The 104-acre Great Neck Conservation Area is made up of a patchwork of protected properties that together form a scenic and diverse preserve. With views of a quiet pond, active farmland, a retired cranberry bog, and Buzzards Bay salt marshes, it’s easy to connect with nature here. The trail also links with the New England Forestry Foundation’s 60-acre Weld Memorial Forest, offering more woods to explore.
Great Neck Conservation Area’s four miles of trails are split into two well-marked loops. You can walk the shortest loop along Swan Pond for a quick escape to nature, or explore both loops for an adventure of several hours. (Download trail map)
The first loop, the red trail, is a 1.8-mile circular maze from the trailhead past Swan Pond, a private farm, and the remnants of a cranberry bog. During your walk, stop and take a seat on the bench by Swan Pond to watch for birds on the water.
Past the pond and farm, the red trail continues into the dense pine forest. This wooded section of the trail, known as Bourne Hill, is quite steep in spots. It’s called a drumlin: a smooth, teardrop-shaped ridge that was formed thousands of years ago by retreating glaciers.
From the end of the red trail, you can connect to the second loop, the 2-mile-long green trail. This trail runs through the Weld Memorial Forest before reconnecting with Great Neck Conservation Area. Hunting is allowed on New England Forestry Foundation land, so remember to wear blaze orange during hunting season.
If you venture to the farthest end of the green trail, you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful view of the salt marshes along Little Harbor. Another bench here gives you a second place to stop and relax before returning home.
Habitats & Wildlife
One of the most interesting features of Great Neck Conservation Area is its diverse variety of habitats. From pine forests to salt marshes, you can see a sampling of Buzzards Bay’s many coastal habitats in one place.
This diversity makes Great Neck Conservation Area an excellent destination to spot wildlife. Look for deer, fox, and rabbit tracks along the forest paths, especially if you visit after a snowfall. Closer to the marsh, birds like egrets, herons, and ospreys are a common sight during warm-weather months. But don’t miss this property in springtime – delicate mayflowers bloom here, filling the air with their sweet smell.
The Wildlands Trust is a nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving land and preserving the natural heritage of Southeastern Massachusetts. Since 1973, The Wildlands Trust has helped protect nearly 10,000 acres of natural and agricultural lands.