Travel

Go Play! Paddle Williams Pond in Wellfleet

From Gull Pond (pictured), a sluiceway leads to Higgins and Williams ponds.
Stephen Jermanok for the boston globe
From Gull Pond (pictured), a sluiceway leads to Higgins and Williams ponds.

WELLFLEET — Gaining access to the Cape’s coveted kettle ponds is always a hurdle, especially if you don’t have a town sticker that allows you to park in one of the limited spaces.

Wellfleet’s cherished swimming holes are particularly tricky if you’re not familiar with their locales. Once you’re swimming in the sublime fresh water, far from the masses at the nearby beaches, it’s worth overcoming the obstacles. At Gull Pond, you can thank Jack’s Boat Rental (jacksboatrental
.com) for giving you the means to reach three dreamy pools nestled in the hillside.

Park in the large lot, rent a canoe, and paddle across Gull Pond. On the northern end, you will find a narrow bend of water cut through the land. This sluiceway, as it’s called, was supposedly created by Native Americans to catch herring making their seasonal run. Continue into Higgins Pond, and if you have the energy, float onward to a second sluiceway.

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This leads to the placid waters of Williams Pond, a gem of a swimming hole that even has a historical bent. One of Henry David Thoreau’s favorite characters in his book “Cape Cod” is the “old Wellfleet oysterman” John Newcomb, whom he runs into at this pond.

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Rarely have I seen another person on Williams Pond, let alone an oysterman.


Take Route 6 into Wellfleet and turn right onto Gross Hill Road. A sharp left onto Gull Pond Road and Schoolhouse Hill Road will lead you to the parking lot.

STEPHEN JERMANOK