Bates Lane Conservation Area

188 Clapp Rd, Scituate, MA 02066, USA


Owned By: Town of Scituate

The Bates Lane Conservation Area is a 335-acre property with several miles of woodland trails. It links directly to Higgins-MacAllister Preserve. Its features include old stone walls, glacial erratic boulders, and a bridge over a babbling brook.

See posted hunting hours on site. Bear in mind that the Scituate Rod & Gun Club is nearby: visitors may hear the firing of guns.

While you’re in Scituate’s West End neighborhood, also check out the Damon Preserve, and the Crosbie Family Preserve / Appleton Field.


This land is within the region of the Massachusett (or Massachuseuk). To learn more about our local 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. 

Before 1831, this land was used primarily for agriculture. The forest that is now present probably began growing in the 1850s. Old stone walls reveal property boundaries from the past. While much of the eastern white pine that grew here a century ago was cut and sold for lumber, there are still a few very large, very old pine and beech trees along the trails.

Going back even farther in time, Teepee Rock, on the (orange) Maxwell Trail, is a 430 million-year-old outcropping of Avalon granite. An unnamed brook flows past it. This is one of the most captivating spots on the property!

Also along the Maxwell Trail, as well as the Carl Pipes Trail (blue), there are numerous glacial erratic boulders, deposited during the Wisconsin Glaciation, the most recent period of the Ice Age (10,000 years ago).

In the early 2000s, the Maxwell Conservation Trust began acquiring land in Scituate’s West End. These acquisitions enabled the town to later purchase the properties on a more favorable timeline. All of the Maxwell Trust’s land was eventually transferred to the town for conservation, thanks to Community Preservation Act funds.

Motorized vehicles are prohibited, as is the alteration of trails or other aspects of the property.

Trail Description

The parking area at the end of Bates Lane puts you in the heart of the property. You can explore trails in all directions. These are well-marked and well-maintained trails. Every important intersection is numbered, and many also feature “You Are Here” location maps. Don’t miss Boulder Valley — it is especially captivating! Seven color-coded trails form a large loop with options for shorter or longer hikes. Download the map for guidance. For a longer hike, continue to the Higgins-MacAllister Preserve, immediately adjacent, via the Carl Pipes Trail.

Some of the trails are wide and flat. Others are more narrow and rugged, with occasional climbs and descents. There is a 40-foot bridge that traverses the wetlands near Teepee Rock.

Habitats and Wildlife

The streams within the Bates Lane Conservation Area flow to Merritt Brook, which runs through the adjacent Higgins MacAllister Preserve. Merritt Brook is a headwater stream for the watershed of Bound Brook and the Aaron River. Bound Brook flows into the Gulf River, which continues to Cohasset Harbor.

There are five Certified Vernal Pools on the property — seasonal wetlands that support species such as wood frogs, spring peepers, and salamanders.

The forest is primarily pine with a healthy number of hardwoods, including beech and oak, plus some eastern hemlock. Especially along the Carl Pipes Trail, there is a substantial amount of American holly. The wetlands are composed primarily of red maple and yellow birch. At Teepee Rock, be sure to observe the Polypodiales ferns, an unusual sight in our local conservation lands.

The section of the property known as Luther’s Pit was home to a sand and gravel pit. Because excavation at this spot went deeper than the water table, this is a good place to observe a successional forest and wetlands.

Overall, the property is a mix of uplands and wetlands. In the pine forest, listen for American robins, mourning doves, northern bobwhite, and pine grosbeaks. You may also see red crossbills, ruffed grouse and turkeys. Small mammals include cottontail rabbits, gray foxes, and porcupines. Watch for deer too.

The overpopulation of deer, and their appetite for shrubs and other plant life within the Bates Lane Conservation Area, is diminishing the diversity of the woodland. This property is open to hunting during the various statewide hunting seasons. A sign at the Clapp Road trailhead outlines hunting specifications.

  • A photograph of a property sign and an unpaved parking lot.
  • A trail through a forest with fall foliage.
  • A photograph of a trail through a forest with bare trees.
  • A photograph of a blue property sign at the edge of a trail.
  • A photograph of a pine tree with a blue blaze at the edge of a trail, with fall foliage.
  • A photograph go two glacial erratic boulders, one large and one small, in a woodland setting.
  • A photograph of a trail alongside an old stone wall.
  • A photograph of a holly tree alongside a forest trail.
  • A photograph of some moss-covered boulders in a forest setting with fall foliage.
  • A photograph of a wooden bridge crossing a stream with numerous mossy rocks.
  • A photograph of a moss-covered boulder in a forest setting.
  • A photograph of Polypodiales ferns growing on a rocky outcropping with some snow and fall foliage.
  • A photograph of a simple wooden bench in a forest setting.
  • A photograph of a thick row of white birch trees with some fall foliage.
  • A photograph of a trail map posted on a tree with some fall foliage.
  • A photograph of a trail with a yellow marker.
  • A photograph of two property signs at the edge of a green field.
  • A photograph of a small white building at the edge of a road.
  • A photograph of a wooden bridge over a stream within a snowy landscape.
188 Clapp Rd, Scituate, MA 02066, USA

Historic Site: No

Park: No

Beach: No

Boat Launch: No

Lifeguards: No

Size: 335 acres

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: Limited on-site parking at the end of Bates Lane. Additional parking at the Mount Hope Improvement Society, at the corner of Cedar Street and Thomas Clapp Road, Scituate.

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium


Benches, kiosks. Geocache location.

Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash and waste must be picked up.

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: No

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: Merritt Brook (Gulf River watershed) and First Herring Brook (North River watershed)

Other Things to Do at This Site