Altar Rock

Getting There


Nantucket Conservation Foundation Property

Dirt Roads and Paths

No shade

Some dogs

Leash Alert: Because this path is actually a road, and because the parking lot is a tad close to the Polpis Road, you may want to leash up here.
Heading out of town on the Polpis Road, look for Quaise Road about 3.5 miles from town on your left. On your right, directly across from Quaise Road, is the unmarked Alter Rock Road. Drive in here, and park in one of the two parking lots.
This is a well-known and very popular walk, so you are likely to run into walkers, bikers, dogs, and people participating in the infamous Nantucket Dog Walk. Even on a weekday morning in the middle of September, I ran into cars, walkers, and a biker. If you like a less-populated walk, Altar Rock, for all its beauty and options, is probably not for you.

In the beginning of this walk, you are actually walking along a dirt road, so now and then you do have to “pull over” to allow cars to pass, which is why it’s good to leash up during this portion of the walk. Head straight along this main road until you come to the signal beacon (the cone-type thing that looks like a nuclear warhead in the distance). When you are at the beacon, take a left, which will bring you up a hill to Altar Rock, one of the highest points on Nantucket. 

There are 360 degree views here of Nantucket, so once at the top of Altar Rock, you will be able to see the network of dirt paths, bike trails, and roads that criss-cross these middle moors. Pick one and start out. I like heading toward Gibbs Pond, which you can see if you look SE from the top of Altar Rock. 

What’s also fun about this walk is the hills. We are normally hard-pressed to find any kind of elevation gain on Nantucket walks, but these trails take you up to the oxygen-depriving height of 108 feet above sea level!

Though it has never happened to me, there is a slight possibility of getting lost in these moors. Try to keep track of your rights and lefts, or keep an eye on where the sun is. Cell phones don’t always work in this neck of the woods. If all else fails, head for the beacon.