26 Winthrop St, Kingston, MA 02364, USA
Owned By: Town of Kingston
The centerpiece of this 46-acre property is a retired cranberry bog, now returning to its natural state. Other features include a 0.7-mile loop trail, a pond, a level bog, and several spur trails into the forest. Sampson’s Brook, a headwater to the Jones River, finds its source in springs at the edge of the bog.
Be mindful of hunting seasons, and wear bright orange if you’re entering the property during those times.
This property was acquired by the Town of Kingston with Community Preservation funding, as well as Local Acquisitions for Natural Diversity grant funds. It was slated for development, and purchased by the town in December 2021. A generous donation from the Ruffini Trust created the parking area.
The MA Division of Ecological Restoration, Division of Fisheries & Wildlife, the Kingston Highway Department, and the Plymouth County Mosquito Control Project worked together to restore this site to a more natural state. The informational kiosk on site provides details about this fascinating process.
This land is within the region of the Wampanoag tribe. To learn more about our local tribes, we encourage you to interact with their members. The Mashpee Wampanoag and the Herring Pond Wampanoag share information on their websites.
According to signage on site, this section of Kingston is known as Blackwater, probably because of the heavily tannic water found in Atlantic white cedar swamps and bogs nearby. Many of these wetlands areas were deforested and filled in prior to the adoption of the Clean Water Act in 1972. These bogs and swamps also provided a source of bog iron, producing such items as Revolutionary War cannonballs.
Sampson’s Brook was dammed in order to create an impoundment and agricultural bog for cranberries, most recently owned by Frederick Carlson in the mid-2000’s. Some cranberry-related structures still exist on the property. The dam was removed as part of the restoration.
A loop trail extends for 0.72 miles around the bog, pond and associated wetlands. If you start to the right, after 0.13 miles, you will arrive at an intersection. Turn left to complete a short loop around the bog (0.31 mile total). Or continue straight for the full 0.72-mile loop. In addition, there are numerous spur trails that meander into the woods. Pretty much all of these end at the property’s boundaries. Some include moderate to significant hills.
Habitats and Wildlife
According to information posted on site, the centerpiece of Blackwater Forest is a rare vegetative community known as a level bog. This dwarf-shrub peatland features such shrubs as water willow and leatherleaf, which are important nectar sources for pollinators.
Protecting this area helps to keep cool water flowing, providing habitat for native eastern brook trout, long nose sucker, slimy sculpin, and rainbow smelt. The Town of Kingston hopes to see American eels and also blueback and alewife herring find their way here.
The uplands here are predominantly white pine and white oak, with the occasional beech, birch and holly. Look for white-tailed deer, gray and red squirrels, along with mice and voles. Fishers and flying squirrels may also be observed.
The variety of wetland and upland habitats makes this a great spot for birding. Bald eagles have been known to frequent the site.
Sampson’s Brook rises from springs at the edge of the bog. After flowing through Blackwater Swamp and Blackwater Pond, it joins with Halls Brook, another tributary to the Jones River.
The Jones River finds it source at Silver Lake, and extends for 7.5 miles through the town of Kingston. Follow the Jones River Watershed Association for more information.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 46 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Limited on-site parking. Look for the unpaved lot on Winthrop Street.
Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium
Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Sampson's Brook (Jones River watershed)