Access to the ocean, Plymouth, Scussett Beach

Shifting Lots Preserve, Plymouth

We headed out toward Plymouth on a late summer day to see if we could find a place to walk along the shore. We had heard of Ellisville Harbor State Park, but learned once we arrived that the shoreline is actually about a one mile walk to reach the water. I will be fine walking this far in cooler weather, but despite being on the coast, which is always cooler than inland, the day was too warm for me to make this trek the day we visited. We wandered some more and stumbled across Shifting Lots Preserve, not far from Ellisville Harbor, held in trust by the Wildlands Trust, which also has a number of other conservation properties along the south shore.

Our challenge, on this warmer day, was that there is no parking allowed on the private lane that provides access to Shifting lots. That is, there is parking, set aside, but a gate denies anything but foot access from May 15 to September 15 each year. Once the summer crowds have headed home, the gate is open and visitors can easily access this intriguing shoreline area.

A tidal river seperates Shifting Lots from Ellisville Harbor State Park. Shifting lots is on the left here, the state park on the right

Shifting Lots is on the south side of a tidal river that cuts between this small property and Ellisville Harbor State Park. We spotted visitors to the state park on the opposite shoreline of the river, but the marsh area appears to prevent any easy passage between the two sections of shoreline.

Hungry birds hunting for a meal as the tide receds at Shifting Lots Preserve. Power plant in the distance

We saw plenty of birds at Shifting Lots, poking about the shoreline recently uncovered by the outgoing tide.

Sand cliffs at the shoreline offer scenic views from Shifting Lots Preserve

Just south of here are sand cliffs that offer some lovely scenic views. In the distance is a power plant, which we later figured must be the one on the south side of the Cape Cod Canal.

Just north of the Massachusetts Bay opening to the Cape Cod Canal is Scusset Beach

Shifting Lots and Ellisville Harbor are both quite close to Scussett Beach, which is where we ended up after our very short visit to Shifting Lots. Scussett Beach has a parking charge from Memorial Day through November.

Tanker headed into the Canal on an overcast, cooler summer day

We found Scussett Beach to be a great spot to have a picnic lunch, read a book, and watch boats line up to head through the Cape Cod Canal. For a late summer visit, we managed fine, and look forward to returning in cooler weather when parking is less challenging, crowds will have disappeared, and most likely we will have shoreline that is nearly deserted. 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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