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Experience the drama of a rocky shoreline and scenic vistas across Vineyard Sound to the Elizabeth Islands from the second-highest point on the island.
What makes Menemsha Hills Reservation a special place?
We think it’s the variety of habitats – and range of activities – to be enjoyed within this 211-acre preserve. Climb to the top of the second-highest point on the Vineyard. Enjoy a leisurely picnic. Take in some spectacular ocean views, then take fishing rod in hand for some surfcasting. (Or just get away from it all on a quiet woods trail.)
Wet, Dry, then Very Wet
The three miles of trails allow walkers to experience multiple mini-environments, including wetlands; woodland groves leading to a hilltop; open, wind-blasted coastal plain; and a rocky ocean edge. The low, marshy areas just beyond the parking areas support red maples and beech, while red, white, and black oaks mantle the slopes of Prospect Hill. Approaching the shore, dune grass and pitch pine predominate. Look for goldenrod and beach plum helping to anchor the dune cliffs above the beach, where rocks of every size dot the sand and line tide pools.
High and Mighty
At 308 feet in elevation, Prospect Hill is the second highest point on the Vineyard (at 311 feet, Peaked Hill, located just southeast, takes top honors.) Along the path, pass holly and high-bush blueberry, which thrive in the sandy, moist soils here. From the top of the aptly-named hill, the prospects are indeed delightful, a panorama extending from the Elizabeth Islands, past pretty Menemsha and the cliffs of Aquinnah, to Noman’s Island.
The Age of Ice
This reservation (and all of Martha’s Vineyard and the other islands and coastal areas of the Northeast), was crushed and scraped, carved and shaped, by thousands of years of glacial advance and retreat. The wetlands here exist partly as a result of their underpinnings of impervious clay, created when looser sand and gravel soils were compressed by millions of tons of ice.
Within the woods, there are still some sizeable boulders, called erratics, left behind by the retreating ice. (Many were hauled from their earthen beds to be used in breakwaters). Similarly, the uplands and bluffs overlooking Vineyard Sound were formed as the glacier creaked and rumbled across this corner of the North American continent.
Hike to one of the highest promontories on the island, then descend through woodlands and hardy seaside groundcover to coastal bluffs overlooking Vineyard Sound, where visitors can enjoy sublime with views of the Elizabeth Islands.
Bricks by the Brook
Although early Vineyard commerce generally revolved around fishing, seafaring and farming, heavier industry also played a part in the island’s history. Just beyond the northeast edge of this property, along Roaring Brook, stands the remnants of a brick chimney, all that remains of a 19th-century brickworks.
Moderate hiking along three miles of trails. The spur to top of Prospect Hill may require minor exertion.
When to Visit
Open year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1½ hours.
Seasonal portable toilets at parking lot.