Making the Most Out of Nickerson State Park

By Kimberly Ripley

Making the Most Out of Nickerson State Park

When it comes to rustic charm and beauty, nothing beats New England. Specifically, nothing beats Massachusetts. As far as diverse natural wonders go, the Bay State offers just about everything you could dream about. From its incredible seashores to its fairytale-like wooded areas, it’s easy for an outdoor lover to fall in love in Massachusetts. Start your journey with Nickerson State Park and all of the scenic marvels it has to offer. 

1. Nickerson State Park

Nickerson State Park is located on Cape Cod, and affords visitors a part of the Cape they might not have expected. When you think of Cape Cod, images of the ocean—and maybe even the sand dunes—cross your mind. But did you know Cape Cod is also known for some stunning freshwater spots as well? Nickerson State Park is home to eight such ponds. Bring your tent or RV to the state park, or rent one of the yurts they have on site. Regardless of your plans for sleeping, get ready to spend the night in one of the Cape’s natural wonders.

2. Nickerson State Park Trails

Several miles of hiking trails will lead you through some of the park’s 1,900 acres. A five-mile loop, rated “moderate” by most hikers, will take you through the woods and past some ponds. If it strikes you as unusual that no streams or rivers feed into these ponds, that’s because it is. Called kettle ponds, they were formed by glaciers more than 10,000 years-ago, and are dependent solely upon groundwater and precipitation to keep them filled. Some of these ponds are stocked with trout year-round, so be sure to bring your fishing poles and some bait. Check with the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife before you go to determine from which ponds you may keep your fish, and which are catch and release only. As you’re hiking, be sure to follow the trail to Grassy Knob. It’s the highest point within Nickerson State Park, and affords scenic views of this facet of the Cape Cod region. If you’ve brought along your mountain bikes, a 20-mile trail intersects with the Cape Cod Rail Trail, which will take you just about any place you want to go along the Cape.

3. Nickerson State Park Campsites

There are over 400 campsites available within this park. You will find group camping areas, tent campsites, standard non-electric sites, and several yurts. Be sure to check online to reserve your spot! Following your night spent in Nickerson State Park, you really must take in a few more things that make Brewster, Massachusetts, such a special place. One such thing is the Brewster Flats. Each day at low tide, the Brewster Flats become evident, revealing sandbars, clam flats, and tidal pools. Check out the Brewster Flats by visiting Breakwater Beach. No matter the season, you’ll find plenty to explore.

4. Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, Brewster, MA

The Cape Cod Museum of Natural History is located in Brewster, and is well worth a stop when you leave the beach. Their exhibits and displays will fit in well with your state park and beach visits, as they’ll show in intensely detailed tidbits about locations you likely didn’t know. Children will enjoy the hands-on activities.

5. Ruggie’s Breakfast and Lunch, Harwich, MA

Be sure to leave the museum in time to enjoy lunch in nearby Harwich. Ruggie’s Breakfast and Lunch is open year-round and serves up some delicious offerings like waffles, burgers, and the best fried chicken on Cape Cod.

6. Schoolhouse Ice Cream, Harwich Port, MA

Save room for dessert and visit Schoolhouse Ice Cream in nearby Harwich Port. Featuring homemade ice cream year-round, this is the perfect way to cap off your state park adventure.

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