Lyman Reserve
Find Your Place
Lyman Reserve Bourne, Plymouth & Wareham, MA
210 acres

About Lyman Reserve

Follow a tidal waterway from upstream cranberry bogs and woods to its mouth on a sandy beach at Buttermilk Bay.

What makes the Theodore Lyman Reserve a special place?
Home to one of the last remaining native sea-run brook trout fisheries in the eastern United States, the Theodore Lyman Reserve sits at the mouth of 4.5-mile-long Red Brook on Buttermilk Bay. Lyman is popular today with fly fishers, but catch-and-release only as The Trustees work to restore this treasured habitat.

Red Brook, the ecological, cultural, and scenic highlight of the reservation, is a 4.5-mile, spring-fed, coldwater stream that flows from White Island Pond to Buttermilk Bay. One of the few coastal streams in Massachusetts that supports anadromous fish (migratory fish which hatch in freshwater, make their way to sea to grow, and return as adults to spawn), Red Brook is home to one of the last remaining native sea-run brook trout fisheries in the eastern United States. It was one family's love for these "salters" that made the preservation of this special place possible.

In addition to Red Brook, the Lyman Reserve features freshwater wetlands, forested uplands, a sandy beach, and a scenic stretch of coastal shoreline with views of Buttermilk Bay and the Cape Cod Canal vertical lift railroad bridge.

The forested uplands are largely vegetated by mixed conifer and pitch pine-oak forests, with occasional patches of pitch pine-scrub oak habitat. Red maple swamp lines the riparian zone along the margins of Red Brook. Red Brook and the diversity of environments surrounding it provide important habitat for a variety of plant and animal species characteristic of southeastern Massachusetts. Many rare species have also been found, including several species of plants, birds, moths, and reptiles.

The traditional recreation on the property was fly fishing, and this area proves popular to the public today. The more popular areas to cast a fly are from the various old bridge and flume sites upstream and from the marsh near the mouth of Red Brook.

Trails
A 1.5-mi. loop trail winds its way from the parking lot to Red Brook, crossing it via rustic wooden bridges, and inviting deeper exploration of the Reserve’s freshwater wetlands, forested uplands, and sandy beach. A scenic stretch of coastal shoreline offers views of Buttermilk Bay and the Cape Cod Canal vertical lift railroad bridge. A 0.25-mi. trail across Head of the Bay Road provides a scenic loop through scrub oak and pine to the beach on beautiful Buttermilk Bay.

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour.

Regulations & Advisories

  • Mountain biking is not allowed.

  • Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times.

  • Small water craft may be carried to and launched from the beach.

  • Catch-and-release fishing by license holders only.

  • After-hours "off-stree" fisherman's parking is available for surf casting for stripers in season.

Directions

Head of the Bay Road and Red Brook Road
Bourne, Plymouth, and Wareham, MA
Telephone: 508.636.4693
E-mail: southcoast@ttor.org

Latitude: 41.7640
Longitude: -70.6314

Get directions on Google Maps.

From I-495 South: Follow to Rt. 25 East.
Take Exit 3 (to Buzzards Bay, Bourne) just
north of the Bourne Bridge. Bear right off
ramp. Take immediate right onto Head of the
Bay Road. Follow for approx. 3 mi. around
the eastern and northern shores of Buttermilk
Bay. Parking lot entrance is about 250
feet beyond Packard St. on right hand side.
From Rt. 3 South: Take Exit 1A, Rt. 6 West.
Slight right at Bournedale Rd. Continue onto
Head of the Bay Road. Follow as above.

Admission

When to Visit
Year-round, daily, sunrise to sunset. Allow a minimum of 1 hour.

Admission
FREE to all.

Property History

Named for water tinted red by the iron-rich soil near its source, Red Brook has been used by humans for nearly two millennia. Archaeological studies indicate that the area was an important encampment for Wampanoags some 1,800 years ago. Those who camped at Red Brook used clay cooking pots, sharpened stone blades, and ate seafood, deer meat, and other game.

