The Beach Times

Hiking Your Way Through the Upper Cape – Part II: Mashpee and Sandwich
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, April 27, 2020


Last time, we looked at some hiking areas in Bourne and Falmouth, which you'll run into soon after entering the Cape.

But what if you're staying in Mashpee or Sandwich and want nearby places to get into the wilderness?

You're in luck because there are plenty of great hiking trails in these communities, each providing you with an accessible spot to spend a few hours in nature without ever being too far from your amenities.

Here are a couple of the many places where you can hike into the woods in Mashpee and Sandwich during your Cape Cod vacation.

The Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge

Proceeding east from Falmouth will quickly bring you to Mashpee, home of the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge. This area is massive, taking up nearly 6,000 acres, although only about 330 acres are owned and maintained by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, with state and local groups holding the rest.

As you'd expect with such a large park, it's broken into sections with each area having a parking lot and offering a unique experience. Everything is near Route 151 in Mashpee, so you can use that road as a baseline.

First, there's the Childs River Conversation Area, which is south of Route 151 off Old Barnstable Road. This area is unmarked and doesn't have an official parking lot, but you can access it from Brown's Road. The Childs River runs through the region, and it's full of dense tree cover with a few residential areas popping up, as well.

Next, you can explore the Quashnet River Conservation Area, which is just east of the Childs River Conversation Area. There's a parking lot for the hiking area just off Route 28, and you can also access the trail from Mashpee High School and Falmouth Road. The main trail travels along the banks of the Quashnet River and is heavily forested.

North of those sections is the Quashnet Woodlands, which starts at the north end of Johns Pond. From the parking lot, the trails head east on the Quashnet River's shores and north around Moody Pond. There's a beach there too, delivering a beautiful place to cool off in the summer. Make sure you don't head too far north through the woods because the park borders the Otis Air National Guard Base and military personnel will turn you back.

There's also the South Mashpee Pine Barrens, which is southeast of the Quashnet River. The parking lot for this section is off Great Neck Road South, and you can also access it from Great Hay Road. This area features dense woods, although you're never too far from the main road, either.

Finally, you can check out the Jehu Pond Conservation Area, which has a parking lot on the pond's shores and trails that run through the forest and to Abigails Brook. Residential developments surround Jehu Pond, but heading north from the parking lot will take you into the wilderness.

In addition to these areas in Mashpee, the park also features the Crane Wildlife Management Area and the Coonamessett Reservation Area, which are located in Falmouth. You could spend your entire vacation exploring the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge without even covering a fraction of it, so plan ahead and figure out what you want to see before arriving on the Cape.

Keep an eye out for wildlife in the Mashpee National Wildlife Refuge; you might be lucky enough to see the red fox, white-tailed deer, or countless bird species that call the region home.

East Sandwich Game Farm

The East Sandwich Game Farm sits just off Route 6A, not far from the Post Office. The park is state-owned but operated by the Thornton W. Burgess Society. The society's team of volunteers keeps the refuge in great shape for visitors. Overall, the East Sandwich Game Farm is 133 acres in size, although when combined with the adjacent Talbot's Point Conservation Area, there's over 245 acres of land to explore in this section of Sandwich.

As you arrive at the East Sandwich Game Farm, you'll reach a driveway that leads to the hiking trails. The driveway is essentially a dirt road, and it's not a comfortable journey, so many people choose to park at the gates and walk from there. At the same time, there's a boat launch on Scorton Creek, giving some visitors reason to drive into the farm.

Once you enter the park, you'll find multiple hiking trails to explore, taking you along the creek and through some marshland. The trails aren't well marked, and hikers tend to lose the paths on their travels. The area is well-traveled, however, so it's easy to keep your bearings.

If you walk far enough south, you'll reach Hoxie Pond, a small body with a serene atmosphere. Hoxie Pond is an excellent place for birdwatching or to take a break while exploring.

The East Sandwich Game Farm isn't the most challenging site to hike on the Upper Cape. Still, it's easily accessible and a relaxing place to wander through the woods with your family, or all alone, without having to worry too much about navigation or difficulty.

Hiking on Cape Cod

As you make your way through these trails on the Upper Cape, you'll gain a new appreciation for Cape Cod's secluded sections. Your Cape Cod vacation is sure to include time spent at some of the region's beaches and other hot spots, but there's something special about escaping into a wilderness that sits only minutes from the crowds.

You'll quickly learn that the Cape's hiking scene is incredibly diverse, and you'll be amazed at just how much is packed into such a small part of the country.

Take the time to learn where some of the Upper Cape's top hiking areas are from your vacation rental and spend your afternoons relishing some of Cape Cod's most peaceful environments.



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