Project Description

12 Parks in 12 Weeks, Adventure No. 6:

Nute’s Pond
Toe Jam Hill Road

How you get there: Not easily. Possibly the island’s most remote park, Nute’s Pond keeps its quiet charms dear. Bicyclists face the challenge of Toe Jam Hill, a seemingly endless uphill grade from the Blakely side and a veritable cliff face from South Beach. There are no other parks or public turnouts nearby to leave the car and hike to the trailhead. The pond property itself has no parking. So, yes, you’ll have to think about this one. But maybe that’s okay.

Why you should go: Or should you? The paradox of sightseeing is that we inevitably leave our mark on the land (or neighborhood, community or culture), no matter how lightly we tread. Consider our wonderful national parks, preserved as wilderness but now overrun each year by more than 330 million tourists with the attendant impacts of crowds, traffic, spoilage, noise and waste. As the adage goes, “We love our favorite places to death.”

That hasn’t happened to Nute’s Pond – yet – saved for now by its sheer off-the-beaten-pathness. The 33-acre parcel on Toe Jam Hill was purchased as public open space in 2005, but remained off the grid for years until low-key amenities started filtering in. Now you’ll find a bench or two, several moderately improved loop pathways and minimal signage. It’s that rare slice of earth that still feels kind of like you’re the first one there.

The easy trail bends off into the woods and makes a few surprising forks and turns, although several side paths are blunted at neighboring parcels. The forest is unusually rich in deciduous and broadleaf trees, their jagged canopy dappling the trail on summer afternoons. Ferns and elderberry thrive in the understory. The remains of an old concrete spillway are a curiosity, rare evidence of human impact.

The centerpiece of course is the Walden-like, 11-acre freshwater pond, by surface area nearly as big as Gazzam Lake. Shore access is limited to a couple of small view clearings. The water is almost preternaturally still.

To write more would either demystify the Nute’s Pond experience or invite the trampling hordes. True, it is a public park, and an inviting one – but perhaps it’s best to be glad it’s there and leave it at that. Long-distance relationships can work, too.

Oh, and about the name: James Docter of Bean’s Bight says: “Arthur Packard Nute was my mother’s father. She reports he built the dam in the 1910s-1920, to collect water which was piped down the hill to homes on what is now Bean’s Bight, aka Poverty Flats. So, it was named after my grandfather.”

Visit Nute’s Pond (gently), post a photo or two on Instagram tagged #12in12biparks to win a prize, and get set for next week’s Bainbridge park adventure.