|First on the docket: Historical Society Trails You can find the trailhead at The Faith Tufts Gatehouse behind the post office on Route 6A in Yarmouthport. These trails maintained by the Historical Society of Old Yarmouth. A generous 50 acres of conservation was once the first golf course on Cape Cod. Built in the 1890s as a private course for the Thacher family, the course was used for several decades until generously donated to the historical society by Mr. Guido Perera, a descendent of the Thacher family.|
|If you look closely, you can still catch a glimpse of the golf course landscape. We lingered too long at Miller’s Pond losing track of time. Time in December goes fast, and we were losing daylight.
So we headed straight to Grays Beach. I had heard a lot about this beach since my town of Sandwich has a boardwalk and this one rivals ours. It was beautiful in its own way, however dogs are NEVER allowed on the beaches of Yarmouth which shocked me! We had our photo op and were on our way.
We had just enough time for a quick walk, so we picked Dennis Pond Conservation area. With parking on Willow Street and Summer street, the trail is a quick out and back with nice view of Dennis Pond. This pond is shallow so there are many opportunities for viewing of wildlife. A very pretty walk with option of a Power Line addition to the walk if you are looking for extra mileage. Cute!
November is here! Am I running out of steam? YES! Even though I am having 20 people for Thanksgiving dinner and family staying at my house, this challenge forced me to get out there to a new location and out of the local rut I tend to give in to this time of year when there is no “time” to go out of town.
Orleans is a connector town in my mind. This is where the rotary links the mid cape to the towns of the outer cape. My first trail was the Three Ponds Conservation Area. This 2 mile trail was interesting in its layout. It winds around Meadow Bog Pond and Sarahs Pond as well as a few house lots and streets, so keep your pup close by for safety.
I parked at the Meadow Bog Entrance: From the intersection of Rt. 28 and Main Street in Orleans, follow MA-Route 28 toward Chatham for 2.5 miles. Turn left onto Quanset Rd and veer right at the Y to stay on the road. Follow Quanset road to trail head on left (1.2mi). There is a 1-2 car designated parking area on the corner or park at the Town Landing 200 yards farther down the road on the right.
Next Brya and I Headed out to Kents Pond Conservation Area. Another Orleans Conservation Trust property, the trail is about 1 ½ miles long. The outside loop of what is basically a finger peninsula in the northernmost part of Chatham Harbor and is intersected by several connecting trails to make the outing longer by winding around and around. There are benches to watch the beautiful scenery and a boardwalk with access to the water. STUNNING!! A Must See!!Parking is a lot at the end of Frost Fish Lane (watch for signs to Kent Point).
There are several other areas we did not get to but the two that peaked my interest were Ice House Conservation and Bakers Pond Conservation, both owned by the same Orleans Conservation Trust www.orleansconservationtrust.org
In season, the Main Street in Orleans has outdoor patio seating ripe for dining with your dog, but one can usually find a picnic table on a sun filled winter day to enjoy a salad. Don’t forget the beach policy for Orleans is Sept 16-March 14 dogs ARE allowed on all town beaches. Check out Coast Guard Beach for sure!
I basically live on the Sandwich and Barnstable town line, so I decided with the area beating the record in snow totals, I might as well stay close to home and do these two towns I know so well. Again I am only highlighting a few trails for this series, but as I do others along the way I’ll be sure to share those too!
Boyden Conservation is owned by the Town of Sandwich and great for a quick walk. Located on Cotuit Road near its intersection with Quaker Meetinghouse Road. The trail loop is approximately 1 mile, but that is not the intrigue of the trail. The best part of this walk is the field visible just off the trail so you can’t miss it! You can use this field for ball play, training purposes, or just to add mileage to the trail walk by doing its circumference. Tucked way in the back of the field surrounded by woods is a very cool cemetery where Clue #1 was taken
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Cape Cod Canal in Sandwich! This side of the canal is blessed with picnic tables at the beginning with bathrooms (always important). Marked and well maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers, this asphalt walkway is 6.5 miles to the railroad bridge, so if you are feeling energetic you could complete all 13 miles! Just past the marina at the canal is the Welcome Center open “in season” with its own covered picnic area and walk to the jetty at the mouth of the canal.
Located right off Route 6A, this beach is a six mile long barrier beach with both a trail along the marsh as well as paved trails. I learned a few new things about the beach after being a frequent visitor for many years. Run by the town of Barnstable, the upper parking lot land was donated by the Bodfish family and named in their honor as Benjamin Bodfish Park (parking lot by snack shack). You need a resident sticker for Barnstable or Sandwich to park or you will pay $15 for the day in season. Leashed dogs are allowed year round on the trail that starts from the guard shack (deep sand in spots) and on the off road beach (for which a special sticker is required-of course I have one). The main beach welcomes dogs September 15-May 15 and not during the summer months. One last note: the entire property allows hunting so be sure to check the season before heading out…. especially on the marsh trail . I have found it isn’t a hugely popular place for hunting so the risk is minimal.
There is a great book about the history of this area:
Locals raved about Eagle Pond aka Bell Farm and Little River Sanctuary in Cotuit (a village of Barnstable) so I had to see for myself. I found a few parking lots, but the largest and most convenient is just off Route 28 on Putnam Avenue. Owned by Barnstable Land Trust, a private organization, the trails around the pond are beautiful and private. However, there is a spot that you must cross a private road (Little River Road) to access the rest of the trail, and a few spots were close to the main roads, so I was a bit nervous about that. The good news is that once you cross the street there is a lovely field lined with bird feeders where we found this funny post with distances to local and NOT so local places from the trail Clue #3. It cracked me up! We will definitely be back when all the snow is melted. Here is the link to the trail map.
