With the majority of the great indoors barred to the public for the first time in living memory, it is time to turn off our LED screens and say hello to Mother Nature. That’s right, I’m talking about the semi-mythical Outside, primarily home to creepy-crawlies and the residents of Chilmark. Fortunately, we live on a beautiful Island with a plethora of trails, beaches, and outdoor experiences that could satisfy any potential customer. All it costs is a bit of your currently excessive free time and a few dozen calories or so. I have decided to put together a little guide, reviewing some of the most popular, and not-so-popular spots to experience nature at its finest on Martha’s Vineyard.
The rolling hills of France can’t compare to this outdoor spot, overlooking the great State Road and penetrating into the vast wilderness of West Tisbury. The trails are the classic Vineyard-in-not-quite-spring look, and every step feels purposeful as one delves deep into the heart of the wild. If you are brave enough to enter, you might find the fabled semi-haunted hippy van, lying deep in the woods. Rumor says it only shows up for those who are worthy, which would explain why I never spotted it. One of the prime uses of Tisbury Meadows is “nature study” according to the Martha’s Vineyard Landbank’s website. I couldn’t agree more! After hauling my statistics, physics, environmental science, and French textbooks up the trail, I had an awesome study session and discussed French literature with a nearby earthworm. “C’est la vie,” proclaimed the grounded fellow. “We must find happiness where we can.” Wow! What a profound thought. I responded by listing my top 100 favorite numbers. The trees did look at me kind of funny, though.
I was fortunate enough to get an interview with the very rock this trail was named after: Waskosim (also known as “New Stone” in its native Wampanoag tongue). As I arrived, I had a hard time finding it, but by following the 400-year-old rock wall, I was able to spot this lovable boulder.
“This reservation means a lot to me,” said Waskosim. “I live here during the winter and vacation here during the summer. In the fall and spring, I usually treat myself to a bit of a ‘staycation.’ There’s always something new and exciting going on.”
Well said, Waskosim. I couldn’t agree more. Be it a slight shift in the old stone wall or a light coating of snow, any two visits to Waskosim’s Rock Reservation will never be the same. If you’re looking for a historical adventure and care deeply about the well-being of wild rocks, Waskosim’s is just the place for you.
Prospect Hill is the second highest peak on the Island, clocking in at a whopping 308 feet. Might as well rename it Everest Jr., if you ask me. The Menemsha Hills Reservation is truly a mish-mash of different outdoor experiences, just barely making up for the dreaded trek to the outskirts of Chilmark and beyond. According to the Trustees’ website, the boulders left from the Vineyard’s glacial past are known as “erratics.” I like to call them “boulders.” Heading over the mountain and through the woods reveals a view of the old Brickyard that dates back to 1642, which was neat and reminded me of the brick house in the Three Little Pigs. Another huge plus are the toilets by the parking lot, a hugely underrated necessity of any outdoor adventure spot. Overall, a highly enjoyable experience: three out of 10.
Cedar Tree Neck
This is another area far up-Island, but I made the journey for the sake of journalistic integrity. This sanctuary is truly beautiful and has a pick-your-own adventure style with trails ranging from easy to nonexistent. I stuck with the easy ones. Despite this, I thoroughly loved my time there and the graceful interplay between forest and beach that exists around every corner.
However, a major disappointment was the distinct lack of necks. Be warned: the name of this establishment is entirely false advertisement. I was expecting some scarves, necklaces, maybe even an Adam’s apple or two. Alas, the trees looked just like most other trees I have seen, although they did hold very good conversation. Another side note: the water was a bit chilly, but I’m sure global warming will solve that issue within a few years.
Lambert’s Cove Beach is a great spot if you are looking for an adventure. We begin with the parking lot, sometimes crowded, sometimes not; it really is an exciting game of prediction. Venturing down the long, welcoming path, anticipation only grows as the sounds and smells of the ocean steadily increase. An unexpected bonus is the fun/awkward Shuffle-Shuffle-Move-Stop-Shuffle game that you get to play with other path wanderers as you attempt to pass each other while maintaining six feet of distance. Finally, the walkway opens up onto a marvelous view of the sea and sky, blueish green and white hues decorating the immense landscape before you. Unfortunately, it was pretty windy when I visited so I didn’t actually walk on the beach. But the buildup was decidedly epic.
The West Tisbury Dump
Now this is probably one of the most highly underrated outdoor experiences available on the Island. From start to finish, I was enthralled by the strong aromas and beautiful surrounding area. Talk about an invigorating experience! The sense of claustrophobia stemming from our species’ wasteful habits that are quickly destroying the environment really got my blood pumping. I have to subtract points for the Dumptique, though. Seeing all the ways people can reuse items really lessened the sense of impending doom to our planet; what a shame, I was enjoying the despair.
Overall, I would rate the Outside “good.” This is a tentative score since I have not seen the entirety of the Outside — I know of at least 80 square miles of the Vineyard that I didn’t check out. But going off what I did see, Outside is a more-than-adequate substitute for Inside, making it a great place to spend some time over the next few weeks. Plus, the rocks have some very interesting things to say.