951 Ship Pond Rd, Plymouth, MA 02360, USA
Owned By: Wildlands Trust
This large wooded property features a 3-mile loop trail with rolling hills. Another prime attraction is a clearing with a cluster of benches and picnic tables in the shade of a giant beech tree. Part of the Davis-Douglas Conservation Area. Other related properties nearby include: Emery Preserve East, Six Ponds East Conservation Area, and Davis-Douglas Farm, along with conservation land in Plymouth.
According to the website of the Wildlands Trust, this part of Plymouth was protected thanks in large part to the local Six Ponds Community.
In 1973, the preserves known as Emery East and Emery West were donated to the Wildlands Trust by Mary B. Emery, Arthur H. Emery, Edward S. Emery, III, Richard B. Emery, Mary Charlotte (Emery) Russell, H. Shippen, and Lydia Goodhue. These were the first-ever lands protected by the Wildlands Trust. Then, in 2001, Six Ponds East Preserve was acquired. In 2010, the Town of Plymouth acquired a parcel of land in between Six Ponds East Preserve and Emery West Preserve with the assistance of Wildlands Trust. And then in 2012, the Wildlands Trust purchased Davis-Douglas Farm, with funding from public and private sources. It became the organization’s headquarters in 2014.
Long before European settlers arrived in 1620, this land was part of Pokanoket, a Wampanoag village governed by Massasoit.
There are three access points to the 3-mile loop trail. You can begin at the property’s parking area on Ship Pond Road, or at the trailhead on Long Pond Road across from Davis-Douglas Farm, or via the Six Ponds East Conservation Area. All 3 offer relatively quick access to the loop, which is quite hilly in places. The trail has a few rooty spots, but it is well-marked, well-maintained, and user-friendly. The red blazes signify the loop, while the green blazes mark the trail that extends across Plymouth conservation land between the property’s two entrances on Ship Pond Road and Long Pond Road.
Also don’t miss the 0.15-mile Beech Tree Trail, which begins across the street from the Ship Pond Road parking area. At the end, you’ll find a giant beech tree surrounded with benches and picnic tables. A truly enchanting spot, especially in autumn when the leaves are turning!
Habitats and Wildlife
Several different forest types are represented here among the rolling hills and dry kettle holes. The northern section is predominantly scrub oak and pitch pine. Look for sand soil under the leaf litter. In the middle section, the trees are more mature oaks and pines, along with the occasional birch. The southern section is mostly white pine. Look low to the ground for lady slippers and starflowers, as well as an outcropping of quartz along the trail. According to the Wildlands Trust, avian species often observed here include great horned owl, black-capped chickadees, prairie warblers, rufous-sided towhees, common yellowthroats, hermit thrushes, and ovenbirds.
Interpretive signage at Davis-Douglas Farm nearby offers fascinating detail about this property’s geography. It is situated on an outwash plain — thick layers of sand and gravel deposited by retreating glaciers 14,000 years ago. Kettle ponds, esker ridges, and kames (steep-sided mounds of sand and gravel) — common characteristic features of outwash plains — are all present here. The soil is sandy, acidic, and well-drained, which is why Pine Barrens have flourished here. The streams here flow east and empty into the Atlantic Ocean near Ship Pond.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 142 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Limited on-site parking area at Ship Pond Road entrance. Additional parking at Davis-Douglas Farm and Six Ponds East Conservation Area.
Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium
Benches, informational kiosks. Geocache location.
Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Cape Cod Bay watershed