The Beach Times

Having a Look at Orleans' Freshwater Ponds
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, February 17, 2020

Orleans Cape Cod

When spending your vacation in Orleans, Massachusetts, you'll probably want to check out well-known attractions like the Cape Cod National Seashore, Rock Harbor Creek, the Cape Cod Rail Trail, Little Pleasant Bay, and the Jonathan Young Windmill.

At the same time, there's a lesser-known side to Orleans that is equally as entertaining. 

This alternative version of Orleans is hidden from the masses that flock to this town of fewer than 6,000 people every summer.

That's because Orleans has 60 freshwater ponds, which are located throughout the town and provide excellent places to fish, swim, and escape the heat.

When vacationing on Cape Cod, don't forget about the kettle ponds because they provide an off-the-beaten-path oasis that is sure to add another layer to your time in this magical part of the country.

Pilgrim Lake

One of the more popular places to spend time in Orleans is Pilgrim Lake, which is just off Route 28, where Little Pleasant Bay runs into the Namequoit River.

The beachfront area features 20 parking spaces, in addition to picnic tables and a bike rack, making it a beautiful place to head for lunch.

The water here is excellent for swimming, and families tend to frequent the beach because of the shallow, calm water.

If you're into fishing, the pond has smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, pickerel, perch, and trout, and you can quickly put a boat in the water from the parking lot. Keep in mind, however, that you can't bring motorboats onto the pond, so you'll have to stick with a kayak or canoe.

Crystal Lake

Just north of Pilgrim Lake is Crystal Lake, a similarly sized pond in the middle of a residential neighborhood. Crystal Lake has two separate access points, one on the west side and the other on the east side, so you'll have a couple of options if you choose to spend the day there.

On the west side of the pond, you can access the water directly off Route 28 by exiting onto Housewrights Way. Once you're at the water, you'll see a small beach and picnic tables, making it an excellent place to take the family for lunch.

The other side of the pond features a parking lot with a trail that leads to another small beach. This lot is just off Monument Road and has designated accessible parking spaces, too.

You can carry a small boat to the water from either parking area, giving you access to the pond's trout, bass, and perch, as well.

Since each side of the pond only has about eight parking spaces, you'll want to get to Crystal Lake early to avoid disappointment.

Bakers Pond

Bakers Pond is in the western part of Orleans, not far from Brewster's Nickerson State Park. Just off Route 6, you'll come across Bakers Pond Road, which runs right past the pond and eventually comes to a parking lot.

This parking area is small and only has room for a few vehicles, but it's only a short walk down to the water once you arrive.

Generally, Bakers Pond is regarded as a fishing pond, and you can easily carry a small boat to the water from the parking lot. Remember, however, that motorized boats are prohibited.

There is also a small beach area on Bakers Pond that offers a secluded place to relax away from the bustle of the Cape's summers.

Although Bakers Pond isn't much of a swimming hole, you can wade in as the water is clean and calm.

Other Ponds in Orleans

As was mentioned, there are 60 freshwater ponds in Orleans with varying levels of accessibility. Pilgrim, Crystal, and Bakers are the only ponds with direct public access via a beach or boat launch, but some of the other sites have hiking trails to explore.

Boland Pond, which is right by Nauset Middle School and Eldredge Park, is tiny but has some hiking trails that you can take through the woods. As a bonus, there's plenty of parking available nearby.

Woodlands surround Twining's Pond, which is part of a conservation area, and Sarah's Pond. Both of these ponds are in South Orleans and feature hiking trails.

You might also be interested in visiting Gould Pond, but keep in mind that this is where the town gets much of its drinking water, so the area is protected. You are permitted to walk past the pond but can't enter the water.

You'll also encounter other ponds like Uncle Seth's Pond, Uncle Harvey's Pond, and Shoal Pond, but you'll want to steer clear because they often contain toxic algae.

Enjoy Your Vacation on the Kettle Ponds

Visiting Cape Cod can be overwhelming because of the abundance of activities from which to choose. In Orleans alone, you'll come across beaches, marinas, parks, trails, museums, and restaurants, all within a short distance of your vacation rental.

When spending time in Orleans, Massachusetts, taking some time on the kettle ponds is a wonderful way to slow things down and experience a slower pace of life. These ponds have calm waters, quiet atmospheres and provide a break from the constant excitement of the area's towns and oceanfront beaches.

Have a look at the ponds of Orleans during your Cape Cod vacation for a day of living like a local in one of the region's most scenic locations.

Bakers Pond Cape Cod Ponds Crystal Lake Kettle Ponds Orleans Pilgrim Lake

Exploring the Cape's Secret Swimming Holes
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, July 1, 2019

Nothing feels better on a hot day than a quick dip, and Cape Cod is full of incredible places to go swimming. At the same time, many local swimming areas are overcrowded in the summer, making them chaotic and less relaxing.

