Halfway Pond Conservation Area - Plymouth, MA
Big Point Preserve at Halfway Pond (23.4 acres)
Conant-Storrow Preserve (26.7 acres)
Gallows Pond Preserve (56 acres)
Tayler-Touster Wildlands (61 acres)
West Shore Preserve at Halfway Pond (242.5 acres)
Briggs, Burchell, Conant, Tayler-Touster families (see below)
Wildlands Trust protects more land in Plymouth than in any other town — nearly 1,500 acres. The forest that once carpeted the area is increasingly fragmented. However, the Halfway Pond Conservation Area still contains important natural areas and is a place of rare tranquility and beauty. These five preserves were acquired through the extraordinary planning and leadership of LeBaron R. Briggs, III, and the generosity of his and other local families. From pine-barrens to forests of beech and mixed hardwoods, these preserves protect many habitats, supporting a rich variety of plants and animals.
Wildlands acquired these preserves over 19 years, beginning in 1982, when LeBaron and Ruth Briggs donated the 232-acre West Shore Preserve, with assistance from The Nature Conservancy. Between 1982 and 1990, Ruth and LeBaron, Winslow and Ann Briggs, John and Delia Briggs, and Marjorie Briggs donated the 56-acre Gallows Pond Preserve, providing a natural connection with Halfway Pond. Sixty-one acres were donated in 1986 by Irene Tayler and Saul Touster, and in 1993 Richard Conant, Jr., his family, and Kenneth S. Burchell donated the 26.7 Conant-Storrow Preserve, abutting the Gallows Pond Preserve. Big Point Preserve’s 23.4 acres were given by LeBaron R. Briggs, III, in 1998. In 2001, a ten-acre parcel on Halfway Pond abutting existing preserves was acquired by Wildlands.
Just as Henry David Thoreau referred to Walden Pond as the “eye of the world,” Halfway Pond shines as the eye of Plymouth County. The pond provides habitat for the federally endangered northern redbelly cooter (formerly known as the Plymouth redbelly turtle), and its shores provide one of the region’s better sites for spotting bald eagles. Its exceptional water quality supports six mussel species, including two state-listed rare species.
Come to this unique conservation area to enjoy its remarkable scenic and spiritual values. Walk for a brief time or several hours on an extensive network of interconnecting, well-marked trails. Enjoy the scent of swamp azalea, swamp rose, and sweet pepperbush as you canoe Halfway Pond on a July evening. Explore woodland swamps and pond shores during crisp fall days when the vegetation glows with brilliant color. Snowshoe through open woodlands in winter. Search the pine-barrens in spring for unusual wildflowers.
Many bird species thrive along the pond shores, and prairie warblers, rufous-sided towhees, and common yellowthroats are frequently seen in the western part of this preserve in spring. While walking Gramp's Loop Trail you’ll pass through a cathedral of white pines, pine-barrens, and a large frost hollow.
From Gramp’s Loop, follow the Gallows Pond Trail across Mast Road, into the oak-pine forest along the shores of Gallows Pond. The trail ends on the Gallows Pond Road and from there one can pick up other trails in the preserves. This preserve is characterized by wooded hillsides, dry kettle holes, views of the pond, a three-acre wetland, and some large glacial erratics. At the top of a rise above Mast Road, the Whippoorwill Trail branches off making its way through quiet woods and leads to an extensive woodland swamp. After the swamp, look for beech trees and white pines in the higher elevations. The trees here are older and larger than most in the Conservation Area. The Whippoorwill Trail connects with a trail on Conant-Storrow Preserve, where the forest of oak and pitch pine supports plants in the heath family.
Less common is the forest of beech trees that you’ll pass through on the Big Point Preserve trail above the shores of Halfway Pond. On top of a large bluff, at the tip of Big Point, a panoramic view takes in most of the pond, its island, and the forest beyond. This is a spectacular place in which to sit and watch the sun go down, casting a golden shadow on the woodlands. The Blackmer Hill and Joe Brown Trails offer easy, pleasant walking on old woods roads, creating connections and loops among the other trails. Follow the map to explore all of these paths.