State Forest a Convenient Easy Walk
Ready to take a dog walk but not sure where to go? Or are you tired of the same old trails? Stay tuned as I bring you near and far to the best Nantucket trails to explore in the company of dogs.
If you are new to dog walking—because you just adopted a dog or realized the one you live with would benefit from a daily walk—you might want to try an easy, nearby trail to start. The State Forest, smack dab in the middle of “mid-island,” may be just the one to get you going.
Much of the mid-island State Forest (as opposed to the one on Polpis Road), is now multi-use—walking trails interspersed with the Nantucket Disc Golf course. Though I was apprehensive when they first announced that the course would be going in the State Forest, I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how the course actually improved this forest. It used to be a lovely wild, tangled mess. And now it’s a lovely tamed, groomed park: a little gem of pine-needle-lined paths, shade trees, a pine tree “cathedral,” and an obstacle course, too!
From either parking lot (see directions below) just pick a path—they all wander here and there, but you can’t get lost. The entire walk is hemmed in on all sides by roads: if you hit a road, turn around and go back. Most of the walk is shaded, which is a blessing in the summer. You’ll find lady slippers along some of the more shaded paths in the spring. A large honey hive hides deep in the center of the forest. Look for the pine cathedral close to the Lover’s Lane parking lot. Wooden “men” pop up here and there—cast offs put to use as benches and forest art from the (dead) tree cutting they did to make the golf course.
One of the walk’s best assets, from a dog's point of view, is its obstacle course. Technically on Camp Richard’s property, the camp can be found if you head west and cross over Rugged Road. Look for the Camp Richard’s sign, walk toward the camp buildings, and keep going straight. You will come to a very large open field with a basketball hoop. Keep heading straight and in a small clearing you will come upon some balance beams. While this is a course designed for people, be creative and teach your dog a new trick with some of the obstacles: bring treats and lure them across (or over) the balance beams; throw a tiny treat into the middle of each tire and make them “run the tires.” There are posts for “up and sit,” and even upright tires to teach “through.” A side trail to the right at the beginning of the course takes you on another walk, one flush with blueberries in June and July.
If you want to hang out with your dog in a less intense way, head back to the Sate Forest and the aforementioned Nantucket Disc Golf course (starts at the Lover’s Lane parking lot). People and dogs aplenty are just roaming around playing: a good way to socialize yourself and your dog. Go grab a disc or two at the Sunken Ship. Be forewarned: there are some serious disc golfers on the course, so you may need to make way.
Dogs need physical and mental stimulation every day. The State Forest is a great place for them to get both. And fall is a great time for you to get out there and give it to them. Happy walking!
Directions: This State Forest is basically a big rectangle bordered by Lover’s Lane and Bayberry Lane and Rugged Road and Old South Road (see map). There are two parking lots for this walk. There is a large one that holds at least 10 cars right off of Lover’s Lane. Take Old South Road toward the airport and look for Lover’s Lane on your right. The parking lot is about 1/4 mile down Lover’s Lane on your right.
The other parking lot is off of Ticcoma Way. Take Fairgrounds Road from Old South Road and look for Ticcoma Way on your left (right across the street from The Faregrounds Restaurant). Follow Ticcoma all the way to the very end. It dead-ends in a small parking lot that fits about 4 cars. For a map, go here: http://www.nantucketdogwalk.com/State_Forest.html
A Dog’s Life, Nantucket, explores the many dog (and other animal)-related issues on Nantucket. Stephanie Henke co-founded Nantucket Safe Harbor for Animals and created and manages Nantucket Dog Walk, a website dedicated to the many glorious dog walks on Nantucket.