refuge is located more than a mile by foot from gatehouse.
  • Oversand permits required for vehicles year-round. 4×4 vehicles are required.
  • Dogs are not allowed between April 1 and September 15 (including inside vehicles).
  • Swimming is not allowed from Marker 5 north.
  • Sections of the refuge may be closed due to environmental conditions.
  • Authorized hunting, only with written permission, is allowed on this reservation for a limited number of hunters, according to MassWildlife regulations during hunting season, from ½ hour before sunrise all day until ½ hour after sunset, Monday through Saturday. Hunting is not allowed on Sundays. Signage is posted at the property listing safety precautions, requirements, and rules for the benefit of all visitors. Learn more about hunting on Trustees properties.

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.

  • If fishing: bury any fish remains and be careful at the water’s edge if cleaning anything with fish remains.
  • Be aware of your surroundings, seals will come up to your vehicle if you have fish.
  • Watch children. Children playing at the water’s edge are at risk of cutting off a seals escape. Seals can weigh up to 800 pounds, move quickly, and have serrated teeth.
  • Consider fishing at a different location on the property where seals are not so prevalent.
Before Setting Out
More to Explore

Panorama Tour

Experience the wild beauty of this beloved Nantucket reservation, while learning more about the challenges it faces from climate change.
Upcoming Events


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.

Learn More
The View From Here
Discover More Places

Join the Trustees

Enjoy 120 sites featuring inspired trails, historic homes, beautiful gardens, farms, summer camps and more.
Become a Member

Lend a Hand

Join a community passionate about a sustainable future and engaged in diverse projects across the state.

Support Our Work

We rely on your generous support to protect the irreplaceable landscapes and landmarks of Massachusetts.