Information provided by the Orleans Conservation Trust
Welcome to the Trails of Orleans
For more than 40 years the Town of Orleans and the Orleans Conservation Trust (OCT) have worked collaboratively to preserve open space and natural resources throughout the Town. This Trail Guide is a symbol of that cooperation. The conserved lands traversed by these trails not only constitute valuable wildlife habitat and protect our water quality, but they also provide Orleans residents and visitors with recreational opportunities, including hiking, walking, birdwatching, nature study, photography, and kayaking.
This guide describes 12 properties and many miles of public trails within Orleans. When available, information on the property’s natural and cultural history is included. We have done our best to provide accurate information and maps, and we hope you find this guide helpful in exploring our open space.
These trails will take you through many of the diverse landscapes found across Town, including forested woodlands, meadows, saltwater marshes, bogs, beaches, and freshwater ponds.
You are invited to enjoy these foot trails quietly; we ask that you help us maintain the natural beauty of the land and protect the wildlife that depends upon it. Please observe the following guidelines:
- Use designated parking areas
- Stay on marked trails and respect the rights of adjacent property owners
- Do not pick plants or disturb wildlife
- Carry out what you carry in
- Guard against all risk of fire
- Pick up dog waste and dispose of it off the property (mutt mitts may be provided at some locations)
- Enjoy and share the landscape with others
No matter the season, be mindful of poison ivy and always check for ticks after each walk.
ABOUT THE ORLEANS CONSERVATION TRUST
The Orleans Conservation Trust (OCT) is a nonprofit membership organization that preserves and enhances natural areas and resources in Orleans for the use and benefit of the community. OCT works to preserve natural habitats in Orleans; ensure the survival of native plants and animals, and promote public appreciation and responsibility for the environment through education. Since its founding in 1970, OCT has preserved more than 650 acres in Orleans through deeded gifts, conservation restrictions, and purchases.
While the Trust and the Town collaborate on projects of joint interest, such as this Trail Guide, the Trust is not affiliated with Town government. In fact, as a nonprofit, the Trust is completely dependent upon the generosity of Orleans community members and other private citizens. We have hundreds of members that support our mission, enabling us to continue to preserve lands, neighborhoods, and local character. Join us.
For more information about the Orleans Conservation Trust or to become a member, visit our website at www.orleansconservationtrust.org.
Contributions of any amount can be sent to: Orleans Conservation Trust, P.O. Box 1078, East Orleans, MA 02643
ORLEANS CONSERVATION TRUST
- Established in 1970, OCT is the second-oldest land trust on Cape Cod.
- The first gift to OCT was donated by the Nickerson family, a 7-acre section of the Pochet marsh, abutting today’s Sparrowhawk Landing in East Orleans.
- OCT’s first purchase came in 1992 when the Trust acquired Little Sipson Island in Pleasant Bay for $150,000. OCT also owns Hopkins Island in Town Cove, which was donated to the Trust in 1974.
- The largest parcel owned by OCT was donated by Margaret “Granny” Cochran in 1973; it comprises nearly 59 acres of pristine pine–oak woodland in South Orleans.
- OCT has accepted 110 gifts of land and 35 private Conservation Restrictions, and has successfully purchased 10 properties.
- 92% of OCT’s land holdings have come in the form of gifts.
In 1992, Charles F. Moore Sr. began buying land between Tonset Road and Hopkins Lane, eventually owning 27 acres with significant frontage on Ice House Pond. In 1973, just three years after the Trust was founded, the Moore family donated the first of three parcels of land totaling 17 acres. Around the same time, the Wilber and Hopkins family donated an additional 7 acres, amassing a total of 24 acres of conservation land to be preserved for all time. Today this 1.5-mile-long trail winds through pine and oak woodlands with access to both Ice House and Reuben’s Ponds. While the trail is primarily flat, hikers will find two steep hills leading to the edge Ice House and Reuben’s Pond. Ice House is recognized as one of the cleanest ponds in town and is a hot spot for ice skating in the winter. Trail parking can be found on Tonset and Captain Curtis Roads about a mile and half from the intersection of Beach Road and Tonset Road.
In 1993 and 1994, Peter and Ruth Fleck generously gifted two parcels of land totaling 23 acres north and east of Twinings Pond in South Orleans. When Peter and Ruth passed away, the three Fleck daughters inherited the remaining family land (6 acres) south of Twinings Pond. Knowing they never wanted to see this land developed, between 2009 and 2013 the sisters worked with OCT and the Town to sell or place Conservation Restrictions on the last remaining, highly developable lots on Twinings Pond for well below fair market value. Twinings Pond has excellent water quality, and otters have occasionally been spotted swimming along its banks. When walking the 1-mile trail visitors will traverse rolling hills containing a few steep sections.
Orin Tovrov, one of the original founders and first president of the Orleans Conservation Trust, placed a Conservation Restriction over this land in northern Orleans in 1975, among the first of its kind for OCT. After Orin’s passing, his children donated the land outright to the Trust in 1996. The preserve is made up of 13 acres, with a 1-mile trail stretching from Champlain Road to the shores of Mill Pond. Due to the steep windiness of the trail, hikers are encouraged to wear sturdy shoes. Just a few of the unique features found on site are historic stone walls, a vernal pool, and a coastal plain pond that is a prime spot for observing migrating waterfowl, including wood ducks.
The White’s Lane Conservation Area is composed of four separate gifts of land, made between 1982 and 1996. The largest single gift, donated in 1989 by George and Louise White, contained more than 8 acres of land and 1,000 feet of frontage on the River just south of the River Road Town Landing. In 2009, OCT received a $100,000 State grant to restore the property to a field habitat, while also creating nesting gardens for the threatened diamond-backed terrapin. The restoration project was a success, and in 2014 volunteers documented the birth of nearly 60 terrapin hatchlings on the site. Volunteers have also recorded numerous hawk species, box turtles, and songbirds. Visitors will find the trail system to be a short leisurely walk.
The Meadow Bog Pond Conservation Area in South Orleans comprises two acquisitions: a 1993 gift by Rachia Heyelman of 1.8 acres and a joint purchase of 6.6 acres in 2006 by OCT and the Town of Orleans, using Community Preservation Act funds. This land serves as a crucial wildlife corridor, linking 115 acres of protected land while simultaneously protecting the shores and water quality of two freshwater ponds: Sarah’s and Meadow Bog Ponds. It is valuable habitat for rare plants and animals, such as the sharp-shinned hawk, Eastern box turtle, and pink lady’s slipper. This trail is just under 1-mile in length and contains a number of steep hills.
In 1988, the Orleans Conservation Trust acquired the Woods Cove Conservation Area located just before the Tonset Road Town landing in north Orleans. The existing trail is less than 1-mile in length and is made up of rolling hills. The parcel consists of 11.6 acres of upland forest, wetland, and salt-marsh ecosystems. The property is extremely important for wildlife habitat, wildlife corridors, coastal resources, and scenic value. The wealth of habitats within this area host diverse plant species, and enable animals to migrate through these lands. The most important feature of Woods Cove, however, is its vernal pools, which are ideal breeding grounds for many amphibian species such as the wood frog and red-backed salamander, both of which have been observed on site.
The Town acquired the Kent’s Point Conservation Area in 1988 after years of planning to preserve this land. The property was subject to a life-estate retained by the seller, Miss Charlotte Kent, who lived to be 100 years old. Her house was removed from the site after her death in 1997. Public access to the Kent’s Point Conservation Area from Monument Road is via the unpaved Frost Fish Lane.
This land contains more than a mile of undeveloped shoreline fronting on Lonnie’s Pond, Little Pleasant Bay, and Frost Fish Creek. The main trail to the former Kent house site, which is less than a mile in length, goes up the center of the property, leading to a handicapped-accessible boardwalk overlooking the River and the northern end of Pleasant Bay. More than 30 great blue herons have been seen in Frost Fish cove at any given time.
Between 2002 and 2007, the Town of Orleans acquired three contiguous parcels totaling 46 acres of woodland bounded by John Kenrick Road, Route 28, and Namequoit Road for conservation and recreation in South Orleans. These parcels are collectively known as the John Kenrick Woods Conservation Area, an integral part of an extensive greenbelt covering more than 600 acres on the lower Cape. The area is part of the watershed contributing to Areys Pond, which connects to Pleasant Bay. The original South Orleans General Store was located on the Kenrick farmstead. While the majority of the existing 1-mile long trail is flat, hikers will find a few steep trail sections.
This parcel is best described as a white pine–oak forest with white pines predominating. The tall, straight lumber from Kenrick Woods was coveted for flagpoles as well as spars and planks for sailing vessels of the 1800s. Interestingly, more than 75 American chestnuts can also be found on site. According to the American Chestnut Foundation, this is the only location in Massachusetts where chestnuts are reproducing.
The Town of Orleans in 1988 acquired several parcels, formerly part of the Corrigan property, for conservation, open space, and recreation off Baker’s Pond Road along the western boundary of Town. The property comprises two parcels totaling 16.5 acres with Baker’s Pond to the north. The Baker’s Pond Conservation Area is part of a contiguous natural area that extends from Nickerson State Park in Brewster across Route 6 to the watershed in Orleans. Baker’s Pond is a classic coastal-plain kettle pond with a wide sandy shoreline, which is inundated seasonally when the water table is high. This wide beach supports a substantial and unique plant community, including the rare spatulate-leaved sundew and Plymouth gentian. The short half mile long trail is a leisurely walk.
The Marion Hadley and Samuel Watson Peck Conservation Area consists of two large residential lots, purchased in 2006 by the Town of Orleans to preserve all of the high hill overlooking the entrance to Areys Pond, an active small-craft boatyard and mooring area in South Orleans. The 8.2-acre property fringing the hill falls within a State-designated Area of Critical Environmental Concern and has been known to attract otters. The last Indian meetinghouse in Orleans was located on the slopes of this hill. The trail is less than 1-mile in length and traverses a single rolling hill.
The Town of Orleans acquired the 7.85-acre Christian Conservation Area in South Orleans in 1999 for environmental preservation. In 2000, the Town acquired the abutting 8.9-acre white cedar swamp to provide a wildlife corridor and additional natural habitat. This parcel also abuts the Orleans Conservation Trust’s 4-acre Seikel gift, which was donated to the OCT in 1991 for conservation. The Christian Property was a priority acquisition for its close proximity to Pleasant Bay and its unique Atlantic white cedar swamp located within the property. Hessel’s hairstreak butterfly and the saw-whet owl are native to these swamps, respectively feeding or nesting on the Atlantic white cedars. The trail is less than 1-mile in length and considered by most to be an easy walk.
The Town of Orleans bought this property in South Orleans in 1987 to prevent the development of a 7-lot subdivision as an investment by the Environmental Minister of the Sultanate of Oman! The conservation area comprises a 9.3-acre parcel of upland and beach on Little Pleasant Bay and a 2.3-acre salt marsh on Paw Wah Pond, an 8-acre salt pond. The upland part of the property features a mixed-forest community of pitch pine, white pine, and black and white oak, while the marshland is dominated by a variety of Spartina grasses. Both of these ecosystems play important roles in maintaining habitat diversity, and when combined they provide habitat for the recovering osprey and the Spartina borer. The trail is less than 1-mile in length and contains a number of small rolling hills.