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Tree swallows migrating over Ram Pasture and Hummock Pond in September.

Winter Walks: Hummock Pond & Clark Cove

Winter Walks: Hummock Pond & Clark Cove


During the winter months, I spend a lot of time walking the island’s seasonally uncrowded shoreline all around Nantucket because of what I can find for wildlife, giant surf, erosion and beachcombing booty.

Snowy owls camp out in dunes during the winter, nor’easters are frequent and exciting to experience during and after they’re pummeling the island and I regularly collect more than a dozen Frisbees from the brush along the edges of the south shore.

There’s also a great variety of ocean and pond bird life at the ocean ends of the outwash ponds along the south shore including ponds such the Miacomet, Hummock, Mioxes and Long ponds, the Weweeder ponds and Clark Cove. So, during the hunting seasons through the fall and into early winter, deducing that deer and rabbits, and their human predators do battle in the thickets and forested areas of the island where the hunted find the best cover and the hunters know to find them, I skirt the bluffs, coastal banks and dunes where no instinctually savvy animal would dare stray during the hunting season so out in the open.

Along many sections of the south shore are deer and human trails you can follow, and also some dirt and grass roads, and of course, beaches. One such favorite section that I hike year-round, but especially during the hunting seasons, takes me from the ocean end of Hummock Pond Road over to Head of the Plains and if I want to, all the way to Sheep Pond and Madaket Beach. I get to explore the saltwater ends of Hummock Pond and Clark Cove, walk through the southern end of Ram Pasture (part of the Nantucket Conservation Foundation’s Sanford Farm property, and out on the open expanses of Head of the Plains.

Begin this walk by finding the sea end of Hummock Pond Road where on the right side, you’ll find places to angle park. From there, walk down onto the beach and go right (west). When you find the southern end of Hummock Pond, on its west side, walk up the temporary embankment created when the town opens this pond to the ocean and then inland as if you were going to walk the west shore of the pond. You’ll find a trail running through the beach grass and into low shrubs leading to a wire fence and eventually, an opening in the fence. Once through the fence and now, in Ram pasture, go left so the ocean is on your left and Ram Pasture on your right.

Follow the fence to another opening and go through it if you want to walk on the beach again. Or, continue along it until you reach the next body of water known as Clark Cove. Clark Cove used to be part of Hummock Pond, forming the J-shape prior to the Blizzard of 1978. While this legendary storm was dumping more than two feet of snow on mainland New England Feb. 5, 1978, it was driving storm surge up into the dunes of the narrow southern hook of this pond, filling it in with sand and effectively creating two ponds.

Clark Cove is its own pond. From where the fence ends at this pond, walk down onto its shore and over the dirt road and parking area on the west of Clark Cove near the ocean.

Sometimes, I’ll walk the dirt road that parallels the beach to the next beach opening, but either way, this is roughly where I turn around and retrace my steps to get back to the end of southwestern end of Hummock Pond.