Luckily, the Cape’s kettle ponds provide a break from the oceanfront madness, and while many attract modest crowds throughout the summer, some of the more remote pools sit nearly empty.

Here are some secret swimming holes on Cape Cod that you’ll need a map to find and some good hiking shoes to reach, but are well worth that effort that you’ll put into getting there.


Micah Pond in Osterville

Those who know about Micah Pond are quite lucky because it sits in a convenient location, less than five minutes from downtown Osterville, and is just north of Joshua Pond, which is far more popular thanks to its parking lot and beach. While the crowds flock to Joshua Pond in the summer, the few who are aware of Micah Pond have much of it to themselves, including its rope swing.

Getting to Micah Pond is relatively straightforward from downtown Osterville, as you can follow Main Street until you reach Pond Street before heading northeast. You'll have to learn where to stop, however, as the pond's entrance isn't marked and all you'll have to go on is a small gate. You can park by the gate before following the trail on the other side of it to the water.


Hawksnest Pond in Harwich

You're going to have some trouble locating Hawksnest Pond because there are no signs, paved roads, or residential developments here. The one saving grace is that you can see the pond from Spruce Road in Harwich, which is just off the Mid-Cape Highway and a little bit south of Long Pond.

As you drive down Spruce Road, you'll come to an unmarked dirt road that leads to the water. Once you get to the pond, you'll be glad that you took the time because very few people know about this location and it's excellent for a secluded swim with no one else in the area.


Dyer Pond in Wellfleet

Dyer Pond in Wellfleet enjoys both convenience and seclusion because it is about a 15-minute walk from the parking lot at Great Pond, so you don't have to worry about finding somewhere to leave your vehicle, as long as you arrive before the area fills for the day. To reach the parking lot, all you do is exit Route 6 at Cahoon Hollow Road and follow it until you arrive at Great Pond. From there, you can walk on an old forestry road directly to Dyer Pond.

There isn't much of a beach at Dyer Pond, but you will find clear, calm water and an environment that's so secluded that it's impossible to believe that you're only about five minutes from the highway. The pond is also surrounded by a dense pine forest, adding to its secretive location and relaxing atmosphere. Perhaps the best aspect of this location is that you must have a resident sticker to park, so it would be too much of a hassle for tourists to bother trying to get there.


Duck Pond in Wellfleet

Dyer Pond isn’t the only secluded body of water near Great Pond, as Duck Pond, which is just to its south, is also a great place to check out for a swim this summer. There is only a single residence on the Pond, and it has a small beach, crystal clear water, and abundant tree cover. It’s incredibly quiet and secluded here, although it has become slightly more popular with locals in recent years.

Getting to Duck Pond is a little tricky because you'll have to park your vehicle and then walk along an unpaved, unmarked old country road. Many people find a parking spot on the Old King’s Highway before following some utility poles through a clearing. A little way into the clearing, you’ll come across a path that leads to the pond. It takes a bit of effort to reach Duck Pond, but that's just how those who know about this hidden gem like it.


Goose Pond in Chatham

Although Goose Pond has the most inhabited shoreline on this list, as there are more than a few homes on its banks, it’s also the easiest to reach, and it has a particularly pleasant swimming area at its northwest end. This area, which is called Fisherman's Landing, is suitable for kids because of its shallow water and nearby parking lot.

Reaching Goose Pond involves getting onto Old Queen Anne Road, which intersects with Main Street in Harwich and Route 28 in downtown Chatham. From there, you'll follow Old Queen Anne Road, passing Schoolhouse Pond, until you reach a dirt road that leads to the parking lot. In the future, there could be more Goose Pond access coming for the public, as the town is in negotiations to purchase 4.17 acres of land from the Atwood family for conservation purposes.


Get Out for Some Secluded Swimming

Dense forest surrounds all of these swimming holes, giving you the impression of being completely alone. It’s easy to imagine yourself as one of Cape Cod’s early settlers as you glide throughout the water without traffic or noise pollution coming from anywhere.

Places like these swimming holes go to show you that Cape Cod can be whatever you want it to be, as long as you’re willing to go and find it.

Cape Cod Ponds Chatham Duck Pond Goose Pond Harwich Hawksnest Pond Micah Pond Osterville Swimming Wellfleet

There are Over 1,000 Ponds on Cape Cod
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, March 26, 2018

Are you aware of Cape Cod’s ponds? While the ocean gets all the glory, and with good reason, as Cape Cod National Seashore, Corporation Beach, and West Dennis Beach are unquestionably some of the most stunning locations on the country's east coast, there are other beaches in the area that should receive a little more attention.

