Deep in South Orleans lie a series of lovely kettle ponds of which the oblong-shaped Twining’s is the largest. Private homes in the Quanset Harbor Club occupy part of its shoreline, but much is accessible via trails that loop through conserved land. Walkers enjoy a varied woodland landscape with elevated pond views and great birdlife—songbirds, waterfowl, and raptors. The trails meander up- and downslope, with a few steep sections. To protect the pond and your safety, please stay on marked paths, chosen to provide safe inclines and declines (not necessarily the most direct route to the pond). Directional signs and OCT tags affixed to trees will help you find the way. Happy walking!
Held by: OCT, with a parcel of Town-owned land at the northwest end of the pond.
Location: 135 Quanset Road, South Orleans
Trail length: about 1 mile
Year acquired: 1993–2013
From the intersection of MA Route 28 and Main Street in Orleans, follow Route 28 toward Chatham, 2.5 miles. Turn left onto Quanset Road and bear right at the fork to stay on Quanset. Continue .9 mi to the trailhead on right, just beyond Forest Way. There are four or five designated parking spaces at the main trailhead and another one or two spots at a trailhead just up the road on the right.
This beautiful resource is protected thanks to the vision of Peter and Ruth Fleck and their children. In 1993 and 1994, Peter and Ruth generously gifted to OCT two parcels of land totaling 23 acres north and east of Twining’s Pond. When Peter and Ruth passed away, their three daughters inherited the remaining family land (6 acres) south of the pond. Knowing they never wanted to see this land developed, between 2009 and 2013 the sisters worked with OCT and the town to sell (for well below fair market value) or place conservation restrictions on the last remaining, highly developable lots on the pond.
Twining’s Pond has excellent water quality, and otters have been spotted swimming along its banks. Birds seen and heard on the property include various woodpeckers, chickadees, hooded mergansers, and great horned owls. Early morning and late afternoon are good times to find migrating birds in season. A few yards off the main trail northwest of the pond is a small Atlantic white cedar swamp—important and locally rare habitat for native wetland shrubs as well as deer, red fox, and numerous songbirds.
Tree species include the usual mix of pitch pines and various oak species as well as a couple of American chestnut trees. Shrubs found along the wetland edges include highbush blueberry and sweet pepperbush, winterberry, wintergreen, and sheep laurel. Evidence of a small cranberry bog can be seen in still-visible ditch lines. Leaf litter and pine needles create good habitat for mushrooms.
“We wanted, of course, to protect the lovely walk around the pond. And by then there were a lot of homes on the pond, and we recognized the risk of increased pollution. We didn’t want to sell the land to be developed, so the best choice was conservation.”
– Donor Ann Fleck-Henderson, who walks around Twining’s Pond on most days