Grassy Walks

Alton Smith Reserve

3533+Q7 Hanson, MA, USA

Town of Hanson: (781) 294-4119

Owned By: Town of Hanson

Hanson’s Alton Smith Reserve is a retired cranberry bog surrounded by walking trails and wetlands. Also known as Smitty’s Bog, it offers car-top boat access to Indian Head Pond. Its trails are contiguous with Camp Kiwanee in Hanson, as well as Maquan Pond/Cranberry Cove, the Sleeper Conservation Area, as well as the J. J. Shepherd Memorial Forest in Pembroke. Stroller-friendly.


This retired cranberry bog sits between Maquan Pond and Indian Head Pond. Just up the road is Camp Kiwanee, a former scout camp now owned by the Town of Hanson. Right next door are the Sleeper Conservation Area (Hanson) and the J.J. Shepherd Memorial Forest (Pembroke).

Through its Wetlands Reserve Program, the Natural Resource Conservation Service provided funding for a 5-year restoration program on this property (which concluded in 2021). Various water control structures were removed to facilitate fish access and to allow the bogs to restore naturally to a forested wetland environment.

Prior to European contact, the Mattakeeset band of the Massachuseuk (or Massachusett) Native American tribe lived for thousands of years in the North River watershed. Their village included most of today’s Pembroke and Hanson. The word “Mattakeeset” means “place of many fish.”

To travel between the North River watershed and the Taunton River watershed, the Mattakeeset followed a trail that extended from today’s Indian Head Pond (adjacent to this property) to Crooker Place and today’s Indian Crossway Conservation Area, through the great Cedar Swamp (today’s Burrage Pond Wildlife Management Area), through today’s Smith-Nawazelski Conservation Area (Elm Street, Hanson) to East Bridgewater and the Taunton River watershed.

To learn more about local Native American tribes, we encourage you to interact with their members. The Mattakeeset band of the Massachusett, and the Massachusett tribe at Ponkapoag, both share information on their websites. 

Trail Description

A network of wide, flat dirt roads surrounds this former cranberry bog. Access from Indian Head Pond, at the Marcus L. Urann Fisherman’s Landing, off Route 58 (approx. 364 Indian Head Street).

For additional access, look for the stone gatehouse on Camp Kiwanee Road, which marks another trailhead. There are also some spur trails into the woods that connect to Camp Kiwanee and the J. J. Shepherd Town Forest/Pembroke Town Forest, as well as Hanson’s Sleeper Conservation Area. Some trails here are part of the larger Bay Circuit Trail, and are marked. The Bay Circuit Trail is 200 miles of linked green space from Plum Island in Newburyport to Bay Farm in Duxbury. This particular section is known as the Mattakeeseett Path.

Habitats and Wildlife

The headwaters of Indian Head Brook are located on this property. Indian Head Brook flows north from Indian Head Pond, through Wampatuck Pond and Little Cedar Swamp, into the Indian Head/Drinkwater River.

The Indian Head River forms the boundary between Hanover and Hanson, and merges with Pembroke’s Herring Brook, a short distance downstream of Ludden’s Ford Park, to form the North River at a spot called The Crotch. The North River flows 12 miles through Pembroke, Hanover, Norwell, Marshfield and Scituate, eventually making its way to Massachusetts Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

The woods surrounding the cranberry bog are primarily pine, with some birch and oak. Maple trees have begun to take over some of the bog areas. This is an excellent spot for birding. Watch for great blue heron in the wetlands.

  • A photograph of a property sign and informational kiosk next to a parking area.
  • A photograph of an entrance gate with a retired cranberry bog in the background.
  • A photograph of a trail through the woods with a Bay Circuit Trail marker.
  • A photograph of a bench at the edge of a forested ridge.
  • A photograph of birds in a meadow.
  • A photograph of an individual walking a trail.
  • A photograph of a tree with green leaves and red berries, with a retired cranberry bog in the background.
  • A photograph of a freshwater wetland and pond, with a forest in the background.
  • A photograph of a freshwater wetland, with trees in the background.
  • A photograph of a blue and white bird atop a post with a Bay Circuit Trail marker.
  • A photograph of a wide trail through a forest.
  • A photograph of trees and shrubbery with green foliage.
  • A photograph of a trail along the edge of a retired cranberry bog, with some trees to one side.
  • A photograph of a trail through a woodland.
  • A photograph of an informational kiosk beside a woodland trail.
  • A photograph of a trail leading toward a retired cranberry bog.
  • A photograph of clouds and blue sky reflecting on the surface of a pond.
  • A photograph of a trail leading through the woods toward a pond.
  • A photograph of an open snowy landscape with some trees.
3533+Q7 Hanson, MA, USA

Historic Site: No

Park: No

Beach: No

Boat Launch: Yes

Lifeguards: No

Size: 103 acres

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: Access via the Marcus Urann Fisherman's Landing at approx. 364 Indian Head Street (Route 58) in Hanson. Follow the unpaved road to the parking area. Additional access and parking at Cranberry Cove on Maquan Pond.

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Easy


Informational kiosk at Indian Head Pond. Launching ramp for cartop boats on Indian Head Pond. Geocache location.

Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!

Boat Ramp: Yes

ADA Access: No

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: Indian Head Brook (North River watershed)