With dozens of parks and hundreds of outdoor trails, hiking on Martha’s Vineyard has something for hikers of all abilities. We have picked 7 hikes on Martha’s Vineyard for their scenery and variety of landscapes throughout the island. Spend the day hiking along the pebble beaches, trek up the hills for panoramic views, or simply get lost wandering through acres of untouched forests. With this guide to hiking Martha’s Vineyard, see a different side of the Vineyard that many visitors to the island don’t see.
Hiking Martha’s Vineyard
Hiking Martha’s Vineyard shows you the diversity of the island with its topography created during the last Ice Age – giant boulders, cliffs, marshland, woodland and beach. Before becoming a famous tourist destination, most of Martha’s Vineyard was forest and farmland. Discover why hiking is such a great thing to do on Martha’s Vineyard and escape the tourist masses for a while, even in the peak of the summer season.
Conservation Land for Public Use
There are a handful of organisations that work together to preserve land on Martha’s Vineyard. In addition to Massachusetts’ state-wide organisations like the Massachusetts Audobon Society and Trustees of Reservations, local organisations are part of the effort to promote outdoor space for the public’s use on Martha’s Vineyard.
The MV Land Bank, Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation and the Vineyard Conservation Society are local non-profit organisations who also work with managing and preserving land for the enjoyment of the public. The Vineyard Conservation Society was established to protect beautiful Lobsterville Beach from development in the 1960’s.
We find the book “Walking Trails of Martha’s Vineyard” by William Flender and published by the Vineyard Conservation Society a great guide to hikes on Martha’s Vineyard. You can buy it from Martha’s Vineyard bookstores.
Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation
Established in 1958, the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation is named after the Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary in Edgartown, its original remit. Having grown over the years, the foundation is now in charge of almost 3000 acres on the land spread across 72 nature preserves and 42 conservation restrictions in each of Martha’s Vineyard’s towns. The Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation does regular guided walks and bike rides and events.
Don’t miss the monthly storybook walk at Sheriff’s Meadow Sanctuary done by Edgartown Public Library for a fun family-friendly Martha’s Vineyard activity. The Caroline Tuthill Preserve and the Cedar Tree Neck Preserve below are two of the many Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation properties available for hiking on Martha’s Vineyard.
MV Land Bank
Set up in 1986, the MV Land Bank has approximately 4000 acres under its protection. Land Bank properties are freely open to the public for hiking on Martha’s Vineyard, except during hunting season.
The MV Land Bank does guided walks as well as an annual cross-island hike.
On National Trails Day in June, the MV Land Bank does a guided cross-island hike that runs about 20 miles where hikers on Martha’s Vineyard can do all or part of this hike. Want to do the hike on your own? Check out the MV Land Bank website which maps out the hikes from previous years.
The Christiantown Woods Preserve and Felix Neck Preserve listed below are two of the 71 MV Land Bank properties.
Elsewhere on Martha’s Vineyard
There are numerous hiking trails on Martha’s Vineyard other than those specifically mentioned below.
For example, there are a lot of hiking trails in the Manuel F. Correllus State Forest in the center of Martha’s Vineyard that is part of the Department of Conservation and Recreation of Massachusetts. The paved trails are multi-use trails suitable for families to go biking on Martha’s Vineyard.
Another lovely place for hikes is the 70 acres at the Polly Hill Arboretum in West Tisbury, a garden filled with trees and shrubs from around the world.
7 Scenic Martha’s Vineyard Hikes
If you’re eager to spend time hiking in Martha’s Vineyard, it’s a nice break from the usual beach sun and fun especially on a cloudy day. Here’s a list of the top 7 scenic hikes around the island.
Caroline Tuthill Preserve
With over 150 acres of lush forests and grassy pastures, the Caroline Tuthill Wildlife Preserve in Edgartown is a great nature hike for outdoor enthusiasts.
Although there are several trails to choose from, the most popular route is the Garret Family Trail. This path winds along the Sengekontacket Pond and through the wooded marshlands. Here, you’ll encounter blue jays, pine warblers, red-eyed vireos, and lady’s slippers.
Between the flat paved roads or steep, challenging trails, the Caroline Tuthill Wildlife Preserve is also an excellent destination for cyclists.
Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary
The Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary is very popular with families on Martha’s Vineyard with a summer camp program available. The Sanctuary is run by Massachusetts Audobon Society and the preserve next door is run by the MV Land Bank.
