The Lowell Holly Reservation spans 135 acres between Mashpee and Sandwich. The property, with four miles of winding carriage roads and foot trails, boasts 250 native holly trees as well as other unique plantings.
A (Lowell) Holly Jolly Cape Christmas
The Lowell Holly property is a rare example of Cape Cod old growth forest; the stands of never-cut American Beech are worth seeing. The trails are especially festive to wander this time of the year, and you will often spot bright red holly berries clustered amongst the distinctive green foliage. American Holly, now strongly linked to the Christmas season, grows natively only on the East Coast.
According to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, American Holly, or ilex opaca, can grow from 25 to 60 feet tall. They are often found in the shaded understory of the forest. Only the female plants bear the iconic and distinctive bright red berries. The berries are poisonous to humans, but some birds and other animals eat them.
In the winter you’ll need to park at the winter parking lot just off of South Sandwich Road. The lot has space for 6 cars, so the parking can be tricky at particularly busy times. The park is free to all and open dawn to dusk.
History of Lowell Holly Reservation
A summer parking lot takes visitors further into the property, and closer to the beach on Wakeby Pond. The boat launch is available.
This unique peninsula exemplifies the horticulture taste of the late Abbott Lawrence Lowell. Lowell and his family had strong Massachusetts roots, and he served as the president of Harvard University from 1909-1933. Visitors to the property can find rosebay, mountain laurel, and catawba rhododendron as well as fifty varieties of American Holly planted by Wilfred Wheeler Sr., a former Massachusetts Secretary of Agriculture.
Lakefront Views at Lowell Holly Reservation
In addition to the unique plantings and botanicals dotting the property, the trails skirt the lapping edges of Wakeby and Mashpee Ponds. Following the 0.7-mile red trail from the winter lot, walkers will enjoy views of the Sandwich Town Beach and can spot Cleveland Island from Conaumet Cove. The cove’s name comes from the Wampanoag word for beach, Kuwunut.
The yellow trail loops for 0.8 miles, circumnavigating the heart of the Lowell Holly property. The orange and blue trials both take visitors to different spits of land on opposite sides of the peninsula. The orange trail also features a small loop at the end, and covers 0.6 miles, providing views of The Narrows and Mashpee Pond.
Visitors shouldn’t miss the blue trail, which juts out on a narrow spit of land, letting you get up close to the shores of Wakeby Pond at Conaumet Point. From there you can spot the far shore, as well as Keith and Cleveland Islands. With water on three sides, the narrow bit of the trail is certainly a highlight!
The property was gifted to the Trustees of Reservations in 1943 upon Lowell’s death, with the hope it would be protected for years to come. The Trustees of Reservations is a land trust that manages over 100 properties covering approximately 25,000 acres across Massachusetts, including many sites on Cape Cod and the Islands.
The property features views of Mashpee and Wakeby Pond, and is beautiful year-round, especially so in the fall when the leaves begin to change. Paths have some elevation and can be uneven with roots. Dogs are welcome on the trail, though they must be kept on leash.
If you’re interested in fishing, you’ll be delighted to hear that both of the ponds, Mashpee and Wakeby, are stocked with fish.