Whenever I find myself wandering the natural woodlands of Canton, I encounter a host of problems. Number one: mosquitoes. For some reason, these irritating parasites always gravitate toward my scent, feast on my tasty blood, and leave me covered in red painful welts that itch for days on end. Number two: footwear. It never fails that my friends hatch the idea to traverse the forest just as I am attempting to break in new sandals or boots (I’ve ruined multiple pairs of shoes in this manner, not to mention pedicures). All in all, you might say I’m not the most adamant nature lover. But despite these never-ending obstacles, I continue to return to Ponkapoag Pond in Canton.
Ponkapoag Pond is part of the Blue Hills Reservation, a 7,000 acre protected area that stretches from Quincy all the way to Dedham. To reach Ponkapoag Pond, you must locate the hidden entrance off of Randolph Street. Once you spot the sign for Temple Beth David, slow down and you will see the narrow gravel road which leads to parking for the pond and surrounding trails. If you have access to a car that is not a 1998 Honda Civic or any other small sedan, then I recommend driving it. The road is extremely bumpy and has dips and boulders that have almost wrecked my poor silver Civic.
Once you have maneuvered your larger vehicle across the pot-hole ridden ground andfound appropriate parking, you have two choices. You can begin your visit with an easy hike or head straight down to the beach. The hiking trails around Ponkapoag Pond are perfect for people who don’t like to hike (like me). Most of the trails are quite flat and have minor inclines. Even though there are trails with different names, you are essentially walking in a large circle around the pond; there is no way you can get lost! This gives you time to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds you without the fear of taking a wrong turn.
While walking on the trails, you are shaded from the sun by a canopy of various trees. Even if you are not a tree expert (I most certainly am not), you will ultimately find the trees fascinating and thought-provoking; many of them have odd shapes and indents from years of rot and wear. Streams run alongside the trails, giving home to a variety of mosses and ferns. Your leisurely walk will also include the sounds of woodpeckers, bullfrogs, cicadas, and crickets with the occasional whir of a dragonfly.
Ponkapoag Pond also offers a very modest beach on which to frolic, sunbathe, and take a quick dip. The beach is pet-friendly and many visitors bring their dogs to swim in the water and socialize. Dogs are also allowed on the trails, but if your dog has never been introduced to a horse, you should probably just limit him to the beach. There is a horse stable right across the street from the entrance to Ponkapoag Pond, so horses are a common sight. Ponkapoag Pond is also a destination for avid fishermen. Pickerel, crappie, and trout swim the waters, while snapping turtles, ducks, and geese skim the pond’s surface. Non-motorized boats are allowed; many people bring small kayaks in which to explore the outer edges of the pond.
From the most enthusiastic of outdoors lovers to the more hesitant city dwellers, Ponkapoag Pond in Canton offers a variety of entertaining activities. Whether fishing, kayaking, hiking, or enjoying a simple picnic, you will find yourself wanting to return on a sunny day time and time again (just remember bug spray and the proper footwear).