The Beach Times

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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