Return to Gooseberry Island

The outgoing tide left hardpacked sand along the shoreline of Gooseberry Island on an overcast morning

The forecast was for rain, so we used our strategy for #Avoidingcrowds and headed to the shore, confident we would be able to enjoy a walk outside without lots of fellow travelers. Gooseberry Island, in Westport, MA is still our favorite, and closest place to take in the scent of salt water.

Cormorants love hanging out on the rocks just offshore of Gooseberry Island

This small spit of land juts out into Long Island Sound, with views of the much more popular and well known Horseneck Beach. The parking is free, so chances are, if you go on a bright sunny day no parking spaces will be left. When we visited, however, we had our choice of spots to leave our car.

Female eider ducks, and a passing merganser rest just offshore between meals

The island has an intriguing history, at one time being a spot with private vacation homes. Remnants remain of these homes, washed away in a violent storm years ago.

Watchtower still stands near the tip of Gooseberry Island

A watch tower still stands, built during WWII to spot German subs patrolling the East Coast.

Wide, packed path bisects the island, leading to the watchtower and the tip of the island

The wide path out to the watch tower bisects the island, making for a relatively Easy Walk to the far end of the island.

Slipper Shells amidst seaweed left onshore at low tide

We like to start on the eastern shore, easier walking on this side, rather than the western side of the island, which is strewn with large cobbles I find particularly difficult to navigate. We arrived as the tide was going out, so had an easier time walking. The receding tide compacts the sand and provides more solid footing along the shoreline.

Gooseberry island on another (warmer) day

My hiking poles make walking easier, and it is still necessary to weave around large shoreline boulders, masses of compacted seaweed and slipper shells, and occasional patches of cobbles.

Gooseberry is known as a birding hotspot. It never disappoints

At low tide an additional line of rocks is revealed off the far point of the island, where birds gather in large numbers. We bring our spotting scope to better enjoy the details of the waterfowl that frequent this area.

Low tide reveals lots of craggy crevices, ideal places for wading birds to hunt for food

Clearly, the rocky ocean bottom just off shore offers plenty of food for hungry birds of many kinds. After eating a simple lunch ourselves, we headed toward Dartmouth to explore more shoreline, and came across several places we plan to explore on future visits. The Lloyd Center has trails that looked intriguing.

Mouth of the Little River, looking toward the ocean

We stopped for a few pictures at the mouth of the Little River.

Wading bird just offshore in the Little River, Dartmouth

Other spots in Dartmouth that bear further investigation included Slocomb’s River Reserve, Trustees of Reservation’s Cornell Farm, and Smith Farm.

Fortunately, another car had driven through this pond on the road (actually quite shallow) on our way to Round Hill Beach. No, we didn’t try to swim across!

We followed a long, winding road into Round Hill Beach, open exclusively to Dartmouth residents during the summer, but ungated when we visited in November. A very few others were out on this day that threatened rain, and in fact, as we stepped out onto the beach large raindrops began falling. We chose to head for home, but noted the extensive salt marsh as we drove along the beach access road. What an amazing place this promises to be for those looking to enjoy spotting birds in the area.

Nearly deserted shoreline at Round Hill Beach, as rain threatened

We look forward to returning to the area to explore, understand better the trails that are available, and enjoy time near salt water. Each visit to this area offers something new for us to enjoy. Here are some previous posts about this area:

Happy trails!


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionMore Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd editionEasy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My Liturgy of Easy Walks: Reclaiming hope in a world turned upside down.

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