In My Footsteps
Trip 15: Nickerson State Park, Brewster, Mass.
January 28, 2010
Worthy of its own article and worthy of more than one trip on its grounds Nickerson State Park in Brewster is in my opinion one of the crown jewels of hiking and natural beauty on Cape Cod. Located on Route 6A just a short drive from Exit 12 off of the Mid-Cape highway, Nickerson is a huge attraction for locals and visitors alike. It is a prime area for freshwater swimming and camping as well as hiking and bicycling. I have been coming here for more than twenty years and with each visit I find something new and exciting in my travels.
Set on 1,900 acres of prime land, Nickerson houses many kettle ponds formed by glaciers over 10,000 years ago. The campsites offer breathtaking views and the sweet scents of the pine forest that no words can describe. The park bears the name Roland J. Nickerson in honor of the multimillionaire who owned the land in the late 19th century. His mansion is now the Ocean Edge Resort and Club in Brewster.
There are times during a hike around Big Cliff Pond(right), or as you ride through the eight miles of bike trails that you may actually feel as though you are in the middle of nowhere. However, there is actually a trail located at the far end of Nook Road that comes within a few hundred feet of the highway.
The first place to visit upon entering the park is Flax Pond(left). Located on the first left after entering Flax Pond is, along with Big Cliff Pond, the most popular places for families to come and enjoy themselves. Since none of these kettle ponds have streams or rivers to feed them water their level can fluctuate year to year. Flax Pond has canoes for rent a short walk from the main entrance and with no current the water is very safe and easy to navigate for paddler and swimmer alike.
At the end of Flax Pond Road you will find Big and Little Cliff Pond. At their closest the two kettles are separated by about seventy-five feet but they never do connect. Canoeing is also available here and there are boat ramps available for people coming with their own water transportation. Up on a hill, a short walk up a lot of steps, brings you to a picnic area with an amazing aerial view of Big Cliff Pond. In summer when the picnic area would be used the view is quite obscured by the green plants and trees, but on this trip in the dead of winter you could see all the way around the periphery of the pond. There are cabins for camping at the top of the hill as well and just about any parking area along the whole of Nickerson can be made into an impressive hike. As much as I am mentioning great places to see at Nickerson State Park there really is no bad spot to choose. It is just as much fun to point yourself in one direction and just go.
Further along down Nook Rd. there is a popular fishing spot on Big Cliff Pond. There is a small dirt parking area located amongst the trees. The roads at Nickerson although they have names are really just one long road that carries you from the entrance at Rt. 6A to the dead end near the highway. Flax Pond Rd. is one side road to check out as is Nan-Ke-Rafe Path which is dirt and leads to Rafe Pond.
Camp Nan-Ke-Rafe, located on the grounds is a seventeen acre campground run by Dream Day On Cape Cod who runs camps in summer in support of special needs children and their families. The grounds can be walked at any time of year. There is a parking area right before the entrance to Nickerson for those wishing to bike ride through the park. Barb’s Bike Shop has a location there and has a great selection of bikes and rental prices that won’t hurt your wallet.
Also it would not be a proper day out at Nickerson during the summer without stopping at Cobies, a popular restaurant located just before you reach Nickerson. It has a great atmosphere with outside picnic tables and has been serving great fried food since 1948. A visit here can be the perfect end or beginning to your day, I know it has been for me many times!
Nickerson State Park is a perfect spot for a picnic, for a family outing, or to just take some time to enjoy the sights, sounds, and scents of untouched nature. This wonderful escape can be enjoyed at any time of year and is a great change of pace from the crowded beaches. Make it a point to visit Nickerson, no matter what route you choose you will find some amazing scenery. Have fun and happy traveling!
Directions: From the highway, take exit 12. Head west on Rt. 6A for 1.7 miles, Nickerson is on the left. Barb’s Bike Shop is next left following Nickerson entrance. Cobies is 1,000 feet up on the left.
References: Dream Day On Cape Cod