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Springtime Secrets

Four local naturalists share their favorite places to savor the arrival of spring

Photo by James Rassman

Quashnet River Component, East Falmouth
Witnessing the herring take their annual journey up freshwater streams to spawn is one of the classic Cape Cod rites of spring. As the largest source of fresh water to Waquoit Bay, the Quashnet River stretches from Mashpee to Falmouth and supports strong populations of eels, eastern brook trout, and herring. Oak and pine forests dominate this conservation area, with abandoned cranberry bogs lining both sides of the river. The property is part of 486 acres purchased by state from 1987 to 1988 and subsequently added to the Waquoit Bay Reserve. “In spring, there is a lot going on,” says James Rassman, stewardship coordinator for the Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. “There’s a new batch of brook trout, herring running up the river, osprey returning. Anywhere the herring are—that’s tons of energy that attracts other animals.” This quiet spot features an easy 2.5-mile trail that follows the river and continues through the forests. Rassman is quick to point out the current restoration project undertaken by Trout Unlimited, a conservation group dedicated to native trout as a species. “They have transformed this cranberry bog channel back into the productive river it is today,” he says. Spring is an ideal time to visit Quashnet, not only for the fish, peepers, frogs, and lady slippers, but also to avoid the mosquitoes that accompany the hot summer weather. Herring typically arrive in late April while osprey can be seen in late March. For more information, go to

From the Mashpee Commons Rotary take Route 28 heading towards Falmouth. In about two miles, take a right onto Martin Road. Parking and trailhead will be on your right. Be aware that Martin Road is a short loop off Route 28. If you miss the first road, take the second and the trailhead will be on your left. Parking is limited.

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