The coastal town of Wareham in southeastern Massachusetts has a lot going for it in terms of offering access to a wide range of outdoor activities. From paddling and fishing to mountain biking and hiking, there are miles of woods and waters to explore.
A fine hiking option is the Great Neck Conservation Area, comprising two contiguous properties that combine to offer a walk through varied coastal habitats. Parking is available for several vehicles along Crooked River Road, where you will find an informational kiosk. Follow the green arrows past a saltwater marsh, an abandoned cranberry bog, and the shores of Swan Pond.
After passing the pond, the narrow path skirts a working farm and leads to the Minot-Weld Conservancy, dominated by a mature white-pine forest. To the southeast, pitch pines surround Griffith Bog, which was cultivated as a cranberry bog in the early 20th century and is now reverting to a white cedar swamp. The property also contains several important vernal pools, which teem with life in the spring.
There are two short loop trails (red and green), which can be combined to form one big loop that can be completed in one to two hours. The red-marked trail leads up Bourne Hill (a drumlin formed by retreating glaciers) and through the Philip Saltonshall-Weld Memorial Forest, owned and managed by the New England Forestry Foundation. This trail eventually leads to the Mink-Cove Elkins Reservation, a coastal preserve that offers excellent birding opportunities. Mink Cove is a tidal cove that connects with the larger Little Harbor, and is home to osprey, herons, whimbrel, oystercatchers, terns, willet, and more.