European settlers had different uses for the land. Pitch pine was processed into tar, herring and alewife were caught during their spring runs, and bogs were mined for iron ore then planted with cranberries. The land was finally settled by Uriah Nickerson in the 1830s. The Lyman house, located across the street from the parking lot, was built in 1840 by the Nickerson family.

The Theodore Lyman Reserve honors the naturalist who, in 1867, first experienced Red Brook during a site visit for the Massachusetts Board of Inland Fisheries. For the next 30 years, Theodore Lyman III (1833 – 1897) worked to protect Red Brook by purchasing parcels of land on both sides from source to mouth. He eventually acquired a total of 638 acres, and for six generations the Lyman family used the area as a fishing camp, drawn by the “salters” that still run this course. In 2001, the Lyman family generously donated the entire Red Brook property to ensure its protection in perpetuity.

Lyman’s legacy is preserved in the form of the 638-acre Red Brook Reserve, which is comprised of the 210-acre Trustees reservation, and the 428-acre Red Brook Wildlife Management Area, supervised by the Mass. Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. Management for the entire reserve is overseen by The Trustees, Mass DFW, and our conservation partner, Trout Unlimited.

Property Acquisition History
Gift of the Lyman family in 2001.

Programs

The Trustees of Reservations, Mass Audubon South Coast Sanctuaries and Wareham Land Trust are offering an exciting summer program for children entering grades K-5 that encourages and activates a child’s sense of curiosity and love of nature!  Each day your child(ren) will be outdoors, discovering the local ecosystems and wildlife that make up the Lyman Reserve.

There are two (2) program sessions:
 
• Monday, July 21 through Thursday July 24 | 9:30AM until 3:30PM
 
• Monday, August 18 through Thursday August 21 | 9:30AM until 3:30PM
 
This program is FREE for Wareham and Plymouth residents,
thanks to the Makepeace Neighborhood Fund
($50/day per child for all others)    
 
* Participants must wear and bring suitable clothing and footwear for outdoor activity as well as a sack lunch, sunscreen and insect repellent.  
 
Space is limited.
REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED
Please call the Lyman Reserve  at (774) 302-0779 for more information

Maps and Resources

You can find a trail map in the bulletin board in the parking area. Please understand the supplies sometimes run out. We recommend that you download a trail map before you visit.



Planning Your Visit

Travel Links
Cape Cod Visitor Information Network
Destination Plymouth

Community Links
Cape Cod Canal Chamber of Commerce
Cranberry Country Chamber of Commerce 
Plymouth Area Chamber of Commerce
Red Brook Water Level Conditions

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

Safety

About Hunting on Trustees of Reservations Land

Tell Us What You Think

We’d love to hear about your visit! Here are three easy ways to let us know what you think:

  1. Take our visitor survey. If you have a question for us, you can ask us in the survey and we’ll get back to you.

  2. Post a comment about your visit on our Facebook page.

  3. Share your experiences with other visitors on our website. Simply fill out the form below, and we’ll post your comment right here on this page.


Submitted by Becky on: August 11, 2013
We live across from the Lyman Reserve and use the beach path several times a week. My children love it! Thanks so much for putting the Where Going On a Bear Hunt story along the way. I'm a Reading Specialist at an elementary school in Plymouth, so I thought that was really cool. My kids thought it was the greatest thing ever! We also, try to pick up any litter around the area every time we go to help it stay clean. If you ever have any litter clean up days we'd love to help. Head of the Bay Road is filled with litter but we try and get rid of it around the Trustees area the best we can.



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Announcements & Alerts

Lyman Reserve is open for catch-and-release fishing only.

Upcoming Things To Do
Friday, October 31
Wicked Scary Haunted Forest

Saturday, November 1
Lyman Reserve House Tour

Saturday, December 6
Dog walk the South Coast

Other Trustees Properties You Might Like:

Holmes Reservation
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Slocum's River Reserve
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Two Mile Farm
Marshfield, MA