by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent

We are fortunate, here on the South Shore, to have access to an abundance of nature preserves. Chances are, if walking in the woods is the type of thing you enjoy, you’re already familiar with World’s End in Hingham and the Norris Reservation in Norwell, local favorites that are both managed by The Trustees. You probably know the Mass Audubon properties too – Daniel Webster and North River Wildlife Sanctuaries, both in Marshfield.

What follows is a list of a few other lesser-known properties worthy of your attention. All are open to the public, generally from dawn until dusk. Before you go, visit the manager’s website to download a trail map.

  • Hoyt-Hall Preserve – Careswell Street/Route 139, Marshfield. This recently-opened preserve features several walking trails around Long Tom Pond and through 123 acres of woods, freshwater marsh and red cedar swamp, with links to the Old Colony Railroad and the Historic Winslow House. Managed by The Wildlands Trust.
  • Rockland Town Forest – North Avenue, Rockland. A small (39.5 acres) but truly special place to stretch one’s legs, the Rockland Town Forest’s narrow paths, boardwalks and bridges lead visitors through the wetlands that surround French Stream. This place is especially enchanting in the spring and summer when the trees and shrubs are leafy and green.
  • North Hill Marsh – Mayflower Street, Duxbury. A network of walking trails through pine and oak woodlands takes you all the way around the freshwater marsh and reservoir, with plenty of interesting vantage points. These 943 acres, managed by Mass Audubon and Duxbury Conservation, are prime territory for birding and other wildlife observation.
  • Wildcat Conservation Area – Circuit Street, Norwell. Over 100 quiet acres, with trails through the woods, and the occasional bench on which to pause and reflect. The narrow trails lead you past old stone walls and along historic Wildcat Hill. Managed by Norwell Conservation.
  • Weir River Farm and Turkey Hill – Turkey Hill Lane, Hingham. Catch a glimpse of the agricultural landscape of days past on these 75 hilltop acres. The view of Boston Harbor is stunning. Plus there are pastures, woodland trails, and a working barnyard, with additional trails that link to Whitney & Thayer Woods. Managed by The Trustees.
  • Bates Lane Conservation Area – Clapp Road, Scituate. This property and its surroundings comprise over 400 acres of contiguous conservation land in the West End of Scituate, most of it former farmland. A network of well-marked and well-tended trails leads through the woods, past glacial erratics and across small streams. Managed by Scituate Conservation.
  • Lansing Bennett Forest – Union Bridge Road, Duxbury. This historic property was once home to a sawmill and later a trout farm. Today it is 344 acres of mostly wooded upland, with glacial erratics and kettle holes, plus boardwalks that traverse the red cedar swamp that borders Phillips Brook. Managed by Duxbury Conservation.


Kezia Bacon’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit To browse 20 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit