Black Cat Preserve, 80 Black Cat Rd, Plymouth, MA 02360, USA
Owned By: Town of Plymouth
This 63-acre woodland features pond views and 2.5 miles of often-challenging trails, plus two reclaimed cranberry bogs now returning to their natural state. Fishing access to Briggs Reservoir. Also in this area, check out Crawley Woodlands and Morton Park.
Long before the arrival of European colonists in Plymouth in 1620, the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans inhabited this area. This property was acquired by the Town of Plymouth in 2016. It was originally made up of multiple parcels with different owners, but these are now merged. A grant from the Department of Conservation and Recreation Trails funded the removal of water control structures on the bogs, as well as the construction of two wooden pedestrian footbridges.
Look for the small fishing dock on Briggs Reservoir, about a half mile up the trail.
From the parking lot, look for the trailhead at left. It extends around one side of a cranberry bog, crossing a small stream, and then makes a sharp turn left into the woods at 0.1 mile. Passing by the Briggs Reservoir, it continues up and down some hills along an esker ridge overlooking the water. This is a pretty spot! The trail can be narrow and steep at times, so proceed with caution.
At 0.4 miles or so, there is an intersection. You can turn right to begin the loop trail or continue straight. If you go straight, you’ll soon arrive at another intersection. Again, you can turn right to explore the loop trail, or continue straight for another 0.05 miles to a small dock on Briggs Reservoir, suitable for fishing.
Returning to the most recent intersection, turn left to follow the loop trail. There are lots of ups-and downs on this route, with some challenging hills. Please respect all Private Property signs. After another half mile or so, you will arrive at the next intersection. Turn left to explore the western side of the property on the Rear Bog Trail, or turn right to complete the loop and head back to your starting point.
If you choose to explore the western side of the property, the trail snakes down the other side of the ridge, past a vernal pool, and eventually connects with some former cranberry bogs. Follow the arrows to avoid stepping on private property. The trail continues around half of one bog and all of a second one (where you’ll find another wooden bridge). Although at this point (1.5 mile) you are geographically close to the parking area, there is no public access in between, so you will have to retrace your steps to complete the journey.
Habitats and Wildlife
The woods here are mostly oak and young white pine, along with some birch, maple, pitch pine, and a beautiful grove of beech on the ridge above the reservoir. The understory features fern, viburnum and sweet pepperbush.
There is a vernal pool on the southwest side of this property. About a mile inside the property, the trail snakes down a ridge into a kettle hole. Look for a wetland, especially in the springtime. It is a common breeding ground for amphibians. There are tree swallow/bluebird nesting boxes along the Rear Bog Trail.
The 17-acre Briggs Reservoir, at the center of this property, is part of the watershed of Town Brook. Waters within the Black Cat Preserve flow north toward the Billington Sea, the source of Town Brook. Town Brook flows for 1.5 miles through Plymouth and into Plymouth Harbor.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 63 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Limited on-site parking lot.
Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium
Bench, small fishing dock.
Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Town Brook watershed