The Beach Times

A Guide to the Conservation Areas of Dennis, Massachusetts
Posted by Kinlin Grover | Monday, April 6, 2020

Dennis, MA, and the rest of Cape Cod are famous for their beaches, history, restaurants, and all-around coastal lifestyle, but there's another side of the area that you might have missed.

At first glance, you'll notice that Dennis seems pretty thoroughly developed, with each of its villages having downtown areas and residential neighborhoods, but did you know that large sections of town are protected?

Throughout Dennis, you'll discover a variety of conservation areas with forested hiking trails to explore. These areas are protected from development, ensuring that the Cape's ecosystem remains intact for generations to come.

If you want to see what Cape Cod was like before European settlement, take a wander through a conservation area or two during your vacation. Hiking doesn't get much better than this.

Indian Lands

On the shores of the Bass River, just south of the Mid-Cape Highway and Kelley's Bay, is the Indian Lands Conservation Area. The Cape Cod Rail Trail runs through this area, and there is a parking lot for it, too, making it an excellent place to begin a bike ride.

In addition to the Rail Trail, conservation area visitors will find hiking trails and some places to stop for a picnic. The park permits dogs, and it's possible to carry a kayak or canoe from the parking lot to explore the river. If you don't have a boat, you can fish from the shore, as well.

Fresh Pond

Fresh Pond Conservation Land is in West Dennis, just off East-West Dennis Road. The pond is a short distance from the village's downtown area, making is easily accessible for anyone with a vacation rental there, and features decent-sized parking lot.

Locals know that Fresh Pond is, first and foremost, a dog park, with two fenced areas in addition to a trail network that wraps around the water. From the trails, you can access some beaches, giving your pet a chance to cool off, or let your dogs run the trails.

You can also hike, fish, kayak, or picnic at Fresh Pond, but be aware that there will likely be numerous dogs around when you visit.

Flax Pond

Cape Cod has multiple bodies of water called Flax Pond. This particular version is surrounded by trails and features some of the Cape's best bass fishing. Flax Pond in Dennis sits just north of Follins Pond near the town's border with Yarmouth and is deserving of a visit during your time here.

Parking for Flax Pond is on Setucket Road, as there is a dirt lot with a direct trail to the water. The path is well-manicured, making it possible to carry a kayak to the pond for some fishing, and you'll see numerous swimming areas as you hike, as well.

Dogs are permitted at Flax Pond, as is hunting. As a result, you'll want to keep an eye out for signs during the hunting season.

Crowes Pasture

The lone conservation area on this list with direct ocean access is Crowes Pasture, which sits on the banks of Quivett Creek and runs all the way to Cape Cod Bay. This area has multiple parking areas, allowing visitors to explore the various trails or find a secluded section of beach.

Getting to Crowes Pasture is relatively easy, as you can take South Street, which is just north of the Old King's Highway in East Dennis. Keep in mind that while there are numerous parking lots, most are very small and tend to fill quickly, particularly in the summer.

You are permitted to bring your dog to the beach, but remember that these sandy areas are a piping plover habitat. There will be signs when piping plover are nesting, at which time you'll have to keep your pets away.

If you've invested in an off-road vehicle permit through the town of Dennis, you can take your vehicle onto the beach, too. This pass makes it easier to put a kayak in the water and do some fishing, or simply spend the day relaxing in the sun. Keep an eye on the town of Dennis' website because off-road access periodically closes to protect the piping plover habitat.

Blueberry Patch

If you head to the Blueberry Patch Conservation Area, you'll immediately notice that it's different from the rest because it's made of three separate areas: Cross Patch, Romig, and Simpkins Neck.

The parking area is on New Boston Road, a short distance west of the Hall Street turnoff. From there, you can hike the 1.5 miles of trails or venture off for a closer look at the salt marshes that surround Chase Garden Creek.

As the name suggests, there is a blueberry patch here, as well, but it's reserved for Dennis residents only. If you don't have proof of residency, you run the risk of getting a ticket for picking berries.

Swan Pond Overlook

Swam Pond is the most civilized conservation area on this list, as you can park on Center Street in Dennis Port before hiking the trails. These trails are butterfly-shaped and cross each other frequently, so you can walk as little as a mile or far longer if you wish.

There's also a large picnic area at Swan Pond, making it the perfect place to head for a late-morning hike followed by a scenic meal overlooking the water.

Explore Dennis' Protected Areas

Check out some of these conservation areas during your Cape Cod vacation to experience this region's natural environment and to see what the Cape was like before development.

Dennis' conservation lands provide you with an excellent place to escape the crowds and cool off at a pond or in the shade of the forest.

Have a look at the conservation areas near your vacation rental because you never know, you might find your new favorite spot on Cape Cod.

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