About Coonamessett River – Middle and Lower Bogs
The Coonamessett River cuts through a narrow valley in the outwash plain and empties out into Great Pond on Vineyard Sound. Because of a man-made ditch, water does flow from Coonamessett Pond, but most of the water in the river swells up from groundwater at Broad River and southward.
The dirt access roads that circle the bogs are open for walking year round, yet the bogs themselves are not for walking. Cranberries bloom in June, and in September and October some of the bogs are flooded for harvesting. At times during the winter, many bogs in Falmouth are flooded again to protect the vines. For this reason and for their central location, the bogs are popular spots for ice skating.
Cranberry harvesting has long been a part of Falmouth’s heritage. First cultivated on Cape Cod in 1816, commercial production of cranberries started in the late 1800s. In 1971, the town purchased more than 100 acres of upland, bog, wetland and river for conservation of natural resources, including the watershed. There are also private bogs along the river.
Many birds frequent the bogs to hunt and nest along the surrounding ditches. Birds of prey can also be seen hunting for food: osprey searching for herring, or alewife, in the waterways and red-tailed hawks searching for mice and other small creatures in the upland. Fish ladders have been installed to help the herring migrate upstream for spawning. Common streamside vegetation such as Swamp Azalea, Sweet Pepperbush, White Oak, Scarlet Oak and Tupelo springs up along some of the sandy slopes.
Parking is beside the bogs off John Parker Road, south of Sandwich Road. Boat launching here at the bog pond is also possible. Room for one or two cars is available at the pull-off area on Route 28, east of the bridge. Following a short path to the river, visitors may launch canoes or kayaks and paddle downstream to Great Pond. The beaches along the west side of the pond are open to the public.