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 shores 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.
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.
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.