Across its 1,900 acres, Nickerson State Park offers a wealth of recreational opportunities in Brewster Massachusetts. A favorite spot in the park, though, is Cliff Pond. Whether you want a day of fun or relaxation, you can’t go wrong with a trip to Nickerson State Park Cliff Pond!
About Cliff Pond at Nickerson State Park
Situated just off Route 6A near Cape Cod Bay, Nickerson State Park has several freshwater kettle ponds and trails that wind around them. Cliff Pond is the largest pond in the park at 206 acres and has an average depth of 33 feet. This natural kettle pond is exceptionally clear and has little aquatic vegetation.
Cliff Pond Access Points
There are two main access points to Cliff Pond. If you follow Deer Park Road from the main entrance, it eventually turns into Nook Road where there’s Fisherman’s Landing and a concrete pad boat ramp. A parking area for 10 vehicles with trailers is available at the ramp.
If you prefer to head to Cliff Pond Beach, you’ll want to turn off Deer Park Road onto Flax Pond Road. You’ll see the shallow cartop access near the end of the road. It’s also near Little Cliff Pond, which has its own parking area and boat ramp.
Keep in mind that there’s a daily parking fee from mid-May through October.
Recreational Activities at Nickerson State Park Cliff Pond
As mentioned, there are plenty of recreational activities at Nickerson State Park. However, you can do a few of them specifically at Cliff Pond.
Walk the Cliff Pond Loop Trail
At 2.6 miles long, the Cliff Pond Loop wraps around the entire pond, passing several trailheads — Campground 4, Campground 6, the end of Flax Pond Road, and Fisherman’s Landing.
This moderate trail winds through dry oak and pitch pine woodlands and offers beautiful views of the water and access to a sandy shoreline. Part of the trail connects to Little Cliff Pond too.
Go for a Swim
Along the 2.6 miles of pond shoreline, much of the land is protected and undeveloped. While there’s a designated beach for swimming and playing in the water during the summer months (Cliff Pond Beach), you can wade in the water at any point around Cliff Pond. The bottom is mostly sand, while deeper areas are muddy.
Best of all, the pond is incredibly clear and has minimal vegetation. Swimming here is much like swimming in the ocean without the salty water and rough waves.
If you prefer ocean water, though, there are several beaches in Brewster.
Paddle on the Water
Because of its calm waters and large size, Cliff Pond is a popular spot for paddling. A leisurely paddle gives you a chance to enjoy the scenery from a different point of view than hiking the loop trail.
Rail Trail Bike & Kayak in Brewster is a good vendor to rent single and tandem kayaks, as well as paddleboards. You can rent by the day or week, and delivery is available.
Also, small motorized boats are allowed on Cliff Pond. Bear in mind that there’s a speed limit to avoid causing rough waters for swimmers and paddlers.
If you’re interested in trout fishing, Nickerson State Park Cliff Pond is the most heavily stocked trout water on Cape Cod. In the spring and fall, the pond is stocked with brook, brown, and rainbow trout species.
The largest trout found here was 32 inches and 19.5 pounds in 1954.
While trout is the main fish stocked in the pond, you can also find alewife, banded killifish, brown bullhead, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and yellow perch. There are small numbers of American eel and rainbow smelt too.
An American eel at 46 inches long, 10.5 inches in girth, and 8 pounds, 9 ounces was a world record catch from Cliff Pond in 1992.
Fishing from a boat is ideal because the fish tend to swim at 30 to 40 feet under the surface during the summer and early fall. You can use narrow spoons, smelt streamers, and spinners while fishing. During the rest of the year, you can catch fish at nearly any depth.
If you’re 15 or older, you’ll need to get a fishing license before heading to Cliff Pond with your pole.
More Things to Do in Nickerson State Park
While Cliff Pond is certainly a major attraction at Nickerson State Park, it’s not the only reason so many people visit throughout the year. Consider doing some of these other activities while you’re here.
Explore the Other Hiking Trails
Alongside the Cliff Pond Loop trail are several other trails in Nickerson State Park. In fact, it has more than 8 miles of trails, plus biking and equestrian trails.
Little Cliff Pond Trail
The Little Cliff Pond Trail is considered an introductory hike because it’s short at only 1.7 miles and is suitable for all ages. You can find the trailhead at the end of Flax Pond Road.
This easy loop follows the shoreline around the narrow, 33-acre pond. You’ll wind through scrub oaks and pitch pines and occasionally pass sandy beaches.
Nickerson Bike Paths
From the park entrance, more than 10 miles of paved bike paths connect to all the campgrounds and attractions in Nickerson State Park. These paths are labeled the Ober Trail, Cedar Trail, Deer Park Trail, and Ruth Pond Trail. Some of the trail routes cross park roads, so use caution at those points.
Horseback Riding Paths
This state park even has paths designated for horseback riding. They’re located in the southeast corner of the park around Higgins Pond and Eel Pond. Most of the paths are on unpaved roads.
