Tucked away at the end of winding Brandt Island Road in Mattapoisett, Nasketucket Bay State Reservation draws all types of outdoor explorers – from active hikers, horseback riders, and cross-country skiers to locals looking to take a stroll with their dogs. All trails lead to the reservation’s most beautiful feature: the shoreline of Nasketucket Bay, with views of West Island and the shining waters of Buzzards Bay beyond.
Another great feature of Nasketucket Bay State Reservation is how simple it is to reach: come here by car, or take a quick detour off the Mattapoisett Rail Trail to bike to the park. Plus, with the Coalition’s new Shaw Farm Trail connecting the reservation with the Phoenix Bike Trail in Fairhaven, Nasketucket is easier than ever to discover.
Nasketucket Bay State Reservation is home to six trails, each with its own distinct character. With the addition of Shaw Farm Trail, the state reservation now has a total of five miles of trails for you to explore. (Download trail map)
Start your walk on the Bridle Trail, which begins at the parking area. This wide, grassy trail circles through most of the reservation, and makes for an easy hike or bike ride. Not far down the Bridle Trail, you’ll see the entrance to Shaw Farm Trail on the right. This lovely 0.9-mile path leads north through forest and farmland to the Phoenix Bike Trail.
To reach Nasketucket Bay, stay on the Bridle Trail until it meets the Salt Marsh Trail. Turn right on this narrower path, which offers peeks of the coast through towering pines. You’ll soon reach the rocky shoreline of Nasketucket Bay. Enjoy a walk down the beach while you take in the view across the bay. When you see a large boulder at the edge of the woods, you’ll know you’ve reached the southern entrance of the Holly Trail, which will take you back to the Bridle Trail and the parking area.
To truly enjoy the sights and sounds of this loop (Bridle Trail to Salt Marsh Trail to Holly Trail), we recommend you allow an hour and a half – more if the weather’s nice enough to dip a toe into Nasketucket Bay’s sparkling clear waters!
Habitats & Wildlife
Few coastal bays in Massachusetts have such rich natural resources as Nasketucket Bay: extensive eelgrass meadows, abundant shellfish beds, and large fish and wildlife populations. That’s due in large part to land conservation, which includes the state reservation. The nearly 400 acres of forests and wetlands here protect clean water in Nasketucket Bay and in Buzzards Bay.
Within the state reservation, a mixed forest of pine, oak, beech, birch, and remarkably tall holly trees creates a sheltered environment for birds, reptiles, and woodland mammals. There are three vernal pools hidden in the woods, which provide critical habitat for breeding frogs and salamanders. Along the shoreline, look for whelk, oyster, and clam shells strewn among the rocks – a sign of the wealth of shellfish life in these clean, healthy waters.
The mission of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources for the well-being of all.