One of the most popular hikes on Martha’s Vineyard is the trail at Great Rock Bight Preserve in Chilmark. Located off North Road just passed the old gas pump heading west, this Land Bank property is a great hike at any time of year. In my case I set out to explore it on a crisp November day when I had the trail and the beach all to my lonesome.
Great Rock Bight is fortuitously named because the end of the trail ends at a bight, an inwardly curved section of coastline, and, as luck would have it, it also has a great rock! The rock sits proudly in the water guarding the pretty little cove.
When arriving at the preserve the temptation is to take the shortest route to the beach and enjoy the views and the sand between your toes. But don’t be so hasty; the loop around Marl Pond is worth the extra time. The trails themselves are very easy with wide paths that wind around what feels almost park-like it has been so well looked after. Marl Pond is a vernal pond of natural acidity that is home to a multitude of wild life including the rare clam-shrimp. An interesting fact about the clam-shrimp is that it can take up to 7 years for the eggs to hatch; seems a little excessive even for the shyest of crustaceans! The pond is often skimmed with a coat of shimmering, green algae and it looks like it would feel more at home in a dark forest from a Grimms’ Fairytale.
Once you have gone past the chain of vernal ponds, head down the trail and the steps to the beach. To the left you will see large rocks and boulders randomly scattered along the shoreline as if tossed their by Moshup The Giant himself. To the right a short walk across some sand and pebbles brings you to a beautiful strip of flat sandy beach. Absolutely perfect for you to kick off your shoes and paddle out into the salty water or for those so inclined a swim out to the great rock itself.
The trail is about 3.8 miles long in total and is one of the easiest hikes to cover.
Be warned that parking is limited so try and plan to be there early in summer or head out in spring or fall.
The trailhead is about 9 miles from the Nobnocket Boutique Inn.