On a beautiful and biodiverse 11 acres sitting just above Nauset Inlet lies OCT’s Woods Cove Conservation Area. Walkers enter this lovely preserve through a gap in an old stone wall, the remnant of a farm that once occupied the site. The trail passes through upland highlighted by mature white oaks, then descends, skirting a wetland with vernal pools and ultimately emerges at a salt marsh. The salt marsh marks the end of the trail and to either side is private property. Please respect the rights of private property owners.
Held by: OCT
Location: 366 Tonset Road, Orleans
Trail length: Less than 1 mile
Year acquired: 1988–2001
From the intersection of Route 28 and Main Street in Orleans, drive east on Main Street .4 mile toward Nauset Beach. Turn left on Tonset Road at the light and follow for 2.2 miles to trailhead on left. Look for OCT sign and kiosk and an opening in a stone wall. There is room for 2-3 cars to pull off the road.
Woods Cove is a prime example of how the community can unite with OCT to protect open space, even in a desirable and highly developed part of Orleans. The preserve comprises five separate parcels, donated and purchased at different times. Much of the land was formerly owned by Dr. Herbert and Helen “Bobsie” Whitlock, strong advocates for land preservation; Dr. Wilcock helped found the Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC). In 1998, Helen Whitlock donated a parcel of land along Freemans Lane to OCT, and the Polite family had already given a 1.3-acre parcel abutting the cove. In 2000, OCT worked with residents to raise funds for the purchase of two more. The final piece of the present Woods Cove CA was donated by Mrs. Whitlock in 2001, creating an upland corridor from the cove shoreline and a protected swath of forested wetlands.
Woods Cove boasts upland, wetland, and salt-marsh ecosystems. Each type of habitat is important for a wide range of local plant and animal species, including black-crowned night herons. The wetland portion is especially significant for its two vernal pools—vital breeding sites for amphibian species such as the wood frog and red-backed salamander, both of which have been observed on site. Human visitors also appreciate the area’s strong scenic values.
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