Long Walks on Cape Cod
Copyright 1998 Cape Cod Trails Conference
Nickerson State Park
USGS Map: Harwich, Orleans (partial)
1. Parking lot west of entrance to park, off
Route 6A in Brewster.
2. End of Flax Pond Road. Drive in main
road, take first left, follow to end.
3. Fishermen's Landing on Cliff Pond. Drive
on main road approximately 1.6 miles, left
on dirt road at sign.
DCR Map of Nickerson Park
Nickerson State Park can be hiked in fall, winter, and
spring, but not in the summer. Hordes are encamped in the park
during the summer, and the poison ivy covers the trails.
Hiking trails are marked around Cliff Pond and Flax Pond,
using the blue triangles. The markings are reliable, if that's
what you want to do. You will also notice cross-country ski
markers, and occasionally see red horse trail markers.
Beginning at the main entrance parking lot (001), walk southeast
through the little woods, cross over the main road, then pick up
the bike trail on the other side. Follow it to the utility right
of way (002). Then walk east along the woods on the south side of the
right of way.
In about 0.2 mile, you will walk around a pit. Immediately
after, a hiking trail is visible heading southeast into the woods (003).
It's a pretty walk through tall trees and over a steep hill (004-005).
At the bottom of the hill, a woods road cuts in (006). You can't go any
further, anyway; a swamp lies ahead.
Walk northeast on the woods road to a triangle of paths (007).
Curve around to the right, walking uphill until the second intersecting
path goes off the right. Actually, either one will do, but the
second path is more visible. If you continue uphill, you will
wind up in the Robinwood housing development.
Continue until you intersect the telephone right of way (008).
Follow it until you reach a foot path on the left (009). Walk south
briefly to another woods road (010). Walk southeast on it to a parking
lot near the shore of Cliff Pond (011). Look for a foot path heading
east along the north shore of Little Cliff Pond (015). Continue to cross
a wide dirt road between Little Cliff Pond and Higgins Pond, just above a
gate (016). Note: (012-014) have been deleted. The walk through "Fox Den" is now blocked by building lots.
Look for a footpath heading east along the north shore of Higgins
Pond. Ignore the side trails until you get to a point near the east shore
of the pond. Then continue due east on the wide footpath away from
the pond. You will reach another wide dirt road, in another 0.2 mile.
(017). Walk south on it as it leads you around Higgins Pond (018-019).
The road ends just west of Eel Pond, which is itself just below Higgins
Pond. It is also possible to explore paths to Higgins Pond, and walk
along it until you reach the woods road, but for that you are on your own.
At the T intersection, you could go left, reach the southern
perimeter of the park, and follow the bike path to the west. We
suggest walking north for 0.1 mile to pick up another woods road
to the west (020). This one takes you to Little Cliff Pond, crossing a
paved camping entrance road on the way.
At Little Cliff Pond, choose either shore to follow the trail markers
north to Cliff Pond (021-024). At Cliff Pond, you can walk north past
the boat landing to trailhead 2 above. You can then return to trailhead
1 directly by walking west on the Cliff Pond Trail around the north shore
for 0.3 mile to the picnic grove described below.
Or to continue the long walk, head south around Cliff Pond,
following the trail markers (025-029). In about 0.8 mile, you will be
walking along the shore of Cliff Pond above a marsh which used
to be Grassy Nook Pond. This is an excellent spot for lunch.
You can continue around Cliff Pond following the trail markers,
or take a scenic detour. If you go south just past Grassy Nook (030),
you will walk a paved road for a bit to reach the bike path at the
southern perimeter of the park (031)..
Walk west on the dirt path that parallels the paved path, to avoid
preventing a hazard to bikers (032). Follow the sign to Ruth Pond, at
0.4 mile (033). Make a sharp turn to the right on the bike path at
another 0.5 mile, reaching the pond at another 0.2 mile (034). Walk
down to the shore on the side path. It is an unspoiled, wild environment.
Circle Ruth Pond and continue northeast through the pine grove
planted by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the '30s (035). When you
get to Nook Road (paved, two-lane) (036), look for the sign to Fishermen's
Landing across the road. Walk east 0.1 mile to the shore of Cliff
Pond (037). You are now at trailhead 3, 2.4 miles from trailhead 2.
Now hike north around the shore of Cliff Pond. You may need to
dogleg around the shore at 0.2 mile (038). At 0.6 mile, you pass a little
side pond on the left (039). Trailhead 2 is 0.4 mile ahead around the pond.
Turn north through a picnic grove and follow the path up the hill and
over to Flax Pond, which will be directly north (040).
Walk around the west shore of Flax Pond and walk uphill to the
camping area above the north shore (041-042). A telephone right of
way goes off to the left. Follow it directly west to the main
road, cross over (043), and pick up the bike trail heading west.
Walk the bike trail west for 0.2 mile until a cross-country
skiing marker appears on your right, marking a dirt path. Follow
it north about 0.4 mile to the entrance parking lot. If you happen
to reach the Cape Cod Rail Trail, you've gone a bit too far. But
just walk to the right, then right again immediately.
Altogether, this has been a ten mile hike, avoiding the paved
paths as much as possible. Nickerson Park is spectacular in the
fall, when the trees have colored foliage, and only an occasional
fisherman shares the solitude with you.
In the winter, a rare but occasional snowfall will cover the
bike paths sufficiently to make long runs possible on your skis.
Spring on Cape Cod is merely a milder extension of winter, but
you can see much more through the trees. No wonder that
Nickerson is the jewel of the state parks!