If you’re considering a trip to Martha’s Vineyard this winter you’re likely wondering what activities are available this time of year. While the events calendar isn’t as busy as the summer months, now is the perfect time to take advantage of the natural beauty of Martha’s Vineyard. There are still plenty of ways to spend your time enjoying the landscape of the Island, from the rolling hills of Chilmark to the vast woods of the West Tisbury State Forest. If you’re an active traveler plan to bundle up and head outdoors during your stay. Here’s some ways to get your heart rate up and your stress level down during a winter stay on Martha’s Vineyard.
Hiking. One of the best ways to explore the Island is by walking one of Martha’s Vineyard many hiking trails. From wooded paths, to open field trials, to stretches along seaside cliffs, there really is a trail for everyone. The island is mostly flat meaning most trails can accommodate an easy to moderate skill level. For a hike with a spectacular pay off check out Menemsha Hills reservation in Chilmark. The three miles of trails are easily passable for the moderate hiker, with some extra energy needed to summit Prospect Hill, the second highest point on the Vineyard at 308 feet. On a clear winter day you’ll have sweeping views of the Elizabeth Islands, a chain of small islands to our north. There’s also beach access off the trail which brings you to a rock stretch of the north shore of the Island known for its interesting rock formations and collection of abandoned lobster traps. You can easily explore Menemsha Hills and any one of the Island’s with the TrailsMV app which offers maps, directions, and detailed information about each of the Island’s public trails, and can be used without wifi or cell service (something that can be spotty on-Island).
Running. If a faster pace is more your speed you’ll also enjoy the Island’s signature hiking trails for a run. For flatter, paved terrain along one of the most picturesque stretches of road consider a run from Oak Bluffs to Edgartown along Beach Road. This six mile stretch offers breathtaking views on both sides, with Nantucket Sound to your left and Sengekontacket Pond to your right. The Island’s Manuel F. Correllus State Forest is another great option for paved trails, good for running, walking, cycling, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and more. This impressive site is home to a 5300 acre forest sits in the center of Martha's Vineyard. You'll find miles of trails, a paved bike path, and a disc golf course. For additional routes and inspiration on running around town check out these helpful local guides from Great Runs.
Walking the Beach. This is a no-brainer. No matter the time of the year a walk along our shoreline is an absolute must. On nice winter days locals flock to some of the restricted summer beaches, including Lambert’s Cove Beach in West Tisbury and Lucy Vincent Beach in Chilmark. Be sure to enjoy a stroll on the sand while you can as these beaches and some others require resident passes in the summer.
Birding. Throughout the year more than 300 species of birds inhabit and frequent the Island, including the European cuckoo, Blackburnian warbler, Magnolia warbler, Baybreasted warbler, Canada warbler and the Black-throated blue warbler. One of the most magical birds to spot is the Snowy Owl, which frequents the south shoreline of the Island in the winter. Don’t be surprised to see some other amazing species still flying around this time of year while you’re out and about. During the warmer months enjoy a truly unique Guided Birding Tour with the Island’s own Robert Culbert of Nature Watch, by calling 508-560-5294.
Surfing. For the brave! Believe it or not Martha’s Vineyard has some greatsurf. Die hard surfers hit the south side of the Island at beaches like Squibnocket to catch the best terrain the Island has to offer. While the surf here is inconsistent, as it is in most of the Atlantic, when it’s spot on it can be pretty epic. Seasoned Island surfers claim that when we get a good swell it can be world class. If you’re not brave enough to ride the waves it’s still a treat to witness those that do, and it’s not uncommon to see surfers out in the middle of winter waiting for the perfect wave. If you’re up for trying head to the Green Room in Vineyard Haven where you can get hooked up with a surfboard and gear. Like any water sport be sure to be careful and well informed before heading in to the sea.
Hunting. Hunting on Martha’s Vineyard is almost as popular among locals as fishing, with deer hunting being the favorite. The deer population on Martha’s Vineyard is well into the thousands and it’s estimated there are currently about 40 deer per square mile of habitat on -Island. With no natural predators here deer hunting is an important way to control the population of deer and the harmful ticks they can carry. The archery season for deer generally takes place in October and November and the shotgun and firearm season takes place throughout December. Interested in giving it a shot? Check out the Martha’s Vineyard Rod & Gun Club to brush up on your skills.
Ice Skating. Martha’s Vineyard boasts a newly renovated ice arena for those that want to lace up and hit the ice. Skating is a fun, healthy activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family, and at only $5 for admission it’s one of the cheapest paid activities too. The Martha’s Vineyard Ice Arena in oak Bluffs offers open skating sessions as well as ice skate rentals, and ice walkers for beginners.
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