505 Ferry St, Marshfield, MA 02050, USA
Owned By: Town of Marshfield
This railroad right-of-way is now owned by the town of Marshfield. The linear parcel extends from just south of Summer Street to Ocean Street, about 3 miles, with occasional road crossings.
Beginning in 1871, a branch of what became the Old Colony Railroad traveled from Quincy to Kingston, passing through the towns of Hingham, Cohasset, Scituate, Marshfield, and Duxbury. In 1938, a hurricane severely damaged the tracks at the North River, which were subsequently removed, putting an end to rail service from that point south.
The railroad entered Marshfield at Damon's Point, traveled down today's Damon's Point Road (Marshfield Hills Station), and then along today's Summer Street and Station Street (Seaview Station). It continued along the eastern base of Carolina Hill, across Ferry Street (Center Marshfield Station), and eventually across the South River near today's downtown area (Marshfield Station). Continuing south, it crossed the Green Harbor River on Webster Street and passed into Duxbury just after the Webster Place Station. Much, but not all, of the railroad bed has been converted to trail.
The Rail Trail/Bridle Trail is part of a longer-term plan for the Town of Marshfield -- connecting all of the green spaces along the South River in the downtown area to create a South River Greenway. This would pull together Veterans Memorial Park, South River Park, Pratt Farm, the Keville Footbridge, Dandelion Park and the Rail Trail/Bridle Trail.
The 2.5-mile section of the trail between Pinehurst Road and South River Street is known as the Bridle Trail. Years ago, the Town of Marshfield declared that the trail would remain open to equestrian access in perpetuity. It extends through the woods and at the edge of farmland to the Carolina Hill Reservation.
Continuing along the base of Carolina Hill, the Bridle Trail crosses Ferry Street and soon after, also crosses Clay Pit Road and South River Street. Along the way, it skirts the boundaries of some sand & gravel pits as well as the Marshfield Fairgrounds.
Much of the Bridle Trail is wide and evenly graded. It runs along the former railroad bed and is predominantly flat, bordered primarily by woods. Some sections are narrow; here and there you need to watch your step. But for the most part it’s an easy, quiet trail through the heart of Marshfield.
In the Town Of Marshfield’s report, “Promoting Connection and Protection: A Comprehensive Trails Plan,” the Bridle Trail is likened to a “spine stitching together many of the other trail system(s), open spaces and neighborhoods,” and cited as “the most important existing trail resource in town.” Not only is it easily accessible to walkers, runners, mountain bikers and horseback riders, it provides connections among Marshfield's commercial, residential and recreational areas.
At its April 2019 Town Meeting, Marshfield approved major improvements to the Bridle Trail. It will soon be graded, widened where possible, and laid with stone dust. A variety of safety features will be added, including signs at road crossings, informational kiosks, and crosswalks.
The half-mile section of the trail between South River Street and Ocean Street is known simply as the Rail Trail. From South River Street, the trail passes along the eastern edge of Pratt Farm, a Marshfield Conservation property. A quarter mile farther, it reaches the Keville Bridge, which crosses the South River. And after another 0.15 miles, the trail terminates at Dandelion Park. Look for a kiosk directly behind the CVS on Ocean Street.Trail access at Pinehurst Road, Carolina Hill Reservation, Ferry Street, Clay Pit Road, South River Street, Pratt Farm, and Ocean Street. The Francis Keville Bridge crosses the South River and leads to Dandelion Park on Ocean Street.
The section of the Rail Trail between Dandelion Park and the Keville Bridge is ADA accessible.
Historic Site: Yes
Boat Launch: Yes
Size: 3 miles
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Park in the dirt lot beside the Bridle Trail at Ferry Street, or in Library Plaza.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Facilities: Benches. The Keville Bridge crosses the South River, offering a beautiful view. Also at Keville Bridge, there is a launch ramp and float for canoes and kayaks. Please see the listing for Keville Bridge for details.
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: Yes
Scenic Views: Yes