Hours: Dawn to Dusk
The spectacular Quansoo Farm was given to Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation by Florence B. “Flipper” Harris. Mrs. Harris donated the land through a series of gifts over several decades, culminating in a final bequest. With her bequest of Quansoo Farm, Mrs. Harris also left to Sheriff’s Meadow an abutting, six-acre pond lot on the Tisbury Great Pond. This lot was given so that it could be sold, and the proceeds used to create an endowment. Sheriff’s Meadow sold this lot, and a trail easement over Quansoo Farm, to the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission. The Land Bank named the lot “Quansoo Preserve,” and Quansoo Farm and Quansoo Preserve are connected via the trail depicted on the accompanying map.
Quansoo Farm lies on the great outwash plain of Chilmark. The Farm’s 146 acres of meadow, field and forest stretch to the shores of Black Point Pond to the south and Tisbury Great Pond to the east. With the Atlantic surf audible, a near-constant wind sculpts the trees of Quansoo into shapes beautiful and grotesque. Many features make this landscape distinctive: the meadows of little bluestem, the wide-open hayfields, the antique Hancock-Mitchell House, the forests of oak and hickory and shadbush and sassafras.
In the Wampanoag language, “Quansoo” means “eel,” or “long fish.” Naming this area “Quansoo” likely occurred because of the fall migration of female eels from Black Point Pond to the sea. The name also indicates that this part of Chilmark has long been important to people. As the Hancock-Mitchell house attests, Quansoo remained important once European settlement had begun. The Hancock-Mitchell House is one of the oldest houses on Martha’s Vineyard. The house was likely built here because of the rich natural resources of this area. Quansoo offers access to a wealth of eels, clams, oysters, crabs, fish and waterfowl. Also, much of the soil of Quansoo Farm is considered prime soil for farming. Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation is restoring the historic house and continuing the farming heritage of this land.
Quansoo Farm supports a variety of plants and animals. The rare northern harrier can be seen soaring over the meadows, practically hovering at times. Ospreys nest atop a pole set in the “picnic woods” to the south. Grasshopper and savannah sparrows nest on the ground in the hayfields. Grass-leaved ladies’ tresses dot the margins of the fields and rare Nantucket shadbush trees grow along dusty roadsides, amid hazelnut and sassafras. Great, spreading limbs of open-grown oaks evoke awe, and stout hickories stand ramrod straight between the oaks.
Visitors are welcome to enjoy Quansoo Farm on the perimeter loop trail created and maintained by the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank Commission. While enjoying the trail, please note that there are two residences at Quansoo Farm, and please respect the privacy of Quansoo Farm residents. The trail is open for walking, bicycling, horseback-riding and cross-country skiing year-round from dawn to dusk. Due to the presence of ground-nesting birds, no dogs are allowed from April 1 to October 1, and from October 2 through March 31, dogs are allowed but must be leashed.
At the sign on South Road marking the boundary between Chilmark and West Tisbury, travel up-island 0.5 mile to the unmarked Quansoo Road. Take a left at Quansoo Road. Follow Quansoo Road 1.4 miles to the trailhead. Be careful to bear left at the Quenames Road fork (found 0.5 mile down the Quansoo Road) and at the Black Point Road fork (found 1.1 miles down the Quansoo Road). From October 1 through May 31, additional parking is available at Quansoo Preserve.