Located just minutes from bustling Route 28 and the Gray Gables neighborhood of Bourne, Nickerson Conservation Area is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. This little property is tucked between the historic Aptucxet Trading Post and the Cape Cod Canal, with the railroad bridge to the west and the Bourne Bridge to the east. A short, family-friendly trail loops through the woods before leading out to the 6.5-mile Cape Cod Canal Bikeway.
You can access the Nickerson Conservation Area trail from the west side of the gravel road that runs between the Aptuxcet Trading Post gift shop and museum. The trailhead is marked by a small Bourne Conservation Trust sign. This wide, flat, well-marked trail runs for less than half a mile, making it a great place for a stroll with young explorers. (Download trail map)
The trail leads you through sun-dappled woods of young oak, pine, and maple trees. For a slightly longer walk, turn south at the first trail intersection to divert onto a loop trail, which cuts deeper into the woods before reconnecting with the main trail to the canal.
The main trail lets out along the Cape Cod Canal Bikeway between Tidal Flats Recreation Area and Bourne Recreation Area. Here, you can continue strolling for miles while you enjoy fantastic views of the canal and its iconic bridges.
Habitats & Wildlife
Nickerson Conservation Area offers a small oasis of woodland among busy suburban areas. Spring songbirds call out from the canopy above and tiny chipmunks might race across the trail in front of you. A small wetland borders the eastern side of the trail leading to the canal; you may hear frogs calling out here in the spring and summer.
If you continue your walk along the Cape Cod Canal, keep an eye out for a variety of birds — the canal is a hotspot for ducks and seabirds during the winter months, and birders often spot bald eagles here.
The Bourne Conservation Trust (BCT) is a nonprofit land trust with a primary objective of acquiring land and leaving it in its natural state. The BCT owns and maintains over 200 acres of open space with miles of walking trails.