The Sassafras Yellow trail is a leisurely 0.5 mile walk through turtle pond and is a great place to spot frogs and turtles. The Old Farm Blue road is a wide path for families with strollers, and the Jessica Hancock Memorial Green Trail boasts beautiful views of the grasslands and bogs.
After your hike, head to the sanctuary, where you’ll learn about the different wildlife species that live around the area. Play with sea creatures in the marine life touch tank, be surrounded by butterflies in the butterfly garden, or learn about the conservation efforts of horseshoe crabs and coastal waterbirds.
Christiantown Woods Preserve
Explore more than 450 years of Martha’s Vineyard history with a trek to the Christiantown Woods Preserve run by the MV Land Bank. The entire area is tucked away in the woods of West Tisbury and was once home to three different congregations of Native Americans after they converted to Christianity.
Now, you’ll find a small chapel and graveyard dating back to 1828. Although this off-the-beaten-path destination can be hard to find, it’s one of the best Martha’s Vineyard’s hikes and should not be missed during your trip.
Cedar Tree Neck Wildlife Sanctuary
With the perfect mix of beach, woods, and coastal bluffs, Cedar Tree Neck Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the best places for hiking on Martha’s Vineyard. This hidden gem is packed with hiking trails.
Although you could easily spend the entire day exploring Cedar Tree Neck’s 400-acres, it’s worth wandering down the path that leads directly to the Vineyard Sound.
Although swimming and sunbathing aren’t allowed at the beach, it’s still a marvelous place to admire the rocky cliffs and spectacular ocean views. Or, if you are a kid, make rock piles and clamber over rocks.
Long Point Wildlife Refuge
As one of the largest public parks and best hikes on Martha’s Vineyard, Long Point Wildlife Refuge is a popular attraction for locals and visitors alike. We also consider Long Point Beach one of the best beaches on Martha’s Vineyard.
Established in 1979, Long Point Cove is run by the Trustees of Reservations. Overall, Long Point Refuge is more than 600 acres covering beach, dune and woodland so chances are you will only cover a small portion of it. Some of the rental houses nearby have easy access onto Long Point and the ponds it covers (Thumb Cove, Middle Point Cove, Long Cove Pond and Big Homer’s Pond).
If you are spending the day at Long Point Beach, consider taking a hike after lunch to explore the wildlife refuge. Covering over 600 acres, this wildlife refuge has it all – beaches, woodlands, prairies, and fantastic hiking trails. The main 2.1-mile path is relatively flat but meanders through the forests and fields before reaching the shore.
It’s also worth stopping by the neighboring Long Cove or Tisbury Great Ponds for an afternoon of kayaking or standup paddleboarding (both of which can be rented on-site). On Martha’s Vineyard, pond kayaking is a fun family activity that everyone can enjoy.
Fulling Mill Brook Reserve
The 1.4-mile loop at Fulling Mill Brook Reserve runs along a peacefully babbling brook. However, this small, 50-acre plot isn’t just for hikers. On a hot summer day you will be grateful for the plentiful tree coverage at Fulling Mill Brook Reserve.
Fulling Mill Brook Reserve caters to all types of outdoor activities, like mountain biking, bird watching, and horseback riding. Located near the Chilmark Upper Pond, Fulling Mill Brook Reserve is an untouched area of beauty guaranteed to be a pleasure when hiking Martha’s Vineyard.
Menemsha Hills Reservation
Chilmark is also home to the stunning Menemsha Hills Reservation, a sprawling 211 acre habitat with a diverse range of landscapes, run by the Trustees of the Reservation. Here, you can climb to Prospect Hill, the second-highest vantage point on the whole island, standing at 308 feet
Or, you can choose to trek through three miles of woodland, coastal plains and wetland trails, where you’ll enjoy panoramic views of dune cliffs, tide pools, and rocky shoreline. On a clear day, you should have a bird’s eye view of the Vineyard Sound and neighboring Elizabeth Islands.
While most of the trails are perfect for beginner hikers, the trek to Prospect Hill can be steep and should be reserved for intermediate hikers.
Map of Martha’s Vineyard Hikes
Here’s a map of selected Martha’s Vineyard hikes, both the 7 hikes on Martha’s Vineyard named above and other opportunities for hiking Martha’s Vineyard on other conservation land.
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