WEST BARNSTABLE — If you like deciduous trees and giant ferns, the Bridge Creek Conservation Area in West Barnstable might have the lush forest hike you’ve been looking for. Here’s the intriguing trail description from the town of Barnstable website:
“The Bridge Creek Conservation Area is notable for its remarkably diverse and accessible wetland habitats. It encompasses 246 acres overall. The area hosts an array of interesting features such as stone walls, abandoned cranberry bogs, tidal and freshwater streams, open marsh, hardwood swamp and upland.” It makes a nice pairing with the adjacent Jenkins Wildlife Sanctuary.
The 2.5-mile trail system is V-shaped and of the out-and-back variety. Parking at the Jenkins spot (Church Street, West Barnstable) allows you to divide the hike into two out-and-back walks, so you can return to your car at “halftime,” or shorten the hike. The fire station parking spot (2160 Meetinghouse Way, West Barnstable) starts you off on a 5-mile out and back journey.
For most of the Bridge Creek hike, you are meandering through a canopy of towering deciduous trees. It feels lush, like the woods of Vermont or New Hampshire. Some of the ferns by the trail are 4 feet tall. In late spring, you will encounter a lovely scattering of rhododendrons in bloom.
In the history department, you may stumble upon a stone marker that says: “Site of Fortification House, Built by Deacon Wm. Crocker, 1643, Barnstable Tercentenary 1939.”
I found out more about the Fortification House on the town of Barnstable website. In early settler days, “relations between newcomers and the original Native American habitants were not friendly and the threat of war was a concern throughout the colonies. Even though this was not the case in Barnstable, Plymouth authorities ordered the town to provide refuge for its people. This was one of three fortification houses built in the Town of Barnstable.”
Natural beauty and a bit of history combine to make this a nice hike in the summer, especially in the cooling shade of the giant trees.
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