Spring can be a time of reawakening, recharging and renewing: time to reevaluate exercise goals and get in shape before summer.
Walking is an enjoyable and easy way to get moving. You cannot pass a magazine rack without seeing headlines extolling the values of walking. We are fortunate in that the Vineyard features a number of trails of varying degrees of intensity.
Trails offer respite from the hectic day-to-day concerns. They’re a chance to get out and enjoy the Island at its unspoiled best: a good pair of walking shoes and you’re off.
As Phyllis Kugler, director of fitness at the Workout Center says, “Walking is a nice way to get started on exercise, because health and fitness is so important. It is a beginning way to start to get healthy and fit by using your own body and just walking. It is enjoyable at the same time, because you could do it outside and see nature . . . or inside on a treadmill and listen to some nice music or watch television.”
Pam Lindgren, a registered nurse at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital Cardio-Rehab Center, concurs.
“Walking is the simplest, easiest and cheapest form of exercise, she said. “You can do it any time, any place, anywhere.”
She stresses that it is best to begin with moderation, gradually building up the time and distance walked.
When the topic of trails is brought up, almost every Vineyarder has a favorite — maybe Sepiessa, Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary or Cedar Tree Neck. Some shorter walks such as Sheriff’s Meadow, the origin of the Foundation, near the heart of Edgartown, are feasible on a lunch hour.
The trails enable the hiker to choose a pace comfortable for the individual walker, from slow meandering to a quicker tempo. Most of the trails owned or managed by conservation groups feature signs giving distance, terrain which may be encountered along with a tick warning or other needed precautions.
James Lengyel, executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank, gave his thoughts on three trails representing different degrees of difficulty ranging from easy to a bit more arduous.
An ambitious trail is in Chilmark, starting at Fulling Mill Brook, concluding at Great Rock Bight. There is a bus route at either end, making it easy to get there.
The mid-range is Blackwater Pond Reservation. The trail starts off Lambert’s Cove Road, by Duarte’s pond, and leading to a cranberry bog. Mr. Lengyel said there was a breach, so a little bridge was built along the path. When you sit on the bridge, one side is the pond and the other is open water. Continue from there to Wompesket before returning back to the starting point.
The easy trail is Pecoy Pond in Oak Bluffs. Mr. Lengyel said, “Within 16 acres, you get every type of natural landscape on Martha’s Vineyard. It has grasslands, woodlands, swamp, pond and the beach out on Sengekontacket Pond with excellent views.”
The Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission (508-627-7141), The Trustees of Reservations (508-693-7662) and the Vineyard Conservation Society (508-693-9588) each sponsor a series of guided walks throughout the year, often on property that is not always publicly accessible at other times.
Most of the walks are offered free of charge although might require pre-registration. In any case, they are well worth the effort. Why not call The Trustees now to sign up for their guided walk around Squibnocket this Sunday?
According to Brendan O’Neill, executive director of the Vineyard Conservation Society, the organization has been sponsoring the Winter Walks series for more than 40 years.
The trails can be addicting. The more you discover, the more you want to explore. Each excursion yields hidden treasures.
Bob Mill of the Trustees pointed out that each of their property trails, including the popular Menemsha Hills and Long Point, has three loops. “Large maps are posted at the beginning along with a description of the property and at each juncture along the way, signs saying the distance and the estimated time it will take to do the next loop,” he said.
Each trek requires a different level of exertion, so you can choose your route. Asked for his take on the appeal of the trails, Mr. Mill said it was easy to answer: “For Menemsha Hills, you go through so many different kinds of terrain and scenery — it never gets boring . . . You never know what’s around the next corner, so it is an interesting walk.
“On Chappaquiddick [where there are several trails], the big draw is the ocean; you can hear it and see it.”
Long Point is also set up with loop trails, although it is more flat, with vistas and salt marshes. The path leading over a sand plain is generally flat and takes you more through woods. The water is visible over the sand dunes.
The Trustees of Reservations offers some popular fee-based guided tours in the summer at Long Point and on Chappaquiddick. Check their Web site, thetrustees.org, for more information.
Several books have been published about Vineyard trails including, Will Flender’s very informative book, Walking Trails of Martha’s Vineyard, which with its detailed location directions can be an invaluable resource. Organizations, including the land bank, The Trustees of Reservations or Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation (508-693-5207) can supply more information on trail locations and terrain.
So grab those shoes and explore the Vineyard.