by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent
Now that we’ve had our first snows of 2023, it’s time to plan some cross-country skiing. But will we have sufficient snow this winter for outdoor fun? Will the ground stay cold enough to sustain it? Warming temperatures have certainly proven problematic for local winter sports. If the trend continues and this doesn’t turn out to be a skiing year, remember that these trails are also great for walking!
Where on the South Shore could you cross-country ski? Below you’ll find a list of 15 public properties with suitable trails, from Weymouth to Plymouth. Perhaps you’ll discover a new favorite! You’ll find more than 100 such properties and trails listed in the Cross-Country Skiing section of our Get Outdoors online database.
Also, don’t miss our 2023 Explore South Shore challenge, Know Your Local Waters. Each week we introduce a new river, stream, pond or other waterway, and highlight public places you can visit to experience it first-hand. Come explore and learn with us throughout the year! Watch for daily posts on Facebook and Instagram.
Know Your Local Waters also features a weekly trivia question, with a chance to win a custom NSRWA prize package. Share your guesses by commenting on our social media feed. Each month, we’ll gather all the correct answers, and randomly choose one lucky winner.
Great Pond Trail, Weymouth
This quiet property features a 1-mile trail network through the woods and along the shore of Great Pond, with beautiful views, especially when covered with snow. Great Pond is a public water supply and a source of the Weymouth Back River. Look for the trailhead at Gifford Playground at 139 Thicket Street.
George Washington Forest, Hingham
Also known as the Hingham Town Forest, this 197-acre woodland features rolling hills and forested esker ridges, with 3 miles of varied trails, perfect for cross-country skiing. Fulling Mill Brook flows through the property, which is within the Weir River watershed. Limited roadside parking on South Pleasant Street and Charles Street.
Ames Nowell State Park, Abington
Enjoy views of Cleveland Pond in winter while exploring this 700-acre property, with 10+ miles of trails. Bordering Beaver Brook, it is part of the Taunton River watershed. Ample on-site parking on Linwood Street.
Plain Street Trails, Hanover
This unassuming town conservation area in the Drinkwater River watershed is a great spot for cross-country skiing, with about 2 miles of intersecting woodland trails. From the trailhead on Old Farm Road, pass through the power easement and into the woods. Roadside parking on Old Farm Road.
Wompatuck State Park – Grove Street Entrance, Norwell
Bring your skis and check out the newest access to Wompatuck State Park! Look for the parking area at 433 Grove Street, just east of Prospect Street. Within the 3,500-acre park, there are 12 miles of paved paths, plus numerous off-road trails. Part of the Aaron River/Gulf River watershed.
Pape Reservation, Cohasset
Enjoy snowy views of Lily Pond, Cohasset’s public water supply, while following a half-mile trail along the western shore. Limited on-site parking at the Water Treatment Plant at 339 King Street. Part of the Gulf River watershed.
Ellis Estate Trails, Scituate
This property at 709 Country Way offers an extensive trail network. Ski through the holly-filled woodlands surrounding the historic Bailey-Ellis House and Deke’s Pond. Part of the Gulf River watershed.
Couch Beach, Marshfield
You’re in for a treat! Look for the small parking area and trailhead on the right, about 2/3 of the way inside Couch Cemetery. Behind the gate, you can ski 1/3 mile down an unpaved roadway to Couch Beach on the North River, where the view is spectacular at any time of year!
Tubbs Meadow Conservation Area, Pembroke
Here you can ski along 2.7 miles of trails through the woods and around wetlands and retired cranberry bogs now returning to their natural state. Part of the Jones River watershed, this property drains to Silver Lake. On-site parking at 139 Monroe Street.
Alton J. Smith Reserve, Hanson
This retired cranberry bog complex on Indian Head Pond offers a pleasant loop trail with expansive views. Look for the sign for the Marcus Urann Fisherman’s Landing, off Route 58, near Camp Kiwanee, and follow the road through the bog to the on-site parking area. Part of the Indian Head River watershed.
Striar Conservancy, Halifax
This wooded property on Thompson Street offers a flat, 0.8-mile, out-and-back trail with views of the Winnetuxet River. A lovely, quiet spot to enjoy a winter’s day. Limited on-site parking.
Camp Nekon, Kingston
This town-owned 193-acre forested parcel used to be a Girl Scout camp. Located within the Jones River watershed, it contains several trails and hilly unpaved roadways. A great place to explore! Large parking area on Monks Hill Road.
Lapham Woods, Duxbury
This iconic stretch of woodland extends along both sides of Depot Street, offering 1.5 miles of relatively wide, flat trails through a pine forest in the Bluefish River watershed. Access and very limited roadside parking at 875 Tremont Street, or perhaps park at the Town Hall, across the street.
Foothills Preserve, Plymouth
Located at 81 Beaver Dam Road, this 126-acre property features 1.5 miles of wide, flat trails around retired cranberry bogs and a couple of stream crossings. On-site parking. Part of the Beaver Dam Brook watershed.
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 26+ years of Kezia’s Nature columns there. For more information about the 2023 Explore South Shore Challenge, visit www.nsrwa.org/get-outdoors/2023-explore-south-shore-challenge/