Park Rules

Hawksnest is a state park, supervised by the Superintendent of Nickerson State Park, Jon Peterson. The rules for state parks and state forests are summarized below.
  1. The park closes at 8 pm, from May 1 to August 31; on other dates, closing is 1/2 hour after sunset. 12.03 (1)
  2. Litter and dumping are prohibited. 12.10 (1-3) Trash barrels are not provided, so “Pack it in, pack it out!”
  3. Consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages is prohibited. 12.06
  4. Park only in designated areas. 12.23 (6k)
  5. No vehicles off the road. 12.29 (5) Specifically, ORVs, ATVs, and motorcycles are not allowed anywhere in the park. 12.29 (4a)
  6. Keep pets leashed (10 foot leash maximum) at all times. 12.08 (1) Proof of rabies vaccination is required. Note that there may be areas posted as off-limits to pets.
  7. Help us maintain a clean, healthy environment. Always clean up after your pet. Properly dispose of pet waste. 12.08 (8)
  8. No fires are allowed anywhere in the park.  12.13 (1)
  9. Cutting, defacing, or injuring trees and plants is prohibited. (Nickerson State Park rules).
  10. No glass containers on the beach. 12.32 (7)
  11. Do not use soap or shampoo in the pond. (Nickerson State Park Rules).
  12. Trails are open to any non-motorized use--such as hiking, mountain biking, or equestrian use--unless otherwise posted. 12.28 (2)
  13. Trails or other areas may be temporarily closed to public use if “continued use would be detrimental to the environment….” 12.28 (3)
  14. No camping. 12.24 (1)
  15. No use of inner tubes, air-mattresses, or other floatation devices (except Coast Guard approved pfds). 12.32 (8)
  16. Hunting is permitted (12.18 (1)), but not within 500 of any public use area such as a parking lot or beach. 12.18 (2)
  17. Target shooting is prohibited. 12.19
From 304 CMR 12.00: Forests and Parks Rules


The rules are enforced by Environmental Police, Rangers from Nickerson State Park, Harwich Police, or MA State Police.  Generally, Harwich Police do not give tickets--they just ask you to leave (unless it's something they consider serious, such as drugs).  Harwich Police generally respond to complaints within 15-30 min.  Environmental Police or Rangers may write tickets, and repeat offenders can be banned from the park. 

Other ways to respect the resource

“A number of rare plant species--including wildflowers--are dependent on the pronounced fluctuations of the water level characteristic of kettle ponds. During the summer and fall, many of these rare flowers grow at the ponds’ edges and are extremely sensitive to trampling. Hikers are urged to use the marked trails around the ponds. Please respect the natural qualities of the park.”  Nickerson State Park pamphlet

Riding on the beach: Because manure is offensive to swimmers, and can contribute to toxic algae blooms, it’s recommended that horses avoid the shore at all times. Horses can also do enormous damage to rare plants along the shore.

During pickup of litter by people who care about the park, it’s tempting to rake up debris. But a natural covering of dead leaves and pine needles favors the growth of plants, and protects the ground from erosion. Please leave the natural ground cover intact!

Dog beach: Some children and adults are afraid of dogs.  For that reason, it's recommended that dog-lovers take their dogs for a swim at the beach along the south shore of Hawksnest Pond which is closer to the park entrance.  We recommend that the beach at the end of Round Cove Road be a place where families and children can swim without conflict with dogs.  (Or, if you bring a dog there, do so before people arrive for swimming.)