In the heart of the Mattapoisett River Valley lies an unexpected oasis of forests and freshwater wetlands called the Mattapoisett River Reserve. With 300 acres to explore, the Reserve offers the public a unique (and free) outdoor destination for hiking, birdwatching, mountain biking and even fishing and hunting, just minutes from Interstate 195.
A Community Connected by Water
You might be wondering—what does a place 5 miles from salt water have to do with Buzzards Bay? The answer is both simple and complex.
It’s important to protect clean water in all communities in the Buzzards Bay region, according to Rob Hancock of the Buzzards Bay Coalition, which owns most of the property in the Reserve. That means protecting marine waters along the coast, as well as upstream areas like the Mattapoisett River Reserve. By keeping local streams, wetlands, and groundwater healthy, the fresh water that flows into Buzzards Bay will be cleaner.
Keeping this water clean is not just important for fishing, boating, and swimming. The Mattapoisett River Valley is home to the aquifer that supplies clean drinking water to residents of Fairhaven, Marion, Mattapoisett, and Rochester. So the Mattapoisett River Reserve protects the water that we drink and also gives us a great place to enjoy the outdoors.
Explore a Cranberry Bog
When you enter the Mattapoisett River Reserve at The Bogs, one of two public entrances located along Acushnet Road, you quickly see how the property got its name. A sweeping view of cranberry bogs stretches for 50 acres. Trails crisscross the bogs, leading visitors deeper into the Reserve.
These bogs were actively managed and harvested for 80 years, until the Coalition purchased the property in 2011. Although the bogs are now retired from commercial production, cranberries still grow in a few patches. Over time, these bogs will be restored to natural habitat as they slowly revert back into wetlands.
Don’t Fear the Swamp
At the back edge of the reserve lies a freshwater swamp teeming with wildlife. Colorful wildflowers grow along the edge of the swamp in summer, and turtles laze on logs. You’ll see lots of different types of birds, from osprey soaring high above your head to great blue herons silently stalking their prey in the shadows. Waterfowl like mallards, black ducks, and wood ducks paddle past, dabbling for food in the rich shallow water.
Hike or Bike
The Mattapoisett River Reserve is an excellent destination for hiking and walking. The trails are wide and fairly even, giving mountain bikers a safe place to ride. Dogs are welcome at the reserve, says Hancock, as long as owners keep them under control and clean up after them.
The reserve’s trail network leads through the cranberry bogs and past the swamp into a forest of tall pines. As you walk through the woods, you can listen to the sound of birds and water flowing down Tripps Mill Brook, a tributary of the Mattapoisett River. If you’re lucky (and quiet!), you may catch sight of a deer or a flock of wild turkeys.
Another fun activity at the Mattapoisett River Reserve is geocaching, which is like a treasure hunt where you use a GPS device to track down hidden outdoor caches. The reserve is home to two caches, giving visitors a new way to explore the trails.
Cast a Line in Tinkham Pond
At the northern edge of the Mattapoisett River Reserve lies Tinkham Pond, a freshwater pond that feeds into Tripps Mill Brook. The reserve hugs the southern shore of Tinkham Pond, offering an access point for visitors to go fishing for bass, sunfish, yellow perch and other freshwater species.
With a convenient parking area across the street on Acushnet Road, Tripps Mill is an excellent place cast a line or enjoy afternoon picnic along the water. You’ll also find a trailhead here, where you can head south through the woods toward The Bogs.
The Mattapoisett River Reserve is so close to home, it’s a place you’ll want to visit yourself soon. For more information about the Reserve and other places to get outside around the Buzzards Bay region, visit www.savebuzzardsbay.org.