To learn more about the Barnstable Land Trust and how you can volunteer or donate to keep these lands pristine check out their website: http://blt.org/
There are plenty of eateries in both Towns, just a few to mention:
Sandwich: Café Chew has outside tables as soon as the weather turns as does the restaurants at Russells Corner; also not to forget the many ice cream stores some of which offer wonderful sandwiches as well -Ice Cream Sandwich; Shipwreck; Twin Acres, and Sweet Carolines. Pet Friendly Hotel=Sandwich Lodge Resort
Barnstable: Main Street in Hyannis offers many outside tables to eat and Barnstable village has the Barnstable Tavern with a courtyard and many wonderful take out spots where you can venture out to eat at the nearby marina. Pet friendly hotel: Comfort Inn, Hyannis
What a challenging month! I was able to do all but one trail in this month’s review. I did walk it in December so I did include in this article. I must say that the die-hard walkers are out there in snow shoes and cross-country skis with their dogs and everyone is still having fun! If you think your favorite trail is impassable because of snow, double-check because I was pleasantly surprised everywhere I went!
This trail is 19.3 acres of oceanfront dunes and salt marsh on Vineyard Sound. It is the only town-owned saltwater beach surrounded on 3 sides by water! When you start out, I suggest you start on the scrub brush trail. You will enter through the gate at the entrance to the parking lot. Beautiful at any time of year, unfortunately dogs are not allowed in the summer months. About 1 mile in you can take one of the sandy trails on the right to walk on the Waquoit bay side. Kayakers and kite surfers populate this area in the warmer months, and Washburn Island is in view as you stroll along. Technically part of Falmouth, this island is available for camping and hiking but you need a boat to access! Check out the website for more info http://www.waquoitbayreserve.org/visit-the-reserve/camping As you reach the point of the peninsula, you will see the jetty that separates Waquoit Bay (where I took the picture). A popular spot for fisherman, be careful climbing the rocks in the winter (live and learn) and follow the beach back to the parking lot. One of my favorite haunts! Give it a try!
Directions: From the Mashpee Rotary take Great Neck Road South past Roche Bros market and main entrance to New Seabury.. when the road bends to the right, stay straight on Great Oak Road. Take this to the end until you see a sign “all beaches”. Do not turn into the first state park lot. Just before you turn left into the parking lot you will see the gate referenced above.
Clue #2-not so obvious! Heritage Park
This was a trick! Picture was taken at Heritage Park which is 27 acres of recreational fields, playground and basketball court. A fun place for sure, but not so much for dogs! I went about a mile away to one of my top 10 walks on the cape. Lowell Holly Reservation is located on South Sandwich Road near the Sandwich town line. Owned and operated by the Trustees of the Reservation, the trails are wonderfully marked and maps abound so there is no excuse to be lost. The parking lot is small but the sign is visible from the street. This 135 acre conservation area is a GREAT place to take your dog all year long! Again surrounded on 3 sides by water, Brya loves all the opportunities for swimming. You could spend an entire day at this location in the summer as picnic tables and a portable toilet is available. Several “Beach” areas for lounging and trails are well shaded for those hot summer days (oh doesn’t that sound wonderful this time of year?) Definitely a must see. Have fun!
trail map: http://www.thetrustees.org/assets/documents/places-to-visit/trailmaps/Lowell-Holly-Trail-Map.pdf
clue #3-Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge
Located just off Great Oak Road, this huge piece of conservation is owned by the US Fish & Wildlife Service and has an enormous amount of trails, abundant wildlife and beautiful bodies of water both salt and fresh water to visit. For more information visit their site :vishttp://www.fws.gov/refuge/Mashpee/about.html
Lastly, a great area to visit with your pup is Mashpee Commons! Located right at the rotary at the junction of Route 28 and Route 151, this open are shopping mall is home to many high-end stores and great places to eat. We visited with the owner of Hot Diggity Dog who was very helpful directing us around the plaza and letting us know that in the nicer weather you have several options for dining. Bobby Byrnes has a patio, as does Panera Bread and Starbucks. Many stores have water dishes out available for visiting dogs, and the Black Dog Store (circa Nantucket) allows dogs inside their store. Even in the winter, just walking around the complex is something different to do. Open year round, Sweet Waves frozen yogurt has a few tables outside in good weather as well as a few Adirondack chairs. Brya loved her dish of vanilla!!!
Remember to support local businesses and volunteer or donate to these conservation groups who keep the areas we enjoy in such pristine condition.
This was a TOUGH month for dogs (and people) when you get 3+ feet of snow in one month! Even difficult for die hard walkers like me & Brya weren’t able to get out every day and experienced a bit of cabin fever. Now that we have given in to the fact that it’s not going anywhere, we have learned to embrace the snow!
Head to the beaches!! They are usually clear enough to walk since the snow blows into the bluffs, and if you prefer the woods for less wind chill, believe it or not we aren’t the only ones that walk in the deep snow on the trails and eventually “cut” at walkable path over time. Many trails have been tamped down by cross country skiers and snow shoe enthusiasts. Most dogs don’t care at all that we have deep snow or that it is bitter cold. So bundle up people! Some of the most beautiful landscape pictures I have are captured in the snow (especially with a black dog).
If you just can’t get out or don’t want to, stimulate your dog inside! Yes, having mental stimulation is sometimes as good as a 3 mile walk outside. This will keep them from getting bored and in to trouble J See my inspiration Caesar Milan’s article for some great ideas on this concept.