12 places on the South Coast to take a Sunday stroll in 2017

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With a new year comes the opportunity to set personal goals that will help you achieve a happier, healthier life. Our favorite New Year’s resolution is a simple goal: to take a walk outside once a week. Even if you have a busy schedule, making the time for a simple Sunday stroll can help improve your heart health, ease stress, and create a connection to the outdoors.

In 2017, we’re partnering with Southcoast Health to host “Sunday Strolls” at parks, trails, and beaches across the South Coast. At these free monthly walks, you can spend your Sunday morning discovering new trails and treasured views of woods, waterways, and wetlands.

Whether you join us for a guided Sunday Stroll or take a walk on your own, here are 12 great places on the South Coast where you can commit to a healthy Sunday stroll habit throughout the new year.

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1. William Minot Forest (Wareham)

trailhead at Minot Forest Elementary School

Begin your Sunday stroll through William Minot Forest at the trailhead behind Minot Forest Elementary School.

Located next to Minot Forest Elementary School and several residential neighborhoods, William Minot Forest in Wareham is a convenient place for local residents to take a Sunday stroll. From the Minot Forest Elementary School trailhead, meander through 200 acres of hilly pine and oak woods while listening for songbirds. There is a network of trails that you can mix and match to meet your preference — from a short loop trail to a several mile trek.

2. East Head Pond Loop, Myles Standish State Forest (Carver)

This 2.6-mile path hugs the shoreline of East Head Pond in Carver’s Myles Standish State Forest, making for a perfect Sunday stroll. Start your journey at the forest headquarters, where there is plenty of free parking. Bring this nature guide along with you to point out some of East Head Pond’s natural sights, such as towering white pines, delicious blueberries in the understory (in summer), and muskrats peeking up from the pond’s surface.

3. Washburn Park (Marion)

people walking a dog on a trail past a pond at Washburn Park in Marion

Dogs are welcome to join you on your stroll along the trails at Washburn Park in Marion.

Venture beyond the well-manicured fields at Marion’s popular Washburn Park, and you’ll find a few miles of gentle, secluded trails that weave through the pine forest. The westward trail – a straight out-and-back path – will lead you across wetlands and past a cranberry bog. The looping eastward trail borders a small pond where flocks of ducks and geese often float on the surface.

4. Rounseville II Preserve (Rochester)

Conveniently located next to the ball fields at Raynor Gifford Park in Rochester (look for the Wildlands Trust sign at the forest edge), Rounseville II Preserve features an easy loop trail along a stream and an old cranberry bog – perfect for a family walk after church or a baseball game. On this circling journey through the woods, the trail passes an old cranberry bog, climbs a gentle hill, and skirts the edge of wetlands along Sherman Brook.

5. Munn Preserve (Mattapoisett)

a woman walks down the trail at the Munn Preserve in Mattapoisett

The easy trail at the Munn Preserve in Mattapoisett leads straight to the shore, overlooking Brandt Island Cove and Buzzards Bay.

For a sparkling view of one of Buzzards Bay’s quietest coves, look no further than the Munn Preserve in Mattapoisett. Located near the end of Mattapoisett Neck Road, the Munn Preserve has a straight, easy trail through the woods to the shores of Brandt Island Cove. It’s a favorite strolling destination for local dog owners, as well as families with small children. When you reach the beach, take a moment to stop and enjoy the beautiful coastal view.

6. West Island Town Beach/West Island State Reservation (Fairhaven)

Set along the crescent-shaped southern shore of West Island in Fairhaven, West Island Town Beach is a great place to experience the serenity of the seashore all year round. Take a scenic stroll down the sand to soak up views of boats and barges on Buzzards Bay. The beach neighbors acres of protected forest at West Island State Reservation, which offers more opportunities for walks through nature.

7. The Sawmill (Acushnet)

two young women walking through the woods at The Sawmill in Acushnet

The Sawmill’s easy looping trail offers plenty of interesting natural views.

At the edge of New Bedford’s urban North End sits The Sawmill, a natural retreat for wildlife and residents alike. The main trail is about a half-mile long and relatively flat — perfect for an easy Sunday stroll. Journey across boardwalks through a red maple swamp, and then loop through a meadow and the woods. Along the way, stop at the North River Overlook to watch for birds on the river’s calm waters.

8. New Bedford Harbor Walk (New Bedford)

Experience bustling New Bedford Harbor from up high on the New Bedford Harbor Walk, a popular new waterfront destination in the South End of the city. The paved Harbor Walk, which runs for roughly three-quarters of a mile atop a portion of the Hurricane Barrier, is the best place to see New Bedford’s unique mix of natural and man-made wonders. At night, the walkway is lined with lights, so it’s a nice spot for a stroll after Sunday dinner.

9. Parsons Reserve (Dartmouth)

a group of people walking along a wet trail through the woods at Parsons Reserve in Dartmouth

Although it’s a brief walk, the trail at the Parsons Reserve in Dartmouth dips low through wet valleys in some places. Sturdy hiking boots are a must!

Parsons Reserve’s most well-known feature is its sweeping daffodil field, which generally blooms in April. But that’s hardly the only reason to visit this lovely Dartmouth reserve. Year-round, it’s a beautiful place to explore trails through hilly forests and wooded wetlands. You can stroll the trails on this 32-acre property in about an hour. Though brief, the hiking trail climbs short, steep hills in a few places and dips low through wet valleys in others.

10. Freetown-Fall River State Forest (Freetown/Fall River)

For a true walk in the woods, head to Freetown-Fall River State Forest, which has over 50 miles of trails to explore. If you’re looking for a simple Sunday stroll, we recommend one of two paths: the short, family-friendly loop past famous Profile Rock, or the wide bridle trail out to “The Ledge,” an old quarry with an outstanding treetop view.

Sign up for a guided Sunday Stroll at Freetown-Fall River State Forest on Sunday, Oct. 8.

11. Westport Town Farm (Westport)

trail through a stone wall at Westport Town Farm

The hiking trails at Westport Town Farm traverse historical stone walls that have been restored by The Trustees, which owns this property.

History comes to life at Westport Town Farm, where you can enjoy stunning views of rolling farmland along the banks of the East Branch of the Westport River. In addition to its fascinating history, Westport Town Farm has a mile of trails past an old barn and through grassy pastures – perfect for an easy stroll. As you walk, look for birds like swallows, sparrows, and black-capped chickadees swooping through the open fields and perched in the trees.

Sign up for a guided Sunday Stroll at Westport Town Farm on Sunday, Sept. 10.

12. Gooseberry Island (Westport)

If you’re looking for a Sunday stroll with a salty breeze and breathtaking coastal views, Gooseberry Island in Westport is the place to go. A wide, sandy path runs for about a half-mile down the length of the island. At the end, take either spur to the beach and loop around the tip of the island. This is a great place to look for migratory birds, admire beach treasures like shells and rocks, and watch a dramatic sunset from the rocky western side of the island.

Sign up for a guided Sunday Stroll at Gooseberry Island on Sunday, Sept. 10.

Category: Featured Adventures

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