NATURE
by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent

This month the North and South Rivers Watershed Association’s “50 Places to Explore” contest, which encourages the public to visit conservation lands and other open space areas, features properties in Hingham.

Hingham has quite a number of open spaces — a number that keeps growing! In 2017 the Hingham Land Conservation Trust published an excellent map, “Parklands for the Public.” It’s available for free online, as well as on paper at the Conservation office at the Hingham Town Hall. It’s going to take me a while to visit all 77 of the nature preserves and other public lands featured on the map, so in the meantime, here’s a short list with some highlights.

Bare Cove Park

This large and versatile property is located on the Weymouth Back River. In an earlier life, it was the Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot. Leftover from its military past are numerous paved walkways, many with views of the marsh and the river. There are forests too, and grasslands, and plenty of non-paved walking trails. This is an excellent destination for those who travel by wheelchair or stroller, and also a great place to ride bikes with young children. 484 acres. Park on Bare Cove Drive or Beal Street. nsrwa.org/listing/bare-cove-park/

Foundry Pond

The pond was created in the 1700s, when the Weir River was dammed for mill power. This 32-acre property is a nice spot for a quick walk or just a breath of fresh air. Enter from Kilby Street for up-close views of the pond and river. In the spring, you may see herring making their way up the fish ladder! Enter from Weir Street for 0.77 miles of woodland walking trails. nsrwa.org/listing/foundry-pond/

Wompatuck State Park

With 3500 acres to explore, Wompatuck State Park is not a quick study. There are miles and miles of well-marked trails, both paved and natural. Download or pick up a property map so you can find your way around. On a recent hike I came across old railroad tracks with the rails and ties still intact! A great place to the start is the Visitor Center, just inside the Lazell Street entrance. nsrwa.org/listing/wompatuck-state-park/ 

Triphammer Pond Conservation Area

This lovely property in a secluded corner of Hingham directly abuts Wompatuck. It takes less than an hour to hike around the pond. In total, there are 98 acres of woods, trails and waterways. The main trail dips briefly into the state park, so if you’re in the mood for a longer walk, it’s very easy to extend your route. Parking on Popes Lane. nsrwa.org/listing/triphammer-pond-conservation-area/

Weir River Farm

Agricultural landscapes used to be so common on the South Shore, but today they are a rarity. Experience one first-hand at this 75-acre property on Turkey Hill Lane. You can follow the trail around the fields and through the woods to enjoy a variety of captivating settings. Schedule your visit when the barnyard is open if you’d like to see the livestock. nsrwa.org/listing/weir-river-farm/

Turkey Hill

Continue past Weir River Farm to the end of Turkey Hill Lane and treat yourself to an expansive view of the Boston skyline and the Harbor Islands. This former military site is now conservation land. It provides a convenient link between Weir River Farm and Whitney & Thayer Woods. If you prefer to arrive at Turkey Hill on foot, instead of by car, park in the designated lot on Route 3A and follow the trail to the top. nsrwa.org/listing/turkey-hill/

Whitney & Thayer Woods

This 824-acre woodland straddles the Cohasset-Hingham town line. Along with Weir River Farm, Turkey Hill, Wompatuck and Triphammer, it represents an enormous (for the South Shore) contiguous greenspace, and provides vital habitat for numerous animals and plants that might not otherwise be able to withstand suburban life. Park on Route 3A in Cohasset, across from Stop & Shop Plaza. nsrwa.org/listing/whitney-thayer-woods/

Jacobs Meadow

Wide open fields stretch are the most remarkable feature of this 50-acre property, which is bordered by groves of cedar and beech, plus pine & oak forests, and two loop trails. Fulling Mill Brook flows along the eastern edge. On the weekends, you can access the trails directly behind the Wilder Memorial Building (666 Main Street). When preschool is in session, enter through the Lehner Conservation Area, immediately adjacent. nsrwa.org/listing/jacobs-meadow/

Lehner Conservation Area

Hingham’s newest conservation area offers wide open fields and a loop trail through woods and wetlands, plus old stone walls and up-close views of a winding forest stream. A trail through the woods links the 56-acre property on South Pleasant Street links to Jacobs Meadow. nsrwa.org/listing/lehner-conservation-area/

Stodder’s Neck

Looking for a great place to walk your dog? Try Stodder’s Neck! This 23-acre peninsula along the Weymouth Back River features a 0.7-mile trail along the water. Look for the large parking area on Route 3A, near the Weymouth line. nsrwa.org/listing/stodders-neck/

World’s End

A jewel in the crown of South Shore nature preserves, this 251-acre parcel was designed in part by Frederick Law Olmsted. Rolling hills and granite ledges bordered by Hingham Harbor and the Weir River, with majestic views of the Boston skyline and 4.5 miles of carriage paths and trails. Parking area on Martin’s Lane. nsrwa.org/listing/worlds-end/

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 20+ years of Kezia’s Nature columns there. For more information about the 50 Places to Explore Contest,” visit https://www.nsrwa.org/get-outdoors/enter-the-nsrwa-50-places-to-explore-contest/