Lowell Holly
Mashpee & Sandwich, MA
135 acres
Bird Watching Cross-country skiing/Snowshoeing Swimming Dog Walking Sailing/Boating Fishing Walking/Hiking (Moderate) Picnicking Canoeing/Kayaking Beach

About Lowell Holly

Wander along carriage roads and foot trails as you pass through groves of American holly that embellish this unique peninsula.

What makes Lowell Holly a special place?
After visiting the sandy shoreline along Lowell Holly's two freshwater ponds, you’ll appreciate why the area was once called Conaumet, from the Wampanoag word “Kuwunut,” meaning “beach.”

Carriage roads follow the shoreline of Mashpee and Wakeby Ponds and pass through the peninsula’s beech woodlands. The shallow, sandy shores of both ponds provide an opportunity for cooling off when the weather is hot. Both ponds are stocked with fish. The narrowest portion of Conaumet Neck provides a spacious picnic site with tables that offer soothing views of the water. Lowell Holly's most intriguing features may be its two peninsular knolls, one of which juts out into Mashpee Pond and the other into Wakeby Pond. Both vantage points offer spectacular views over these large ponds.

Escaping the Ax
For several thousand years before European settlers arrived, the Cape Cod woodlands were home to Native Americans, who made a practice of periodically burning the forests to clear land for cornfields. After their arrival, European settlers converted most of the forests on Cape Cod to agricultural land or woodlots. But it appears that little or no activity by man –such as burning, plowing, or the felling of trees – has taken place for more than 200 years on the majority of land at what is now Lowell Holly. The result is a forest that has largely escaped the influence of man and thus represents a unique natural resource for Cape Cod.

4 miles of trails and former carriage paths. Moderate walking.

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours.

Regulations & Advisories

  • No motor boats allowed to land on the beach.

  • Mountain biking is permitted only on designated trails.

  • Hunting is prohibited.

The Trustees reserves the right to photograph or video visitors and program participants for promotional use, and usage of our properties implies consent. Find the full policy here.


South Sandwich Road
Mashpee and Sandwich, MA 02649
Telephone: 508.636.4693
E-mail: southcoast@thetrustees.org

Latitude: 41.667
Longitude: -70.482

Get directions on Google Maps.

Memorial Day to Labor Day: From Rt. 6, take Exit 2 onto Rt. 130 South and follow for 1.5 mi. Turn left onto Cotuit Rd. and follow for 3.4 mi. Then turn right onto South Sandwich Rd. and follow for 0.7 mi. Turn right onto unmarked road and follow to seasonal entrance and parking area (20 cars).

Year-round: Same directions as above, but, after turning right onto South Sandwich Rd., follow for 0.6 mi to year-round entrance and parking area (6 cars) on right. For immediate access to Mashpee-Wakeby Pond, visitors are advised to use the seasonal parking area; Mashpee-Wakeby Pond is much further away along a circuitous trail from the year-round parking area.


When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours.

FREE to all.

Property History

The 135-acre reservation is named for its donor, Abbot Lawrence Lowell, and its stands of some 250 native American holly trees (Ilex opaca), which grow naturally only along the New England coast.

Although the reservation is a rare example of a Cape Cod old-growth forest, it also reflects the horticultural tastes of Abbott Lowell, former president of Harvard University. After purchasing the property from John Rothery (who purchased the land from Fred Jonas, a Wampanoag), Lowell embellished the landscape with scattered plantings of rosebay and catawba rhododendrons (as well as mountain laurel). Although natural stands of these rhododendrons have never been found on Cape Cod, the region's mild climate and acid soils make moist places on the reservation ideal habitat for these trees. Lowell bequeathed the property to The Trustees in 1943 with the hopes that the reservation would be preserved for its outstanding display of flora.

His hopes were soon answered. In 1949, Wilfred Wheeler, Sr., a former Massachusetts Secretary of Agriculture and an enthusiastic member of the American Holly Society (he was known as the “Dean of American Hollies”), continued Lowell's tradition by planting some 50 varieties of American holly. Today, Lowell Holly is one of the northern-most study grounds for American holly and stands as a tribute to Lowell and Wheeler's efforts.

Property Acquisition History
Original acreage a bequest, with endowment, of A. Lawrence Lowell in 1942. Additional land purchased in 1973.

Conservation and Stewardship

The forest at Lowell Holly includes northern red oak (Quercus rubra) and sweet birch (Betula lenta), both of which are rare on Cape Cod. Smooth-barked American beech trees penetrate the highest slopes of the property, about 50 feet above the surface of the ponds. Red maple and tupelo dominate where the water table reaches the surface. Interspersed with these trees are mostly scarlet and black oaks, as well as pitch pine and American holly. A five-acre cranberry bog is located in the southwest corner of the reservation. Active until 1971, the bog is no longer managed to produce cranberries.

In the spring, the mountain laurel and rhododendrons bloom pink, white, lavender, and red. Spring is also the time when pink lady's slippers bloom. In the fall, the sharp-tipped leaves of the American holly are still dark green and the stems heavy with fruit.

The reservation protects part of a major watershed. Mashpee Pond (399 acres) and Wakeby Pond (316 acres) are among the largest freshwater bodies on Cape Cod. They are connected by a 200-foot-wide thoroughfare (“The Narrows”) beyond the tip of Conaumet Neck and drain south to the Mashpee River, Popponesset Bay, and Nantucket Sound. The ponds are stocked with brown and rainbow trout and are home to native warm water species, including small mouth bass, chain pickerel, and bluegills.

Maps and Resources

Printed trail maps are distributed free from bulletin boards in parking areas. Please understand that supplies periodically run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.

Planning Your Visit

Community Links

Before You Go
We encourage you to visit as many Trustees properties as you can.

Wherever your travels take you, please observe all posted regulations, follow special instructions from property staff, and keep in mind the Stewardship Code:

  • Protect wildlife and plants.
  • Guard against all risk of fire.
  • Help keep air and water clean.
  • Carry out what you carry in.
  • Use marked footpaths and bridle paths.
  • Leave livestock, crops, and machinery alone.
  • Respect the privacy of neighboring land.
  • Enjoy and share the landscape with others.

Click on links below for further visitor information:

Before Setting Out

Enjoying Trustees Reservations


About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land