Throughout the island there are hundreds Cape Cod kettle ponds, so named because these round bodies of water resemble tea kettles. They range in size from small fishing holes to larger boating ponds.
The kettle ponds formed about 18,000 years ago, when the Laurentide Ice Sheet that once covered half of North America began to retreat. In some places, large blocks of ice left indents in the earth as they melted. When the groundwater level rose, these isolated indents filled with freshwater and became ponds.
Today, visitors flock to Cape Cod kettle ponds to swim, kayak, canoe, fish, and scuba dive. While there are hundreds of options to choose from, these tranquil kettle ponds are definitely worth putting at the top of your list. Keep in mind that many of these spots have a limited number of parking spots or parking spots reserved for residents only.
Dyer Pond (Wellfleet) is a small kettle pond hidden in a dense pine forest on the edge of the Cape Cod National Seashore in Wellfleet. The pond’s shoreline is lined with balmy pine trees, except where a small crescent-shaped beach hugs the still water. Amazingly, this secluded spot is only a fifteen minute walk from the parking lots at nearby Great Pond and Long Pond.
Flax Pond (Brewster) is a popular kettle pond located in Nickerson State Park in Brewster. This relatively large pond is a favorite with swimmers, since motorboats aren’t allowed in the water here. Flax Pond is also a popular spot for fishermen since, every spring and fall, the park stocks the pond with trout. This busy pond is accessible from the park and the Cape Cod Rail Trail.
Great Pond (Truro) is an idyllic kettle pond tucked deep in the heart of the Cape Cod National Seashore. Great Pond is bursting with aquatic life, including green frogs, dragonflies, and even a snapping turtle. Its shoreline is criss-crossed with pine-needle-carpeted trails that link small groups of summer cabins. Note that there are only four public parking spots at Great Pond.
Great Pond (Wellfleet) is a round kettle pond situated in the Cape Cod National Seashore in Wellfleet. The pond includes Great Pond Beach, a sandy expanse that’s bathed in dappled sunlight or much of the day. Most of the remaining shoreline is carpeted with soft pine needles and shaded with tall pine trees. Great Pond has a small parking lot with an attendant present.
Gull Pond (Wellfleet) is a large kettle pond located not far from Newcomb Hollow Beach in the Cape Cod National Seashore. From this pond, canoers and kayakers can also access Higgins Pond and Williams Pond, two smaller kettle ponds to the north. There’s also a roped-off swimming area for families with children. To park at Gull Pond, visitors either need a town parking sticker or permission from the adjacent Jack’s Boat Rental.
Hamblin Pond (Barnstable) lies southeast of Mystic Lake in Barnstable. The water close to the Hamblin Pond shoreline is shallow and temperate, which makes this kettle pond a favorite for families with young children. Even so, the beach at Hamblin Pond never seems to get overcrowded. This family-friendly retreat also features a roped-off swimming area, bathrooms, and a large parking lot.
Hathaway’s Pond (Barnstable) is a peaceful kettle pond located northeast of Wequaquet Lake and Shallow Pond in Barnstable. This pond features an expansive sand beach dotted with tall pine trees, picnic tables, and barbeque grills, which make it the perfect place to spend an entire day with the family. Hathaway’s Pond has a small parking lot that’s located close to the beach.
Johns Pond (Mashpee) is a large kettle pond set in the middle of several wildlife preserves, including Johns Pond Park (to the north), the Mino Conservation Area (to the northeast), and Alper Conservation (to the west). This pebbly sand beach includes a basketball net and plenty of space to set up a volleyball or badminton net. Johns Pond has a large parking lot with an attendant present.
Long Pond (Wellfleet) is a popular kettle pond located at the end of a winding, wooded road at the edge of the Cape Cod National Seashore. This pond includes a roped-off swimming area, a floating dock, and a shady picnic area. Its relaxed summer feel that make Long Pond the perfect place for families with young children. As a bonus, it has a large parking lot with plenty of spots.
Micah Pond (Barnstable) is a kettle pond hidden just north of Joshua Pond in Osterville. While this tranquil pond is located just five minutes from downtown Osterville, it gets very few visitors because it doesn’t have a parking lot. Those who brave the street parking on Pond Street, however, are often rewarded with an empty beach, a quiet atmosphere, and a free rope swing.
Punch Bowl (Falmouth) is a tiny kettle pond in the village of Sippewissett. Punch Bowl is blanketed by the Beebe Woods, a nature preserve that encompasses thick groves of pine and beech trees. To reach this kettle pond, you’ll need to walk through the forest first. Because it’s less accessible to tourists, Punch Bowl is a favorite swimming hole for Cape Cod locals.
Ryder Pond (Truro) is a serene pond nestled in the Cape Cod National Seashore in Truro. This kettle pond is overflowing with aquatic life, especially frogs. In fact, young children will often wait patiently on the banks of Ryder Pond, hoping to catch a frog in the shallow water. There are several cabins scattered around the pond, but otherwise the area is very secluded.
Schoolhouse Pond (Chatham) is a popular kettle pond that’s located not far from downtown Chatham. This busy spot features a sandy beach and a roped-off swimming area. During the day, there’s also a lifeguard on duty while the beach is open. Because it’s accessible and safe, Schoolhouse Pond is a favorite for families with young children. There’s limited parking on site.
Sheep Pond (Brewster) is a beautiful kettle pond located just north of Long Pond in Brewster. This popular swimming hole features a small, picturesque beach set on the edge of a long, still expanse of water. While there is limited space to swim close to the beach, beachgoers can explore the entire length of the pond with a canoe or kayak. There’s limited parking on site.
Snake Pond (Sandwich) is a highly accessible kettle pond located on Snake Pond Road in Sandwich. At this pond, a sandy beach, shaded by several tall pine trees, hugs a large section of shoreline just off the main road. The water here is clear and relatively warm, which makes it a fun place to bring small children who aren’t ready to brave the ocean surf just yet. Snake Pond has a small parking lot with no attendant present.
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