480 Mayflower St, Duxbury, MA 02332, USA
Owned By: Town of Duxbury
This 232-acre property, which includes the David Cutler Forest, features a kettle hole pond surrounded by pine and oak forest. There are 3 miles of intersecting trails, including a section of the Bay Circuit Trail. Much of the property is suitable for horseback riding.
Round Pond is much more than just a pond. The property’s namesake – a 18,000-year old kettle hole — lies at its center. Pine and oak woods surround the pond, and contain a number of intersecting, well-marked trails, some of which traverse wetlands via boardwalk. There are other surface waters nearby too – active cranberry bogs and reservoirs, other ponds, and even a small lake. The Round Pond Conservation Area also includes the David Cutler Forest, named for the conservationist and owner/editor of the Duxbury Clipper, a local newspaper.
Prior to European contact, the Mattakeeset band of the Massachuseuk (or Massachusett) Native American tribe lived for thousands of years in the North River watershed. Their village included most of today’s Pembroke and Hanson. Meanwhile the Patuxet band of the Wampanoag tribe inhabited the Jones River watershed, and the area now known as Kingston, Plymouth and Duxbury. This property lies within the upper portion of the South River watershed — right between those two territories. It’s possible that both tribes utilized the area.
In the 1880s, Round Pond was known as Cole’s Pond, and was the site of the Merry Family’s ice house. During the winter, ice from the pond was cut into blocks and stored nearby, with sawdust for insulation. Amazingly, this kept the ice intact into the spring and summer, when it was delivered to private homes. The ice operation continued into the 1940s, after which refrigerators rendered it obsolete.
The property’s “icy” history goes much farther back, though. Kettle hole ponds are formed by melting glaciers, and this one dates back to about 10,000 BCE. Natural ponds such as this are unusual in our area. Most of the South Shore’s ponds were formed as a result of the industrial damming of our rivers, first to run saw and grist mills . . . and then (later) for factories.
As far back as the 1890s, the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society (DRHS) began protecting and preserving the area around the pond, purchasing a total of almost 50 acres to use for carriage rides and as a picnic area. The current trails were opened decades later, in 1986, the result of a joint effort by the Rural and Historical Society and Mass Audubon, which maintains the adjacent wildlife sanctuary at North Hill Marsh. Today, the DRHS holdings are partnered with those owned by the Town of Duxbury, creating more than 170 acres of conservation land between Round Pond, Pine Lake, and Island Creek Pond.
Round Pond features an extensive network of color-blazed, intersecting trails. Some lead through the woods, others encircle cranberry bogs. Many are wide enough to accommodate two or more people. This is a popular place for dog walkers. Download a property map to help you find your way around.
A portion of the Bay Circuit Trail runs through this property. It is marked with white blazes. Another conservation area, known as the Cherry Lane Bogs, directly abuts the Round Pond Conservation Area. Across Mayflower Street is an even larger greenspace, comprised of the Knapp Town Forest, North Hill Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, and Waiting Hill Preserve.
Habitats and Wildlife
Round Pond is a kettle pond — a shallow, sediment-filled body of fresh water formed by retreating glaciers or draining floodwaters. It is also one of the sources of the South River.
The South River originates deep in Duxbury, and winds unobtrusively through the woods for several miles. Although one can view it from Route 3, and also from both the South River Bog and the Camp Wing Conservation Area, it remains a narrow and mostly un-navigable stream until just below Veterans Memorial Park. From there it flows through South River Park, behind the playground of South River School, and under the Willow Street and Francis Keville Bridges. Wider at that point, and navigable at most tides, its course winds through the marshes as it runs parallel to Route 139, all the way to Rexhame. From there the river turns northward. It flows for 3 miles between Humarock and the mainland to Fourth Cliff, where it joins the North River at its outlet to the sea.
Island Creek Pond, which is situated at the southwest portion of the Round Pond property is an entirely different watershed. Island Creek flows through it, and continues south through Duxbury to Kingston Bay.
This property is diverse. The upland forest is composed primarily of white pine and red oak, with an ample understory of blueberry, fern, and teaberry. In mid-spring, look for lady slippers. The wetland portions of the property are primarily red maple swamp, with alder, sagebrush, and native azalea. The cranberry bogs provide even more variety, attracting wildlife and helping to maintain the town’s water supply.
Wildlife commonly found here include white-tailed deer, fox, raccoons and opossums. Look for birds such as osprey, red-tailed hawks, egrets, and great blue herons, plus chickadees, tufted titmice, bluebirds, cardinals and cedar waxwings.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 170 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Limited on-site parking on Mayflower Street. Pedestrian access from East Street and Cherry Lane.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Occasional benches and boardwalks, informational kiosk. Geocache location.
Dogs: Dogs are welcome, but must remain under control at all times. Please clean up after your dog.
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: South River watershed and Island Creek watershed