Annual Walk, September 17, 2022

By Bill Iacuessa

The 14th annual Wellfleet Conservation Trust (WCT) walk was held on Saturday, September 11.  Due to COVID the walk was cancelled twice, so it was 3 years in the planning but well worth the wait.  Denny O’Connell, President of WCT, welcomed the walkers at the Long Pond parking lot.  Bill Iacuessa, organizer of the event, oriented the group to the unpaved roads and trails of the walk which are almost exclusively in the Cape Cod National Seashore. The highlights included Spectacle Pond, Kinnacum Pond and Gross Hill. As usual there were stops and speakers along the way.

Before heading off, Bill passed out photos of the ice house that existed along Long Pond in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Arriving at Spectacle Pond, John Portnoy, a scientist at the National Seashore for many years, spoke about the geology of Wellfleet ponds and Spectacle Pond in particular. Mary Rogers entertained the group about the quirky ways the names of streets and unpaved roads in town are changed. 

At Kinnacum Pond, David Wright explained the rich life of Dr. David Belding, who built the cottage on the pond.  The cottage is on private land and not normally accessible to the general public.   Dr. Belding was a shellfish biologist and medical doctor.  His work ushered in a century of purposeful aquaculture in Wellfleet, resulting in today’s robust and sustainable system of grants, licensing, propagation and management.

Along Isabell Way, near Gross Hill, Dwight Estey spoke about the lives of the famous Gross sisters, as they came to be known.  Copies of the daguerreotype of the sisters, made in 1851, were passed around.  When taken, the eldest was 85 and the youngest 57.  It would be the only time that the sisters were all together.

The final section of the walk, along a narrow trail, passed by a grove of Tupelos which are known for their beautiful fall foliage.  This grove is on high ground, an unusual site for this tree, which loves a moist, low-lying environment.  The trail also passed by an abandoned foundation whose story is now lost.   It was a perfect day weather wise and over 75 walkers enjoyed the trails and presentations.

Video of New Herring River Overlook Trail

A new video for the Herring River Overlook Conservation Land and Trail has just been released. As with our other videos, thanks go especially to Mary Doucette, advised by Mike Fisher.

The Herring River Overlook Conservation Land and Trail consists of 18+ acre uplands property with a 1 mile trail consisting mainly of a pine-oak woodland. The northwestern portion of the trail offers panoramic views of the Herring River, Griffin and Great Islands and Cape Cod Bay.

Length of Trail & Total Conservation Land Area: 1 miles; 18.3 acres

Area description: This beautiful 18.3 acre uplands property is a typical coastal heath that is succeeding to a pine-oak woodlands. It hosts about a 1 mile walking trail loop which starts and ends at the parking area. In the northwestern stretches, the ridge offers spectacular views of the Herring River, Griffin and Great Islands and into the Cape Cod Bay. Previously the land had been part of the surplus land holdings of the Chequessett Club, known for its golf, sailing and tennis activities. The Trustees of Chequessett Club had a strong preference to see the land in conservation and open to the public. This land has never been inhabited in modern times. Geologically, the land is an outwash plain, a remnant of the last glacial age of approximately 25,000 years ago. The land was graciously donated by Ms. Jacqualyn Fouse, a local resident, to the Wellfleet Conservation Trust in 2020.

Location: The trail head is at 1000 Chequessett Neck Road; GPS 41.92820° N, 70.06226° W

Directions: Exit Route 6 on Main Street; follow to the end of the commercial district; Left on Holbrook Ave; Right on Chequessett Neck Rd.; follow 1.9 miles.

WCT 14th Annual Walk

The Wellfleet Conservation Trust is planning its 14th annual guided walk to take place the morning of 11 September.  The walk will be in the area bounded by Gross Hill Road, Ocean View Drive, and Long Pond Road.  It will be almost exclusively on dirt roads and paths, about 2.4 miles in length with some moderate hills.  We will have short discussions/lectures at points of interest. The walk is FREE to participants and expected to take about 2.5 hours.  Walkers who have not received a Covid vaccination are asked to wear masks since social distancing will not always be possible.

This year, walkers are asked to register in order to participate.   Parking will be at a premium so we encourage carpooling when possible. 

