Three stately tupelo trees stand tall on the shore of Nasketucket Bay.

Coastal Wandering: Nasketucket Bay State Reservation, Mattapoisett, MA

Text & Photography by Tom Richardson

If you’re looking for an easy hike that takes you through a variety of coastal habitats, head for Nasketucket Bay State Reservation in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts. The 400-acre property, which is owned and managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation, features six well-groomed trails that lead through meadows and woods, as well as along the rocky shore of Nasketucket Bay, part of Buzzards Bay. Be sure to wear tick repellent and boots as many of the trails can be wet and muddy in places, especially in the spring.


Beech trees offer a late-season burst of color along the woodland trails.

The reservation is pet-friendly and features a bridle trail for horses. If you like to fish, bring a rod, because the inshore waters hold striped bass and bluefish, especially in the late spring and fall. In winter, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are possible activities, although the lack of snowfall in recent years has made this a rarity. Be aware that hunting is allowed on the reservation, so make sure dogs are leashed and that you are wearing blaze-orange clothing in the fall and early winter.

The reservation features six different trails, all of them well-marked.

Birdlife abound in the reservation, and it’s easy to see as many as a dozen different species in the course of a short walk. Resident birds include blue jays, flicker, hawks, chickadee, titmice, wrens, thrush, sparrows, and owls, while seasonal visitors include orioles, warblers, egret, osprey, goldfinch, heron, plovers, oystercatchers, and more. Vernal pools in the woods provide important habitat for amphibians such as salamanders and frogs. As you walk the woodland trails sheltered by holly, oak, red maple and pine, keep an eye out for garter, milk, ribbon, and racer snakes, as well as Eastern box turtles.

You can access the reservation from Route 6, to Brandt Island Road to Brandt Beach Road, where you’ll find a parking lot and informational kiosk. You can also combine a hike with a bike ride along the Mattapoisett Rail Trail, which connects to the reservation via the Shaw Farm Trail (a Buzzards Bay Coalition property). The Rail Trail also links to the Phoenix Bike Trail that runs through neighboring Fairhaven and New Bedford.

Download Trail Map

Nasketucket Bay Reservation is located in southeastern Massachusetts, on Buzzards Bay.