Thanks to this year’s South Shore Quests booklet, I’ve discovered a new place for nature walks – Great Brewster Woods & Dean’s Meadow, in Cohasset. My son and I checked it out in mid-July, along with two other moms and their boys.
The 26-acre property is located at the end of Great Brewster Trail, off Highland Avenue, a few steps from the Cohasset Town Common. Eighteen acres of the land were donated to the town in 1985 by the Great Brewster Corporation, followed by another seven, in 1992, by Helen Dean. The trailhead is nestled right up against private residential property, so visitors are encouraged to be conscientious of the neighbors and remain on the trail. Additional parking is available at the Cohasset Town Hall and in the town parking area behind the Village Shops.
Rock ledges are one of the most interesting features of Great Brewster Woods. You encounter one as soon as you arrive. The small (2-3 cars) parking area directly abuts a tall rock face, suitable for careful climbing. After passing by a few houses, the trail meanders through the woods and eventually tilts downhill. Soon after crossing a small stream, it arrives at a junction. If you take the side path, up to the left, it will lead you onto a ledge that overlooks the Mohawk salt marsh and Little Harbor. Leafy trees obscure the view in the summertime, but it’s more clear during the winter and spring.
Altogether the trail runs for a single mile – but it’s an interesting mile, and well worth your time! The Cohasset Conservation Trust has created a handy Trail Guide for Great Brewster Woods, offering abundant detail regarding its trees and shrubs, and highlighting various other features, such as historic stone walls, mini tree-like Lycodpodium mosses, and Rock Tripe lichen growing on a shady ledge. Need help discerning a White Oak from a Red Oak? The Trail Guide points out the difference. It also identifies less-known trees such as Black Tupelo, American Hophornbeam and Mockernut Hickory, and shrubs of Sweet Pepperbush, Common Witch Hazel, and Highbush Blueberry.
Continuing downhill along the main trail, you’ll pass through a gap in a stone wall and enter Dean’s Meadow. In this flatter section of the property, there are groves of holly, American Beech, and juniper (all identified by the trail guide). After the trail begins to climb again, you may see Sassafras, and pudding stone, as it loops back around. Eventually, it leads you back to where you began.
Although they each have their own charm, some of our local nature preserves can be less-than-inspiring. Around here, we’re quite familiar with White Pine! So a diverse parcel like Great Brewster Woods – especially with Trail Guide in hand —  can be a refreshing change of pace.
For information about Great Brewster Woods and the Cohasset Conservation Trust, visit its website,, or “like” it on Facebook.
A Quest is a series of clues, designed for children, to help them better experience our local parks and conservation areas, through self-guided exploration. For more information about local Quests, visit 
by Kezia Bacon
July 2015
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 19 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit