1. Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary (Westport/Dartmouth)
The Beach Loop Trail at Mass Audubon’s Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary is a perfectly refreshing way to get outside after Thanksgiving. Follow the rocky shore, with its sweeping views of Buzzards Bay, and then loop back through the salt marshes of Allens Pond. With stunning coastal scenery like this, what more is there to be thankful for?
2. Slocum’s River Reserve (Dartmouth)
Coastal farms are part of what defines the western portion of the Buzzards Bay region, and you’ll find a beautiful example of one at Slocum’s River Reserve in Dartmouth. Co-managed by The Trustees and the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust, Slocum’s River Reserve offers visitors two miles of trails to explore. Amble through the woods until you reach the western shoreline of the Slocums River, where you can take in an awesome view of the river’s protected tidal flats and salt marshes.
The Slocum’s River Reserve is also home to The River Project, a year-long exhibit of sculptures celebrating art and nature. That means you can enjoy not just natural scenery on your walk, but also site-specific art installations along the trail.
3. Buttonwood Park (New Bedford)
If you live in the New Bedford area, then you’ve probably been to Buttonwood Park once or twice. But take some time to rediscover the park, and you might learn things you never knew existed there!
Buttonwood Park was designed in 1895 by Charles Eliot of the Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot architectural firm. Today, the park offers unique experiences like a tree arboretum and a wildlife buffer garden. What’s more, the park is easily accessible and walkable for people of all abilities, which makes it a great place to enjoy a post-holiday jaunt if you have small children or elderly family members.
4. The Sawmill (Acushnet)
Our list wouldn’t be complete without the Buzzards Bay region’s newest park: The Sawmill! Earlier this month, the Coalition opened this restored natural area on the edge of Acushnet and New Bedford’s North End.
With clear, calm views of the Acushnet River, The Sawmill will make you forget that you’re just steps from the bustling city. Explore woods, wetlands, and meadows on the short, looping trail through the forest. The trails at the front of the park are wide and flat, so visitors with wheelchairs and strollers can journey to several river overlooks here at the former home of the Acushnet Saw Mills Company.
5. Fort Phoenix State Reservation (Fairhaven)
History is often on our minds around Thanksgiving, and what better place to explore part of our past than at Fort Phoenix State Reservation in Fairhaven? History buffs will have a blast checking out this Revolutionary War-era coastal fortification that was attacked by the British during a raid in 1778.
But Fort Phoenix isn’t just worth a visit for its history. The small state reservation and town park offers visitors a stunning view of Buzzards Bay, with a steady stream of fishing vessels and ferries steaming past. Admire the scene on a walk down the beach or along the adjacent hurricane barrier that juts out across New Bedford Harbor.
6. Shaw Farm Trail/Nasketucket Bay State Reservation (Fairhaven/Mattapoisett)
Just off the bike path in Fairhaven sits Shaw Farm Trail, a new nature trail that the Coalition opened this summer. In just under a mile, you’ll walk past golden farmland, through dense patches of forest, and across wetlands and meadows on your way to Nasketucket Bay State Reservation.
Shaw Farm Trail connects with the state reservation’s Bridle Trail, which leads visitors to the Salt Marsh Trail and Nasketucket Bay itself. The views here are sweeping, and traveling through the forest to the shoreline is always lovely.
7. Aucoot Woods: White Eagle Parcel (Marion)
Aside from turkey and mashed potatoes, one of the centerpieces of your Thanksgiving dinner was certainly cranberries. If you care to admire a scenic bog landscape where our cranberries come from, then head to the White Eagle Parcel of Aucoot Woods in Marion. This Sippican Lands Trust property is conveniently located off Route 6, but it offers a wealth of natural scenery that will make you feel like you’re miles from civilization.
8. Church Wildlife Conservation Area (Rochester)
Generosity is a big part of the holiday season, and it’s something you can celebrate at Church Wildlife Conservation Area in Rochester. Owned by the Rochester Land Trust, this property was dedicated in 2007 in the memory of George and Katherine Church, whose with it was for the land to be preserved for all to enjoy.
The circular trail begins and ends at the field surrounding the cellar hole of an old homestead. While you walk, watch for woodland birds as well as deer, fox, and raccoons.
9. Lyman Reserve (Wareham/Bourne/Plymouth)
Whether you want to head inland or toward the shore, The Trustees’ Lyman Reserve offers a pleasant walk that’s close to Wareham, Bourne, and Plymouth. The views at this preserve are beautiful, and it packs a lot of landscape into a small area.
Wind your way across rustic bridges and through sandy pine uplands along a 1.5-mile loop trail to explore Red Brook, home to one of the last remaining native sea-run brook trout fisheries in the eastern U.S. Or head down another short trail to Buttermilk Bay’s sandy shores, where you can catch a glimpse of the Cape Cod Canal railroad bridge.
10. Little Bay/Monks Park (Bourne)
The walk at Little Bay and Monks Park is a bit of a hilly one, but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with gorgeous views of Little Bay and Buzzards Bay beyond. These two adjacent properties, owned by the Bourne Conservation Trust, offer a full spectrum of Bourne nature within a relatively small area.
From the parking area on Valley Bars Road, you can head down a loop trail into either property to explore the forest. Park benches are placed throughout the properties, giving you a place to rest and soak up the scenery.
11. Collins Woodlot/Moraine Trail (Falmouth)
Whether you want to take a long hike or a short stroll, head to Falmouth’s moraine trail for your day-after-Thanksgiving walk. There are many sections of the trail scattered up and down Route 28, but a good central spot is Collins Woodlot at the intersection of Brick Kiln Road.
The 130-acre Collins Woodlot offers a variety of interesting natural features to explore, such as a scenic pine bowl kettle hole. The maze of trails often follows the ridges, providing views of the treetops and even Buzzards Bay. South of Brick Kiln Road, you can follow the moraine trail all the way to the town forest and Long Pond.