SIASCONSET’S HISTORIC BLUFF WALK
Open 7:30am until sunset
Siasconset derives its name from an Indian word meaning “near the great whale bone.” The village was first settled in the late 17th century as a whaling outpost to spot the giant sea mammals offshore.
There was a footpath, running along the bluff top from ‘Sconset to Quidnet, which had been used by Indians and later villagers, farmers and fishermen. Sheep grazed in the grass and fisherman would haul up their dories in the gullies around the village to unload their catch. In 1849, the path was cut in half when the United States government built the Sankaty Head Lighthouse.
In 1873, William Flagg, a summer resident of Nantucket, obtained title to a large section of land north of the village known as Plainfield. Flagg sold some of his lots in 1892, it was recorded that the easterly line of these lots was separated from the edge of the bluff by “a footpath along the top of the bank.” In August of that year, Flagg petitioned the Proprietors to accept a tract of land “for residents and visitors to Nantucket to be used as a footpath or foot promenade and for no other purpose or purposes whatsoever.”
The footpath no longer ends at Sankaty Head Lighthouse due to erosion of the bluff but still provides outstanding views of the Atlantic. As historian Edouard A. Stackpole commented, the path is “situated as it is at the top of the bluff, always commanding intriguing glimpses of the sea and the heathland on either side, curves and dips as it follows the conformation of the bluff, and provides an entirely unique opportunity for a stroll.”
The steep angle of the bluffs and its sandy glacial material are prone to erosion from water and storms. Sea-level rise and the deadly force of storm waves have had dramatic effects on the bluff and adjoining properties.
Following some simple rules will go a long way to protecting this fragile path and limit the impact of humans:
Keep your voices low.
Turn off or mute your cellphone.
No running or wheeled vehicles allowed (including bikes & strollers).
Dogs must be on a leash. Please pick up any of their leavings.
Stay on the path and leave only at designated exit markers.
Watch out for poison ivy and ticks.
The path is uneven and narrow in places. Proceed at your own risk.
PUBLIC ENTRY/EXIT POINTS
# 1 - On path between Front Street and northern end of Bank Street. Path off of Front Street is to left of 21 Front Street.
# 2 - At the end of Nosegay Lane
# 3 - Between 13 Baxter and 15 Baxter (where Rosaly Lane intersects with Baxter)
# 4 - Between 27 Baxter and 29 Baxter (where Emily Street intersects with Baxter)
# 5 - Between 63 Baxter and 61 Baxter# 6 - Between 65 Baxter and 67 Baxter