If you wish to attend, please register by sending an email to
wct.annual.walk@gmail.com

Make the Subject:    Registering for WCT Annual Walk

In the Body list:     First and Last Name

Once you have registered, you will receive an email with details on time, parking, and a more detailed description of the walk.

The Annual WCT walk to resume this coming September

Plans have not yet been finalized, but WCT intends to offer the Annual Guided Walk in September.  The target date is Saturday, September 11, and the route will follow dirt roads and trails from Long Pond to Spectacle Pond and back. It should be about a two mile walk.  Timing and parking logistics need more planning, so you will need to follow our website and Facebook page for more details as they become available. 

Herring River Overlook work party

Our newest WCT conservation area, now dubbed Herring River Overlook (HRO), offers woodlands, wetlands, meadows, and incredible views of the Herring River estuary.

As the Herring River restoration project proceeds, these views will become even better. They’ll provide a tutorial on the restoration of the historic salt marsh, with its diverse flora and fauna.

Trustees and friends held a small work party on June 1 to complete the parking area for a trail through the HRO property, clear the trail, and add steps where needed. Fortunately, it was a sunny day with mild temperatures. The photos here give you some idea of the work involved and also what the finished trail will be.

MIke FIsher, Dave Koonce, and Denny O’Connell building a slit rail fence around the parking area
Mike and Dave digging post holes
Americorps worker, Mary Doucette and Barry Turnbull trimming a tree
Denny, Dave, and Mike measuring a post hole
Mike setting steps on a steep area at the start of the trail
Denny, Chip, Dave, and Mike after completing one section of fence

New Drummer Cove video

A new video for the Drummer Cove conservation area has just been released. Thanks go especially to Mary Doucette, advised by Mike Fisher.

The Drummer Cove area is remarkably varied for its 11+ acres. It is also unusual for offering a 1+ mile trail with easy access.

Length & Extent of Trail: 1.1 miles; 11.3 acres plus easements

Area description: The Drummer Cove Conservation Area includes salt marsh, tidal flats, coastal bank and oak pine forest on its upland. The entire area is within the recharge area to Drummer Cove and as such falls into the Wellfleet Harbor Area of Critical Environmental Concern. The land is in State designated Priority Habitat for rare species. The four benches provide great views of the Cove.

Location: The trail head is at 170 Pond Ave in South Wellfleet. 41.91415, -70.00165

Directions: Exit Route 6 heading west for approximately 0.5 miles on Paine Hollow Road to the first stop sign. Turn left on Pleasant Point Road for approximately 0.25 miles. Turn left on to Pond Ave for 0.3 miles, the last part being a dirt road to a parking area at the trail head.

New video for conservation areas

An analysis of the use of our WCT website shows that many visitors to the site are interested in exploring the conservation areas and trails. That’s especially the case in July and August.

Responding to that need, Mary Doucette, our Americorps worker, has produced a terrific video for the Fox Island and Pilgrim Spring area.

It’s now posted in our video showcase, which will eventually contain additonal WCT videos (currently just this one).

Virtual Herring River Race 5K

The Friends of Herring River (with special thanks to Patti Elliott) have organized the first annual Virtual Herring River 5K race for May 1 – 31, 2021. It’s to celebrate the planned restoration of the river.

The race is run virtually, with times to be reported on the honor system.

The race can be done in stages. At 5k (3.1 miles) you could race each of the 31 days of May for 0.1 miles (about 200 steps). Walking is one option.

Hard work with a big payoff: The Fox Island Marsh conservation area

Visitors and residents of Wellfleet enjoy the enticing walking trails in conservation areas established by the Wellfleet Conservation Trust. We have many people to thank for making these possible.

One of the most notable of these areas was developed in 2010. The Town, the State Fish and Game Department, and WCT created a 181-acre conservation area. It included Fox Island March, Pilgrim Spring Woodlands, and Whale Bone Point. Mark Robinson said at the time:

[It is] the largest publicly-accessible conservation area outside of the National Seashore on the Lower Cape…. Almost two miles of public trails have been established, viewing benches installed and parking defined. More importantly, the recurring partnership between the town and WCT on land deal has enabled us to work closely on other open space projects throughout Wellfleet.

Mark H. Robinson, WCT Newsletter, Fall 2010

Mark’s complete article in that newsletter describes the complicated process to acquire such a beautiful property. It includes a map of the area and the trails, as well as several photos.