In the heart of the Mattapoisett River Valley, 0n the South Coast of Massachusetts, lies an unexpected oasis of forest and freshwater wetlands called the Mattapoisett River Reserve. With 300 acres to explore, the Reserve offers the public a unique (and free) outdoor destination for hiking, birdwatching, mountain biking, and even fishing and hunting, just minutes from Interstate 195.
When you enter the Mattapoisett River Reserve at The Bogs, one of two public entrances located along Acushnet Road, you quickly see how the property got its name. A sweeping view of former cranberry bogs stretches for 50 acres. Trails crisscross the bogs, leading visitors deeper into the Reserve.
The bogs were actively managed and harvested for 80 years, until the Buzzards Bay Coalition purchased the property in 2011. Although the bogs are now retired from commercial production and will eventually revert to wetlands, cranberries still grow in a few areas and are available for public harvest.
At the back edge of the reserve lies a freshwater swamp teeming with wildlife. Colorful wildflowers grow along the edge of the swamp in summer, and turtles laze on logs. Expect to see many types of birds, from osprey to great blue heron to orioles. Waterfowl such as mallards, black ducks, and wood ducks paddle past, dabbling for food in the shallow water.
The Mattapoisett River Reserve is an excellent destination for hiking and walking. The trails are wide and fairly even, giving mountain bikers a good place to ride. Dogs are welcome at the reserve, as long as owners keep them under control and clean up after them.
The reserve’s trail network leads through the former cranberry bogs and along the swamp into a forest of tall pines. As you walk through the woods, you can hear water flowing along Tripps Mill Brook, a tributary of the Mattapoisett River. And if you’re lucky (and quiet), you may catch sight of a deer or flock of wild turkey. And keep an eye out for the resident (and harmless) black racer snake!
At the northern edge of the Mattapoisett River Reserve lies Tinkham Pond, a freshwater pond that feeds into Tripps Mill Brook. The reserve hugs the southern shore of Tinkham Pond, offering an access point for visitors to fish for bass, sunfish, yellow perch and other freshwater species.
With a convenient parking area across the street on Acushnet Road, Tripps Mill is an excellent place cast a line or enjoy afternoon picnic along the water. You’ll also find a trailhead here, where you can head south through the woods toward The Bogs.
The Mattapoisett River Reserve is a place you’ll want to visit yourself soon. For more information about the Reserve and other places to get outside around the Buzzards Bay region, visit www.savebuzzardsbay.org.