Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Wander the Island’s many miles of trails this winter and spring

Now through early spring, the Island’s conservation properties offer much to appreciate. Enjoy expansive vistas, solitude on the trails, and fewer ticks too. Even on a beautiful weekend day, most parking areas have plenty of room. The updated TrailsMV mobile app includes more than 100 properties and 220+ miles of trails across the Island landscape.

Several of the Island’s land conservation groups – M.V. Land Bank, Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, The Trustees of Reservations, and Vineyard Conservation Society – offer popular guided walks each month with wildlife biologists, birders, and naturalists. They offer a great opportunity to visit both public and private conservation lands and connect with others who love the outdoors. Check out the Events listings on TrailsMV for details.

And don’t forget that every month offers the opportunity to visit a different Island beach and join the Beach BeFrienders in picking up trash along the shoreline. Sponsored by the Vineyard Conservation Society, Island libraries and DPWs, and the M.V. Refuse District. Meet new friends, breathe in that fresh ocean air, and help improve the health and beauty of the Island’s many miles of oceanfront. You can also pick up a VCS Beach BeFriender trash sticker at any Island library, visit the beach of your choice, and deposit your trash treasures for free at any Island transfer station. More information here.

TrailsMV includes all public trails on Martha’s Vineyard

The free mobile app TrailsMV – your pocket guide to 220+ miles of public walking trails on 114 properties across Martha’s Vineyard – is constantly being updated as new trails and properties are opened to the public. Check out the Events listing of conservation and outdoor activities, Excursions for walking and biking routes, and Articles for information on a variety of nature-related topics. Download TrailsMV free from the App Store or Google Play.

TrailsMV, a project of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation, is made possible through the generous financial support and collaboration of individual donors, the Island’s conservation organizations, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, and the six Island towns. Cape Cod 5, Edey Foundation, Farm Neck Foundation, Martha’s Vineyard Bank Charitable Foundation, and Martha’s Vineyard Community Foundation have helped underwrite the app’s ongoing updates.

Want to help support TrailsMV? Your tax-deductible contribution goes directly toward developing and improving the app’s many features, and we’re always interested to hear your feedback and suggestions. Contact trailsmv@sheriffsmeadow.org and let us know what you think.

Winter Small Game Hunting

The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank allows rabbit hunting by permit only during daylight hours on Saturdays from Jan. 1 – Feb. 29 at the following properties:

  • Brine’s Pond Preserve, Edgartown
  • Chappy Five Corners Preserve, Edgartown
  • Peaked Hill Reservation, Chilmark
  • Poucha Pond Reservation, Edgartown
  • Sepiessa Point Reservation, West Tisbury
  • Rock Reservation, Chilmark
— James Gathany

Keep an eye out for ticks, too.

Ticks are active year-round. Joining deer ticks and wood ticks out on the trails, meadows, beaches, and woodlands these days are lone star ticks, a relative newcomer with potentially serious consequences. Here’s how to avoid Lyme and other tick-related diseases:

  • Learn before you go – read about ticks and how to avoid them.
  • Wear light-colored clothing to spot ticks more easily.
  • Treat shoes, clothing, and gear with permethrin or an EPA-approved insect repellent. Follow application instructions carefully.
  • Avoid wooded and brushy areas, tall grass, beach dunes, and leaf litter.
  • Walk in the center of the trail away from vegetation.
  • Inspect yourself and companions carefully for ticks afterward.
Long Point Wildlife Refuge in West Tisbury – Kate Warner

Martha’s Vineyard Conservation Partners

Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary / Mass Audubon
Mass Audubon invites folks of all ages and from all backgrounds to explore four miles of trails through woodlands, meadows, ponds, salt marsh, and shorelines. Discover 350 acres of beautiful, dynamic landscape and take in the local wildlife that includes more than 100 species of birds. Here are some helpful tips and links if you’ll be visiting us:

  • Trails are open from dawn to dusk for your enjoyment.
  • Please be mindful of trash and stick to our “Carry in, carry out” policy.
  • Members have free admittance. Adults are $4, seniors (65+) and children (up to 12) are $3.
  • Kids can enjoy two nature play areas and a butterfly garden.
  • Restrooms and water fountains are open.
  • Remain on the trails at all times to protect plants, animals, and yourself.
  • Dogs are NOT allowed anywhere on the sanctuary.
  • Bicycles may use the entrance trail leading to the sanctuary, but no bikes are allowed on the interior trails.
  • Upcoming Programs for children, families and adults.

Polly Hill Arboretum
Explore a horticultural and botanical landmark property in West Tisbury.

  • Our grounds are open dawn-dusk, excluding Wednesdays 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. We will be closed Wednesdays for maintenance during the 2021 season.
  • The PHA Visitor Center is open Thurs-Tues 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Closed Wednesdays) through mid-October.
  • Masks are optional on our grounds. We ask that visitors wear a mask inside the Visitor Center out of consideration for our volunteers and staff.
  • Dogs are not allowed at the Arboretum.
  • Please do not climb trees or go into planting beds, to avoid damage to our plants.
  • Check our website, pollyhillarboretum.org, for info on tours, outdoor activities, and upcoming classes and lectures.

Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation
Founded in 1958, Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation is the local land trust for Martha’s Vineyard, protecting 3,220 acres of land in all six island towns. The mission of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation is to conserve the natural, beautiful, rural landscape and character of Martha’s Vineyard for present and future generations.

Sheriff’s Meadow maintains public trails for hiking, bicycling, bird-watching, and other passive recreation, offers environmental education programs, leads guided natural history walks and other activities on its 22 publicly accessible properties.

  • Leash all dogs at all times on Sheriff’s Meadow properties, and carry out waste.

The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a global environmental nonprofit working to create a world where people and nature can thrive. Over the past 35 years, TNC has helped protect more than 1,500 acres of land on Martha’s Vineyard, with a focus on conserving, managing, and expanding coastal plain heathland and grassland habitat. Island properties include the Hoft Farm Preserve in West Tisbury and David H. Smith Preserve in Edgartown.

The Trustees of Reservations
The Trustees asks that visitors follow these guidelines for the health and safety of all, including wildlife:

  • Please keep dogs leashed and away from other visitors at all times.
  • Carry out all waste.
  • If a parking area is full, please come back at a less busy time.

Long Point Wildlife Refuge: Dogs, horses, and other pets are prohibited at Long Point year-round.

Menemsha Hills Reservation and the Brickyard: Bicycles are not allowed on the trails at these locations.

Mytoi: Bicycles and dog walking are not allowed at Mytoi gardens on Chappaquiddick Island.

Wasque: Biking at Wasque is only allowed on permitted trails. Dogs must be leashed at all times. Swim at own risk as there is no lifeguard on duty.

Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank
The Land Bank staff regularly tests water quality as per state DPH at these bathing beaches:

  • Moshup Beach (Part of Aquinnah Headlands)
  • Great Rock Bight
  • Chilmark Pond Preserve (Atlantic Ocean Beach) 
  • Chappy Point
  • Edgartown Great Pond Beach (Atlantic Ocean Beach) 
  • Hillman’s Point 
  • Wilfred’s Pond Preserve 
  • Tashmoo Preserve 
  • Tisbury Great Pond Beach (Atlantic Ocean Beach) 

Land Bank boat user guidelines for Sepiessa Point Reservation boat launch: 

  • All boat ramp and canoe launch users shall practice social distancing. Users should allow appropriate space for users of the boat ramp or launch and clear the ramp immediately when their launch is complete.
  •  Users should ensure they are ready to depart quickly from the ramp or dock as soon as their boat is put into the water. Users not actively launching their boat should clear the launch area.
  • Upon return to ramp, users should load their boat as quickly as safely possible and then clear the launch area.
  • Use of ramps for organized fishing tournaments, derbies, or any other type of gathering is prohibited.
  • Loitering on ramps or use of ramps for any activity other than launching boats is prohibited.
  • Parking at ramps for activities other than launching boats is prohibited.
  • All recreational crafts shall remain a safe distance apart. Tying boats or other crafts together is prohibited.
  • All recreational boating is subject to the discretion of local officials, harbormasters, and law enforcement. 
  • Boaters may only land at the Land Bank’s Tisbury Great Pond Beach and not at other locations on the pond, which are on private land. Tisbury Great Pond Beach is several hundred yards east of the current cut and is marked with an orange buoy.


Manuel F. Correllus State Forest

The state forest’s 5,300 acres and many miles of trails at the heart of Martha’s Vineyard are open in accordance with the following rules:
  • Stay on authorized trails and obey all trail closures.
  • Be courteous of other path users.
  • Respect private property next to the trail.
  • Carry in, carry out all trash and belongings.

Shared-use trail etiquette for bikers:

  • Keep right unless passing.
  • Stop at all stop signs.
  • Trails are open dawn to dusk. If you have appropriate lights, ride at your own risk.
  • Give a clear and audible signal before passing and pass only when it’s safe to.
  • Travel at a reasonable speed.
  • Wear protective headgear. This is required by law for children 16 years and younger, but recommended for all.

The All-Island Trails Committee is comprised of the following nonprofit and government organizations, working together to help protect and preserve the rich natural heritage of Martha's Vineyard. For more information, please visit their websites.

Polly Hill Arboretum

Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation

The Trustees of Reservations

Vineyard Conservation Society

Vineyard Open Land Foundation

In collaboration with the towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark, Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and West Tisbury

Photographs courtesy of TrailsMV, with thanks to Stephen Chapman, Lanny McDowell, Max Skjoldebrand, Anne Speakman, Nancy Tutko, Kate Warner, Suzanne Warren, and Isabella Youmans.