While it’s understandable that Cape Cod is known for its oceanfront beaches and attractions, you don't have to spend the day on the seashore to enjoy the water. Locals know all about the numerous kettle ponds found up and down the Cape, but, for the most part, many of these swimming holes and recreation areas remain a secret from outsiders.

The kettle ponds of Cape Cod formed 12,000 to 18,000 years ago when the Laurentide ice sheet that once covered the area began its retreat. Ice blocks remained in some areas and, over time, left depressions in the ground that eventually reached the depth of the water table. The holes left behind ultimately flooded with ground and rain water, leaving the freshwater ponds we have today.

If you're visiting Cape Cod and want to live like a local, if only for a short while, you should know that permanent residents often head to a kettle pond to get away from the crowds and experience the peace and serenity that first made the area such a popular vacation destination.

Another great feature is that numerous vacation rentals are located near or even around these ponds, so you won't have to travel far to hit the water this summer.

The Ponds of the Outer Cape

Sitting in Wellfleet is Gull Pond, a scenic water body surrounded by pine trees. There is a dock in the water, and the pond is frequented by kayaks, making it a pretty active location. There isn't much parking, and you'll need a pass to leave your vehicle there.

There are three Great Ponds on the Outer Cape, one in Wellfleet, one in Eastham, and one in Truro. Wellfleet Great Pond has a small beach and several access points, while the Eastham version features two parking lots, each with its own beach. Truro’s Great Pond is the smallest and only has a single access point with no dedicated parking area. Reusing pond names is common on the Cape, as you'll find multiple places called Long Pond, Flax Pond, and Round Pond, but what do you expect when there are over 1,000 ponds in such a small area?

Pilgrim Lake in Orleans is a favorite fishing location because it is a decent size, quiet, and full of small bays. There is even an island in the middle of the lake you can check out if you have the time. The lake has a small beach, as well, should you want to go for a swim.

Lower Cape Ponds

Nickerson State Park, a 1900-acre area in Brewster, is full of trout-fishing ponds, including Flax Pond, Cliff Pond, and Higgins Pond. Flax and Cliff ponds provide exceptional swimming because the water is usually warm and there are restrictions on power boats. If you're willing to walk down the beach a little bit, you can remove yourself from the crowds, and you'll have a private swimming hole.

Seymour Pond sits in the area between Brewster and Harwich and enjoys a quiet, serene environment. Trees surround this pond, and although one beach accessible by car, you can find other, more private access points if you're willing to hike in. The Cape Cod Rail Trail runs past part of the pond, as well.

For pure solitude, see if you can find Goose Pond. Access to this pond means taking a hidden dirt road that's just off Old Queen Anne Road in Chatham. The road is a bit bumpy, and you'll drive through thick forest before arriving at your beachfront paradise. It's well worth the effort if you're looking for peace.

Ponds across the Mid Cape

Yarmouth's Little Sandy Pond offers the best of both worlds because it has a full-blown recreation area, complete with tennis courts, a baseball diamond, a dog park, and a playground, in addition to one of the quietest, most secluded bodies of water on the Cape. Unlike other ponds, this one doesn't have any homes surrounding it, so you can experience authentic serenity once you're out on the water.

Just up the road in Barnstable is another secluded gem called Hathaway’s Pond. This pond has a swimming area called Quiet Beach, and despite being pretty close to the highway, noise isn't a significant issue. The beach has a boat launch and public washrooms, as well.

Scargo Lake in Dennis is historically significant because it is close to Scargo Tower, a hilltop tower constructed in 1901. You can experience breathtaking views of the lake and the ocean beyond from the tower, or head to Princess Beach to get up close and personal with this favorite family recreation area.

Upper Cape Kettle Ponds

Wakeby Pond and Mashpee Pond in the Mashpee region are connected and combine to create one of the Cape's top family recreation areas. On the south end of Mashpee Pond is Attaquin Park, which features a large beach, along with a playground and boat ramp, while there is a smaller, quieter beach at the south end of Wakeby Pond.

Snake Pond in Sandwich has an extensive beach that surrounds much of the water body, with a parking area found on its south shore. If you bring a kayak or canoe, you can undoubtedly head to one of the empty beaches on the other side of the pond for an afternoon of relaxation.

Grews Pond in Falmouth is well-known because it is home to Goodwill Park, a green space with a playground and picnic areas. The pond also has a beach, so you can work up a sweat with your kids at the playground before heading to the water to cool off.

Choosing the Right Pond For You

As you can see, Cape Cod has a diverse set of ponds from which to choose, so it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a lively time for the family or a relaxing place to get away from the crowds, you can find it here.

There are over 1,000 kettle ponds on the Cape, and it’s nice to know that if you arrive at one and find it’s not what you’re looking for, there another one in the surrounding area that has your name written all over it. By looking at maps and taking a drive around Cape Cod, you might even find a local favorite that most visitors won't have the chance to experience.

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