Sunset at the mouth of Red Brook where it flows into Buttermilk Bay.

Exploring the Lyman Reserve, Southeastern MA

Text & Photography by Tom Richardson

Straddling the towns of Wareham, Bourne and Plymouth in southeastern Massachusetts, the 210-acre Lyman Reserve is managed by the Trustees of Reservations, and is home to one of the last remaining native sea-run brook trout fisheries in the eastern United States.

Red Brook is home to a population of wild searun brook trout.

A dirt parking area off Head of the Bay Road provides a jumping-off point to 1.5 miles of trails that wind through pine forest and saltmarsh habitat. You can also access the beach bordering the edge of Buttermilk Bay and the mouth of Red Brook. Along the way, you can expect to see numerous bird species ranging from blue heron and egrets to redwing blackbirds and ovenbirds. Osprey, hawks, ducks and wading birds are also prevalent in this rich and diverse ecosystem.

Logs have been placed along Red Brook to provide habitat for brook trout.

Red Brook itself is a shallow, narrow waterway born from cold-water springs. From its headwaters in Plymouth’s White Pond, it winds through cranberry bogs and pine forest before entering Buttermilk Bay. Its downstream section provides habitat for the rare sea-run, or “salter,” brook trout that spend their winters in the bay and the warmer months in Red Brook. Each spring, staff with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife conduct electrofishing surveys of the trout population in the brook, and managed to collect a remarkable number of specimens, many of which are tagged. The brook is also home to eel, stickleback, killifish and herring.

An ovenbird calls from a branch in the Lyman Reserve.

Fishing is allowed in the brook, although all trout must be released and the use of natural bait is prohibited. Fishing for striped bass and bluefish around the mouth of the brook can be productive from May through October.

An informational kiosk featuring trail maps can be found at the parking area off Head of the Bay Road.

Open sunrise to sunset, the reserve makes for an easy hike for small children. Dogs must be leashed.

Download a Trail Map

Redwing blackbird in the marshes of the Lyman Reserve.