Autumn vegetation at Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield.

Every fall, it seems that someone asks me about the best places to take a walk on the South Shore. We have so many! Each town has numerous conservation parcels, large and small.

Even after writing this column for more than 15 years, I have yet to visit them all. Why? Because I have my favorites — the places I return to time and again, the ones that offer a lengthy circuit trail and a view of the water.

Give me the choice of catching up with a friend over coffee or on the trail, and I’ll choose the latter every time. Walks in the woods invite good conversation. Plus you get a healthy dose of Vitamin D and the satisfaction of having ambled for an hour or two through a place of beauty.

Six weeks into autumn, the leaves have begun to turn. I find myself relishing this last burst of color, and bracing for the inevitable drab of winter. Already the sun seems weaker. It’s time to get out and enjoy our local conservation parcels before the ice and snow begin.

Here’s a list of my favorites, in no particular order. Perhaps I’ll see you out there!

Nelson Memorial Forest / Phillips Farm Preserve / Union Street Woodland: One of my favorite autumn walking places, this expansive set of properties offers views of both the North River and Cove Creek, access to the salt marsh and plenty of wide walking trails. Combined acreage: 211. You’ll find parking and a trailhead on Union Street in Marshfield, between Short Street and Hunter Drive.

The Norris Reservation: A perennial favorite, this 129-acre parcel features an old mill pond, a restored boat house overlooking the North River, boardwalks, trails both narrow and wide, and close-up views of Second Herring Brook. Managed by the Trustees of Reservation, the Norris offers a large parking area on Dover Street in Norwell, across from the post office.

Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary: This Mass Audubon property includes a total of 507 acres, made up of both meadow and woods. Also known as Dwyer Farm, this sanctuary, located at the end of Winslow Cemetery Road in Marshfield, includes wildlife observation blinds, boardwalks and bridges, trails through both woods and grasslands, and views of the Green Harbor River.

World’s End: If you’ve never been to this jewel in the crown of South Shore open spaces, do yourself a favor and visit this 251-acre property on Martin’s Lane in Hingham, managed by the Trustees of Reservations. Featuring rolling hills, rocky shores, and spectacular views of Boston Harbor, the Weir River, Hingham, and Hull, the narrow trails and tree-lined carriage paths of World’s End are a treat at any time of year.

Indian Head River Conservation Area / Luddams Ford Park / Tucker Preserve: Beginning at Luddams Ford Park in Hanover, you’ll find a former railroad bed that has been converted to a walking trail, portions of which run along the banks of the Indian Head River. On the other side is the 78-acre Tucker Preserve. If you’re in the mood for a long walk, you can go up one side and down the other, but check the map because the twists and turns aren’t always easy to navigate. Park on either side of the river: Elm Street in Hanover, or West Elm Street in Pembroke.

Willow Brook Farm Preserve: My favorite feature of this 73-acre property in Pembroke is the observation tower. Climb to the top and peer out over the Herring Brook Valley, and the wetlands at the confluence of Pudding and Herring Brooks. How to find it? Follow the woodland trails and old farm roads to the rear of the property. Parking is available via a small lot on Barker Street (Route 14) in Pembroke.

Do you have your own favorites? Please shoot me an email at and tell me which conservation parcels I should explore next!

by Kezia Bacon-Bernstein, Correspondent
October 2011

Kezia Bacon-Bernstein’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 15 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit