With swelling waves that crash on the shell-littered shore, Horseneck Beach State Reservation is among Buzzards Bay’s best and most well-known beaches. Visitors travel from all over to play in the surf and sand here each summer. Even in winter, Horseneck Beach attracts locals who come in the off-season to walk the mile-long stretch of shoreline all the way to Cherry & Webb Beach.
Although most people visit Horseneck for the beach, there’s a whole outdoor world to explore here. The reservation is home to nearly 600 acres of protected land, including gorgeous salt marshes along the East Branch of the Westport River. Launch a kayak from nearby Emma Tripp Landing to discover miles of tidal inlets that cut through the marsh. Explore the history and ecology of the area at the Horseneck Point Life-Saving Station and Gooseberry Island, which occupy the southeastern end of the reservation. Or stay at the popular 100-site Horseneck Beach campground (open mid-May through mid-October) for an oceanfront getaway.
A paved, ADA-accessible walking path runs along the two-mile stretch of sandy beach. For a wilder walk, explore the nature trails at nearby Gooseberry Island, a rocky island that’s part of the reservation.
Habitats & Wildlife
Horseneck Beach is a wide barrier beach that protects the sensitive Westport River inlet. The beach is known for its sandy, rolling dunes, which separate the beach from the parking area. In addition to providing beautiful scenery, these dunes are a critical habitat that helps replenish the beach after big storms.
If you’re a birder, head to Horseneck to find one of New England’s premier birdwatching locations. Keep an eye on the sky for migrating birds, particularly in spring and fall. Rare piping plovers nest on the beach, so please stay away from any marked nesting areas.
Behind the beach, acres of rich salt marshes along the East Branch of the Westport River estuary draw egrets, ospreys, herons, and salt marsh sparrows. Salt marshes also act as important nurseries for crabs, fish, and shellfish, so take a peek at the shoreline to catch a glimpse of this vibrant life.
In summer, park interpreters host free walks and exploration programs throughout the week for visitors who want to learn more about the reservation’s habitats and wildlife.
Beaches, wooded parks, parkways, and reservoirs — all of these places make up the Massachusetts state parks, operated by the Department of Conservation and Recreation.