Cape Cod Rail Trail
The trails in Nickerson State Park connect to the massive Cape Cod Rail Trail at the park entrance. The 25.5-mile paved rail trail extends from Yarmouth to Wellfleet with expansions planned in both directions. You can use the trail for walking, biking, running, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.
Have a Picnic
Do you prefer to have picnics when you visit parks? There are plenty of opportunities to do that at Nickerson. The park features picnic tables and pavilions on the north and south sides of Cliff Pond. However, you can picnic in any other open space around the park.
Restrooms are available near each picnic area.
Learn More About the Park
Often, there are park interpreters at the entrance parking lot who are more than happy to recite the history of Nickerson and its wildlife. You can learn about the Cape Cod Central Railroad and Cape Cod Branch, and there will be hands-on displays and trail maps as well.
This orientation program, and all others offered at the park, are free and open to the public.
Other Things to Do in Brewster
While Nickerson State Park Cliff Pond is a top thing to do on Cape Cod, there are many other things to do in Brewster Massachusetts. Here are some of our recommendations.
Cobb House Museum & Windmill Village
From late June to early September, The Brewster Historical Society welcomes visitors to the Cobb House Museum and Windmill Village. The Cobb House Museum is located in a 1799 home and features five galleries and a comprehensive documents research area.
Windmill Village beside Drummer Boy Park is always open to the public. The village includes the restored 1795 Higgins Farm Windmill, 1795 Harris-Black House, and 1867 Hopkins Blacksmith Shop. All of these are interesting to explore and learn about.
Stony Brook Grist Mill
The only remaining structure from the Factory Village, Brewster’s 19th-century industrial area, Stony Brook Grist Mill is a lovely place to meander. The scenic and historic mill features a sparkling brook.
During July and August, the restored mill is open on Saturdays and produces fresh cornmeal. You can get a glimpse at 19th-century life on the Cape in the upstairs museum. There are weaving demonstrations too, and you can stroll along the footpaths around the mill and mill pond.
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
Founded in 1954, the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History features two floors of exhibits that show how the land and population have changed on the Cape over thousands of years.
It has an aquarium with a remarkably diverse collection of freshwater and saltwater creatures — clams, eels, frogs, turtles, sea horses, and more. Other exhibits include archaeology, a preserved bird collection, a marshview room, and a naturescape gallery.
Butterfly House & Pollinator Path
Separate from the main building are the Butterfly House and Pollinator Path. For additional admission, you can spend some time up close and personal with various butterfly species. You can even feed the butterflies with a small sponge brush containing juice.
Gardens & Trails
Also outside of the CCMNH building are the Lyn Peabody Wildflower Gardens, which were established in 1987 by the Nauset Garden Club. You can even walk three trails — the 1.3-mile John Wing Trail to Wing Island, the 1-mile Lee Baldwin Trail, and a short Herring Run trail along Stony Brook.
Brewster Restaurants Near Cliff Pond
Whether you’re planning a picnic or grabbing a bite after a day at Nickerson State Park Cliff Pond, several restaurants in Brewster have you covered. Below are just a few of our top picks.
Fare and Just Kitchen
The entire menu at the Fare and Just Kitchen is designed for takeout, so it’s the perfect place to get food for a picnic. Everything is 100% plant-based and made in a peanut-free and gluten-free kitchen.
The menu is based on the fresh ingredients that are available at the time, so the dishes change weekly. Typically, you can choose from housemade soups, salads, and hot entrees. You can order specialty hot teas and housemade smoothies as well.
Stone L’Oven Pizza Co.
If you’re in the mood for pizza, Stone L’Oven Pizza Co. makes all-natural, hand-tossed pizzas that are baked at 500 degrees in a stone-fired oven. The restaurant has a creative selection of options, and every pizza is made to order. You can also get salads, soups, pastas, and sandwiches.
Brewster Fish House
Featuring a contemporary bistro-style menu, Brewster Fish House is a local favorite for fresh seafood. Although the menu changes with the season, you can order a range of caviar and New England seafood dishes, as well as dry-aged meats and local produce in entrees and sandwiches.
The menu includes sweet desserts, dessert cocktails, and a decent list of wine, beer, and other cocktails.
The Brewster Scoop
For a sweet treat after being out in the sun, head to The Brewster Scoop. This ice cream shop is historic and was originally opened in the Brewster General Store in 1866. The parlor is open from the Friday before Memorial Day until Labor Day.
You can order more than 30 flavors of ice cream in cones and dishes and customize your treat with at least 10 toppings. The menu includes no-sugar ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbets and sorbets, sundaes, floats, and frappes too.
Best Place to Stay Near Nickerson State Park Cliff Pond
If you plan to visit Nickerson State Park Cliff Pond during your Cape Cod getaway, stay nearby at Candleberry Inn. Our top-rated bed and breakfast is only about a 5-minute drive from the park.
We have luxury accommodations and top-notch amenities to ensure that your stay is restful before and after your Cliff Pond adventure. We even serve a fresh, homemade breakfast every morning to fuel your day ahead.
Browse our available rooms and suites when you start planning your Cape Cod vacation!