by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent
We are so fortunate, here on the South Shore, to have hundreds of public parks and trails where we can enjoy nature. Beaches, ponds, and rivers,…. farms, forests, and fens,… marshes and bogs, rocky ledges and meandering streams. It can feel overwhelming, trying to decide where to explore next. This month, we’re featuring ten favorites — some of the best known, most acclaimed nature places on the South Shore. Are you familiar with all of them? Now’s the time to check them out!
Also, be sure to follow NSRWA’s Explore South Shore Contest, in which we invite you to visit some of these favorite places, and then post a photo from your adventure to Instagram with the hashtag #ExploreSouthShore. Each month we randomly select a winner from the posts to receive a prize package.
Do yourself a favor, and spend a few hours exploring World’s End in Hingham. This 251-acre jewel in the crown of South Shore nature preserves was designed in part by Frederick Law Olmsted. It features rustic cart paths and rolling green hills, bordered by Hingham Harbor and the Weir River, with majestic views of the Boston skyline. On-site parking on Martin’s Lane. Reserve your spot in advance, online. https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/worlds-end/
Who doesn’t love the Norris Reservation? Bordered on one side by the North River, and on another by Second Herring Brook, this diverse 129-acre property in Norwell features forest trails, water views, a historic boat house, and lots of old stone walls. On-site parking on Dover Street. https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/norris-reservation/
For an inspiring walk through varied terrain, consider this 2-3 hour loop. Begin at Luddam’s Ford Park in Hanover, and follow the Indian Head River Trails west along the edge of the river to Hanson, being sure to take the occasional side trails for optimal river views. Cross the river at State/Cross Street, then follow the trails through the Rocky Run Conservation Area and the Tucker Preserve, all the way to Luddam’s Ford Park in Pembroke. Cross the river again to return to your starting place. Along the way you’ll see shady groves of hemlock, mossy rock ledges, babbling brooks, enormous boulders, and so much more. Interpretive signage was recently installed at various points along the loop. On-site parking at Luddam’s Ford and on State/Cross Street. https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/indian-head-river-trails/
At the top of Captains Hill in Duxbury, a granite rendering of Myles Standish gazes out across the town. Hike a woodland trail to the monument, or — if it’s the weekend — used the paved driveway, accessible from Crescent Street. Standish was a military leader in Plymouth Colony. His spectacular view features church spires, lighthouses, Plymouth Harbor, Cape Cod and even the Blue Hills. On-site parking when the gate is open. Pedestrian access from Howland’s Landing Park, around the corner. https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/myles-standish-monument-state-reservation/
This 123-acre property in Marshfield features a loop trail through woods and wetlands and around Long Tom Pond, plus a side trail to the historic Winslow House. Some of these pathways have been employed for centuries — by the earliest European settlers, and the aboriginal tribes before them. There are historical features from a farm and cranberry bog that existed here prior, and also an intriguing trail along a narrow manmade dam at the pond’s edge. On-site parking on Careswell Street. https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/hoyt-hall-preserve/
What’s an esker? Find out here! This 237-acre Weymouth park features a long ridge of glacial rubble, extending inland along the Back River from Route 3A to Osprey Overlook Park. There are more than 6 miles of trails to explore — across the top of the esker ridge, along the marshes, and in the forests in between. On-site parking at Bridge Street, and on Elva Road. https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/great-esker-park/
This captivating and iconic spot — featured on the National Register of Historic Places — offers gorgeous ocean views and informative signage. Extend your visit by touring the neighborhood on foot, or by heading out onto the stone jetty (breakwater) behind the lighthouse, which helps provide safer boat access to Scituate Harbor. On-site parking on Lighthouse Road. https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/scituate-lighthouse/
Originally preserved for equestrians, this 824-acre Cohasset property along Brass Kettle Brook features 10 miles of woodland bridle trails and carriage roads, and connects with Wompatuck State Park, Turkey Hill, and the Whitney Spur Rail Trail. In springtime, don’t miss the Milliken Memorial Path, a “wild garden” lined with rhododendrons and azaleas created in the late 1920s. On-site parking on Chief Justice Cushing Highway (Route 3A). https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/whitney-thayer-woods/
Don’t overlook this hidden gem, located in the heart of Rockland. Throughout the 43-acre woodland, there are trails and boardwalks along French’s Stream. I strongly recommend visiting in the springtime, when the property is green, lush, and enchanting. On-site parking on North Avenue. Pedestrian access from the Thompson Pond / Twin Ponds trail network on Spruce Street. https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/george-anderson-rockland-town-forest/
Wildlife enthusiasts adore this 146-acre Mass Audubon property in Duxbury, which features a large pond surrounded by woods, plus wetlands that drain to West Brook. Combined with the adjacent Knapp Town Forest, there are over 1,000 acres of conservation land here, with numerous intersecting paths, totaling more than 5 miles of trails. Limited on-site parking on Mayflower Street. https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/north-hill-marsh/
Kezia Bacon’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to protecting our waters. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. You will also find 25+ years of Kezia’s Nature columns there. For more information about the Explore South Shore 2021 Contest, visit https://www.nsrwa.org/get-outdoors/explore-south-shore-2021-contest/