10 great spots for early winter snowshoeing and skiing

Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities don’t come along too often on the South Coast, so when the snow piles up, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to dust off the skis or snowshoes and go explore the beauty and peace of the woods in winter.

Immediately after a snow fall, the best place to explore is probably your own neighborhood, providing there are no heavy wind gusts that could blow down trees and heavy limbs. A nearby park or trail, no matter how familiar, will look different when blanketed in snow. Even local roads that have yet to be plowed can offer adventure if you bundle up quick and head out to explore.

woman cross-country skiing on trail at Destruction Brook WoodsSo, if you have the gear–in the basement or the garage–dust it off, when the snow flies. If you don’t have any, you may be able to borrow from friends or family. Also, you can rent skis and snowshoes from some local outfitters. For small feet, the Mattapoisett Free Public Library rents out kids’-sized snowshoes to SAILS Network card holders.

The Buzzards Bay watershed region offers lots of interesting woodland trails to explore. Often, the best places for cross country skiing and snowshoeing will be away from the coastline. Even when winter storms include mixed precipitation by the beach, you often will find deeper and drier snow as little as ten miles inland. Here are ten great places to go in search of adventures in the snow.

One note: Early winter is also hunting season. When you go skiing and snowshoeing, you are often sharing the woods with hunters. It’s important to wear blaze orange and follow safety tips for remaining safe.

1. Destruction Brook Woods (Dartmouth)

The trails at Destruction Brook Woods are a popular destination for walkers, runners and birders. They would be great for skiing and snowshoeing. Footbridges span a babbling brook, and miles of trails weave through hundreds of acres of rolling woodlands.  The blue trail loops through hilly upland forest and Happy Valley, offering the more experienced some thrills and a bit of technical challenge.

2. Copicut Woods (Fall River)

The 516 acres of Copicut Woods offer the opportunity to delve deep into snow-covered woods. The trails here, roughly five miles of them, offer mostly wide, level paths that are good for easy adventure. From the parking area on Indian Town Road, you can head to the main trail network on the Horseshoe Trail, which runs for roughly one mile. The main trail system features several loops on wide cart paths.

3. Freetown-Fall River State Forest (Freetown)

The Freetown-Fall River State Forest is almost too big. It can be hard to know where to start. For skiing and snowshoeing, you would do well to start from the main parking area off Slab Bridge Road and head out on the wide unpaved roads that run from the parking area. An easy loop of about two miles is formed by Payne, Makepeace and Hathaway roads; those with experience, will enjoy the Bent Rim Trail, which is narrower and more hilly.

a family cross-country skiing on a trail in the woods

Cross-country skiing is a great family activity that kids will love to try. (Image: National Park Service)

4. The Bogs (Mattapoisett)

With lots of long, straight trails criss-crossing the former cranberry bogs, The Bogs is the perfect place for a cross-country skiing adventure. In fact, so many people come here to ski that you’re bound to find pre-existing tracks that’ll make it even easier to glide through the snow. Parking is limited—especially after snow storms—so we recommend carpooling if you come with friends.

5. Rochester Town Forest (Rochester)

The Rochester Town Forest features one, 1.3-mile loop trail through peaceful forests and around athletic fields at Old Colony High School The wide, easy-to-follow path, which is used by the school’s cross country teams in the fall, is a good place to give snowshoeing or cross-country skiing a try, thanks to its mostly flat grade. Enter the trail at the back of Lot A, where visitors may park.

6. Betty’s Neck (Lakeville)

The rolling meadows at Betty’s Neck could be a wonderful place for skiing and snowshoeing. You may not be able to reach the main parking area after a snowfall, but that will just add to the adventure. Many people park at informal pull-outs at Long Point Road and at the cranberry bogs that lie between the reserve and the road. You can do the same and ski or trek into Betty’s Neck

7. Rocky Gutter Wildlife Management Area (Middleboro)

The wilds of the Rocky Gutter Wildlife Management Area are an outstanding place for confident outdoor adventurers. The area contains more than 15 miles of old logging trails that are flat and easy to follow through the forest. Unless you are comfortable with a compass, you would do best to plan for an out-and-back adventure, following your tracks back to the car.

8. Myles Standish State Forest (Carver/Plymouth)

Myles Standish State Park is home to the most extensive trail network in the Buzzards Bay region. For an easy introduction to the park in winter, try the East Head Loop, a 2.6-mile path that hugs the shoreline of East Head Pond. You will find the trail near the forest headquarters. A paved bike path also runs through the same area and, when covered with snow, makes for excellent skiing.

9. Four Ponds Conservation Area and Bourne Town Forest

When covered with snow, the Four Ponds Conservation Area and Bourne Town Forest offer lots of good options for skiing and snowshoeing. Old service roads weave through the forests and around the ponds. These roads, in addition to the main marked trails, can provide hours of adventure. The main entrance on Barlows Landing Road is a good place to start.

10. Frances A. Crane Wildlife Management Area (Falmouth)

The sprawling 1,800 acres of rocky hills, fields and pine forests at Frances A. Crane Wildlife Management Area offers myriad trails, but the best for skiing and snowshoeing are in the eastern portion of the reserve. There you will find open fields and forests that are a pleasure to explore in every season.

Category: On the Land

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