11 places to explore in the Mattapoisett River Valley

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The Mattapoisett River Valley is a destination for people to go hiking, fishing, paddling, hunting, wildlife watching, and exploring. It also provides clean drinking water for thousands of local residents in Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion, and Rochester – which is why the Coalition has worked to protect more than 1,500 acres of land here since 2001. The valley is an oasis of forests, streams, and wetlands with abundant wildlife, including a number of rare and threatened plants and animals and a historically active herring run.

From Snipatuit Pond to Mattapoisett Harbor, you can follow the course of the Mattapoisett River by taking a walk, paddle, boat trip, or picnic at these 11 places.

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1. George E. Wood Memorial Fishermen’s Access Ramp (Rochester)

Snipatuit Pond in Rochester is a great place to go freshwater fishing

Launch a canoe into Snipatuit Pond from the George E. Wood Memorial Fishermen’s Access Ramp to go fishing for species like largemouth bass, pickerel, and yellow perch.

Start your journey through the Mattapoisett River Valley at its headwaters: Snipatuit Pond, a natural freshwater pond in Rochester. You can access the shoreline of Snipatuit Pond from the George E. Wood Memorial Fishermen’s Access Ramp. Launch a canoe, kayak, or small boat from this gravel ramp to enjoy a morning fishing or paddling. Snipatuit Pond is a great spot to fish for freshwater species like largemouth bass, pickerel, and yellow perch.

2. Rochester Wildlife Management Area (Rochester)

Rochester Wildlife Management Area is a popular fishing spot and walking trail with scenic views of open ponds, woods, and the Mattapoisett River. Explore flooded former cranberry bogs, reservoirs, and dikes on a maze of wide, level wooded paths. The easternmost reservoir off Snipatuit Road, known as Grandma Hartley’s Pond, is the starting point for the annual Rochester Memorial Day Boat Race that has been held since 1934.

3. Kirby Preserve (Rochester)

frog at the Kirby Preserve in RochesterAt 3.5 acres, the Rochester Land Trust’s Kirby Preserve is a small but interesting property with quiet loop trails that meander around small hills and lowland that used to be an old gravel borrow pit. A short plank footbridge crosses an intermittent stream, which flows from the north into a certified vernal pool. The loop trail can be walked in as little as 15-20 minutes, making for a quick getaway to nature.

4. Shoolman Preserve (Rochester)

Explore fields and pine forests along the Mattapoisett River in Rochester at Shoolman Preserve. Once a family farm called “Oldfield,” this property co-owned by the Mattapoisett Land Trust and the Rochester Land Trust is now maintained for birds — and explorers like you! Follow a trail around a hayfield and through the forest to discover freshwater wetlands, a riverside picnic area, and a scenic holly grove.

5. Church’s Field (Rochester)

With views of the Mattapoisett River and remnants of an old sawmill and settlement, Church’s Field in Rochester offers lots to discover in its 32 acres. This property was in the Church family for nearly 400 years before the Rochester Land Trust acquired it in 2010 for conservation and outdoor exploration. Sit for a while to take in the peaceful scenery from a rustic riverfront bench.

6. Tinkhamtown Woodlands & Woodcock Preserve (Mattapoisett)

vernal pool at the Woodcock Preserve in Mattapoisett

See a large vernal pool up close at the Mattapoisett Land Trust’s Woodcock Preserve, which borders Tinkhamtown Woodlands.

Set on the northern edge of the Mattapoisett River Reserve, Tinkhamtown Woodlands preserves over 100 acres of forests and wetlands. A mile of trails connects this Coalition property and its neighbor, the Mattapoisett Land Trust’s Woodcock Preserve, with the rest of the Mattapoisett River Reserve. Take a journey along the fern-lined trails on foot, bike, or horseback, but make sure to stop and enjoy the Woodcock Preserve’s vernal pool.

7. Tripps Mill (Mattapoisett)

History and natural beauty abound at Tripps Mill, a scenic waterfront spot in the expanding Mattapoisett River Reserve. Located next to Tinkham Pond in Mattapoisett, this Coalition-owned property is an ideal place to enjoy a walk in the woods or an afternoon of freshwater fishing in the pond. Drop a line into Tinkham Pond to search for freshwater fish like sunfish, perch, and pickerel, or take a fun treasure-hunting adventure for the hidden geocache along the pond’s wooded edge.

8. The Bogs (Mattapoisett)

freshwater swamp at The Bogs in autumn

Part of the growing Mattapoisett River Reserve, The Bogs is home to a freshwater shrub swamp, which is a unique habitat for southeastern New England.

In the heart of the Mattapoisett River Reserve lies The Bogs, a natural oasis located just minutes from Interstate 195 in Mattapoisett. This Coalition-owned property offers visitors a unique southeastern Massachusetts landscape to discover. 50 acres of cranberry bogs stretch out at the entrance to the property, with wide trails leading to a large, scenic freshwater shrub swamp and 120 acres of protected forest along the back edge.

9. New Boston Trail (Fairhaven)

New Boston Trail is the most recent addition to the Coalition’s Mattapoisett River Reserve. The trailhead, located on New Boston Road in Fairhaven, connects with The Bogs to create a network of more than five miles of trails to explore. New Boston offers views into the diverse forest and wetland habitats that Mattapoisett River Reserve was created to protect, and it rewards those who slow down to look for the fine details: unfurling fiddlehead ferns in the late spring and early summer, a variety of mushrooms peeking out after rainy days, frogs hiding in muddy ponds, and the tell-tale remains of a squirrel’s afternoon pine cone snack beneath the beech trees.

10. Mattapoisett Rail Trail (Mattapoisett)

small wooden bridge over the Mattapoisett River

Explore beyond the paved portion of the Mattapoisett Rail Trail to discover a scenic bridge across the Mattapoisett River.

With its flat, paved path through a mile of lush forests in Mattapoisett, the growing Mattapoisett Rail Trail is a safe and beautiful place for local bicyclists to explore. Beyond the pavement’s end at Mattapoisett Neck Road, a forested footpath leads walkers about a half-mile to a bridge with a stunning view of the Mattapoisett River.

11. Mattapoisett Town Landing (Mattapoisett)

Complete your Mattapoisett River Valley adventure at the river’s endpoint at Mattapoisett Harbor. Here, the river connects with salty tidal waters from Buzzards Bay. Residents can explore the meeting place of river and harbor from Mattapoisett Town Landing, a town-owned boat launch and picnic area.

Category: Featured Adventures

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