by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent

Not every nature walk has to last an hour, or require special footwear. Sometimes all you need — or have time for — is a quick excursion. From forests to meadows to rail trails and paved pathways, the South Shore abounds with opportunities for short walks, often on fully-accessible terrain.

This month’s chapter of our Explore South Shore Contest features some of the South Shore’s best spots for shorter, less challenging walks. We invite you to visit them, 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. We’ll also be featuring these spots every day on Instagram.

Keville Footbridge: This is a place I always recommend when asked for a short, accessible walk that’s also beautiful. Start at Dandelion Park in Marshfield Center, walk down the Bridle Trail and Rail Trail, which is part paved, and part crushed stone. After 0.15 miles you will reach the Francis Keville Footbridge on the South River, which offers inspiring views in every season. For more adventure, continue on the Rail Trail another 0.1 mile to Pratt Farm. Follow the staircase down to the left, and there’s another half mile of trail to explore.

James Landing Walkway: This 0.3-mile gravel walkway meanders along the edge of the marsh overlooking the Herring River in Scituate. You can access it from the Driftway Multi-purpose Path, about 0.3 miles west of Driftway Conservation Park. Extend your walk by continuing down the Driftway to 0.4-mile Herring River Trail.

Hobart Pond: This 0.3-mile paved pathway in Whitman extends between two ponds, one of which is actually a dammed section of the Shumatuscacant River, which is part of the Taunton River watershed. It’s a pretty spot for a stroll, in any season.

Duxbury Bogs: This property is large — 230 acres — but a short walk from the parking area offers a lovely view. Nearly all of the trails here are dirt roads — wide and relatively flat. The Duxbury Bogs are part of the South River watershed.

The Nook: This 17-acre property on the Jones River offers a 0.3-mile trail through the woods. The footing is not always smooth — watch for tree roots — but once you get to the edge of the marsh, the view is spectacular!

Ellis Nature Sanctuary: This small, secluded spot in Marshfield, a former cranberry bog, features a half-mile trail from the parking area through the woods and into an open meadow with a pond. The property is part of the South River watershed.

Cushman Preserve: Walk around the perimeter of this small open meadow for a quick breath of fresh air and chance to see some birds, who love the tall grasses of the seasonally-mowed field. Or take a short stroll to the Bluefish River, just down the road.

Ferry Hill Thicket: This 6-acre property has just one trail down the middle. It’s a short walk through forest, thicket and wetland. The birds love it!

Griffin Dairy Farm: Check out this former farm in Abington, with its half-mile, flat gravel walking path around a wide green field. As with much of Abington, this property is part of the Taunton River watershed.

Osprey Overlook Park: Located on the Back River in Weymouth, this park offers a partially-paved 0.6-mile loop trail and views of the river, the marsh and even some osprey nesting platforms.

Webb Memorial State Park: The 1-mile gravel loop trail at this park offers views of both the Back and Fore Rivers, plus numerous memorials. It’s one of the many spots on the South Shore that has been converted from a military installation to a park!

Canoe Club Preserve: This 20-acre parcel in Pembroke features a boardwalk trail with views of the freshwater marshes along the upper North River.

North Plymouth Rail Trail: Choose a short walk or a longer one here. There are several access points, including Nelson Memorial Park and Cordage Park. The trail is alternately paved and crushed stone. Enjoy views of the ocean, the salt marsh, open fields, and regenerating forests.

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 You will also find 25+ years of Kezia’s Nature columns there. For more information about the Explore South Shore 2021 Contest, visit