Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Encompassing nearly 90 acres of primarily pitch pine forest, West Chop Woods is located in the West Chop section of Tisbury, less than a mile and a half from downtown Vineyard Haven. A bike rack and small parking area off Franklin Street provide access to over one-and-a-half miles of marked walking trails. The main trail is part of an old cartpath known as Lighthouse Road, which once connected Vineyard Haven with the lighthouse at West Chop. Lighthouse Road is now marked as the red trail and has been expanded to make a loop at the north end. Another old road, designated the blue trail, runs between Franklin Street and Main Street, near the southern boundary of the property. Two additional trails wind through the woods, connecting the blue trail with the red trail and making it possible to walk several loops of varying lengths.
In the spring there are impressive numbers of spectacular pink lady-slippers, especially near the junction of the blue and yellow trails. Other easily recognizable flowering plants include two small evergreens: trailing arbutus (mayflower) and wintergreen, which has bright red berries during the fall and winter. A few ghostly white Indian pipes, which have lost the ability to photosynthesize their own food and now depend on decaying organic matter in the soil, can also be seen along the trail, while the ubiquitous bracken fern is present throughout. Common birds include pine warblers, blue jays, chickadees, nuthatch, great crested flycatchers and towhees (chewinks). Screech owls are also present, though rarely seen, as well as an occasional white-tailed deer.
There is a bike rack at the Preserve entrance on the west side of Main Street, about 1 1/4 miles from Vineyard Haven as you head towards West Chop. A small parking lot accommodating two or three cars is located at the Franklin Street entrance. From downtown Vineyard Haven, head towards West Chop on Main Street. After about a quarter mile, turn left onto Greenwood Street which is immediately after the Vineyard Haven Public Library, and continue about 1/16 mile to a stop sign at the intersection with Franklin Street. Turn right on Franklin Street; the parking area is about three-quarters of a mile on the right hand side, down a narrow dirt road marked by a West Chop Woods sign.