7 spots to go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in southeastern Massachusetts
If you’ve never gone snowshoeing or cross-country skiing before, this year’s snowy winter is the perfect time to give it a try!
We were inspired by local author Michelle Cusolito, who recently shared on her blog her experience snowshoeing with her son in Mattapoisett. If you don’t have the right gear, don’t worry! 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. Or just ask around — chances are you have a friend, family member, or neighbor who’ll let you borrow their gear for a day.
Finding the right spot to snowshoe or cross-country ski can be tricky, especially when searching for that balance between solitude and easy access to trails and parking areas. Stick to protected areas where you’ll be shielded from any harsh winter winds. And look for spots with wide, well-groomed trails that’ll be easy to explore on skis or snowshoes. Here are seven spots around southeastern Massachusetts that are great for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
1. Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary (Westport)
Mass Audubon’s Allens Pond Wildlife Sanctuary is a picturesque destination for any plant and animal lover. With more than 600 acres of protected land spanning across ponds, fields, beaches, marshes, and forests, Allens Pond is worth the trip no matter the season.
At Allens Pond, you can snowshoe across miles of trails while soaking in dramatic views of Buzzards Bay. Try the Quansett Trail, which offers several short loops that are perfect for snowshoeing.
2. Smith Farm (Dartmouth)
The Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust has lots of great places to explore the outdoors in Dartmouth and Westport. Smith Farm — a 140-acre former dairy farm in South Dartmouth — is one of DNRT’s picks for places to go snowshoeing. (Ridge Hill Reserves and Destruction Brook Woods are two others.)
To access Smith Farm, park at the property’s entrance on Smith Neck Road. Snap on your snowshoes and head down a 1.5 mile looping trail that leads you to Horseshoe Pond, a man-made pond that’s actually shaped like a horseshoe.
3. The Bogs/Tripps Mill (Mattapoisett)
These two Coalition-owned properties are a gateway to more than four miles of trails through the Mattapoisett River Reserve. After a snowstorm, this sprawling 200-acre reserve becomes a dazzling winter wonderland that provides an important home for many birds and mammals.
With lots of long, straight trails — criss-crossing old cranberry bogs at the The Bogs and leading through the woods at Tripps Mill — the Mattapoisett River Reserve 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.
4. Rochester Wildlife Management Area (Rochester)
Located behind Rochester Memorial School, the 70-acre Rochester Wildlife Management Area (map found on page 17 of this trail guide) is a popular fishing spot in the summer. Warm days may seem far away with all the snow on the ground, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy this special spot in winter.
As you snowshoe down the property’s wide hiking trails, you’ll certainly stop again and again to take in scenic views of the Mattapoisett River and Grandma Hartley’s Pond. Just imagine — in a few months, this will be the starting point for the annual Rochester Memorial Day Boat Race, a fun local event that’s been held here since 1934.
5. Lyman Reserve (Bourne/Plymouth/Wareham)
Fly fishing is a popular activity for visitors to the Lyman Reserve, a 210-acre Trustees of Reservations property that spills across the town borders of Bourne, Plymouth, and Wareham. There’s not much fishing going on here in the winter, but there’s still plenty of nature to explore at this beautiful preserve.
From the parking area on Red Brook Road, trek down the 1.5-mile loop trail that winds along Red Brook and through a pine barren. Across the road, head down the Beach Trail toward Buttermilk Bay, where you can snowshoe along the scenic shoreline and watch barges go past on the bustling Cape Cod Canal.
6. Four Ponds Conservation Area — Bourne Town Forest (Bourne)
A well-known mountain biking spot in the warmer months, Four Ponds Conservation Area gets its name from the four ponds it’s home to: Shop Pond, Freeman Pond, Upper Pond, and The Basin. Wide trails circle the ponds and lead north into Bourne Town Forest, providing scenic views of wildlife and diverse natural landscapes.
With plenty of parking and easy access, Four Ponds is an ideal spot to chill out on a snow day. Head there after some fresh powder for a fun day of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. For a short trek, head down one of the looping trails around the ponds. If you’re looking for a longer adventure, try the 3.6-mile Town Forest Trail.
7. Shining Sea Bikeway (Falmouth)
The 11-mile Shining Sea Bikeway, which runs north to south down the Buzzards Bay coast in Falmouth, is known to many as a great place to cycle in warmer weather. But in deep snow, it’s also an awesome cross-country skiing trail.
Get started on the bikeway in North Falmouth or Woods Hole and enjoy a smooth, easy journey along the trail. With lots of access points, stellar views, and the perfect snow pack, what are you waiting for?