Forest Trails

Couch Beach

North River, Marshfield, MA 02050, United States

Marshfield Conservation: (781) 834-5573

Owned By: Town of Marshfield

Couch Beach is a 20-acre parcel of town-owned land on the North River in Marshfield, with about a half mile of forest trails, a seating area, a picnic table, and a sandy beachfront. The views here are quite lovely! While it would be a long walk (1/3 mile) to carry a canoe or kayak from the parking area to the river, this is a perfect spot to rest during a paddling excursion. It’s also a popular spot for swimming in the warmer months, and for fishing. Take care, as the river current can be strong and unpredictable! Trail access from Couch Memorial Cemetery. Stroller-friendly in some sections.

If you’re interested in camping here, consult with Marshfield Conservation about the availability of the required permit.  Blueberry Island — another popular camping and picnic spot — is just a short paddle upstream. IMPORTANT: Please “leave no trace,” and carry out all trash and waste. Careless overuse is endangering this much-loved spot!

Tide Math: High tide at Couch Beach is about 2 hours after the Boston high tide.

It’s important to know that some of our freshwater fisheries are contaminated with mercury, PFAS and/or other concerning substances. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health maintains an online database with up-to-date advisories regarding fish consumption, sorted by location. We recommend you consult this valuable resource when planning a fishing excursion.


Land access for Couch Beach requires a walk through the woods of about 1/3 mile. A wide trail leads through a pine forest to the river’s edge. Approaching the river, the land flattens and a clearing provides an ideal spot for camping.

The small sandy beach area is a lovely spot to spend a few hours on a summer day. This is an excellent location for river wading and swimming, provided you remain mindful about the current, which can be very strong, depending on the tide. Fishing is also popular here.

Couch Beach is a perennially inviting place to stop while paddling or boating on the North River, whether to stretch your legs or pause for a snack or a picnic. Small boats can anchor here, and kayaks and canoes can easily be pulled up onto the shore.

Camping by reservation for local nonprofit groups. Apply for permit at Marshfield Conservation Department. Contact Liz Anoja at or 781-834-5573. Campfire permit also required, from Fire Department.

This land is within the region of the Massachusett (or Massachuseuk). To learn more about local Native American tribes, we encourage you to interact with their members. The Massachusett tribe at Ponkapoag and the Mattakeeset band of the Massachusett share information on their websites.

Trail Description

There are two trails that lead to Couch Beach. The wider, more obvious one leads from the parking area down a long, slow decline to the river — a distance of about 1/3 mile. It tends to have scattered muddy spots and puddles after rainstorms. The narrower trail continues from Couch Beach, through the woods, to the rear of Couch Cemetery. Taken together, they make a pleasant circuit of less than a mile.

Habitats and Wildlife

This property is mostly a pine forest, with some wild blueberries to be found here and there, plus some oak and maple. Close to the North River, there is very little underbrush — just large stretches of pine needle-covered ground beneath tall trees. It’s a lovely spot.

Some of the wildlife spotted here include Canada geese, song sparrows, northern flickers, along with fox and deer.

The North River, approximately 10 miles in length, begins at the confluence of the Indian Head River (Hanover) and Herring Brook (Pembroke). From there it flows through the towns of Hanover, Pembroke, Marshfield, Norwell, and Scituate. It empties into the Atlantic Ocean between Third and Fourth Cliffs, draining approximately 59,000 acres along the way.

On flat land, rivers erode sideways, wandering back and forth instead of eroding down. Water travels faster on the outside of curves in rivers, and slower on the inside of curves. This means that the river removes material from the outside bank and deposits it on the inside bank. This is very noticeable at Couch Beach. The bank is undercut and trees that were once on solid footing seem like they are about to fall over. Meanwhile the marsh on the inside of the river curve is extensive and growing.

Especially in the spring and summer, there is a large vernal pool that crosses the main trail that leads to Couch Beach. Vernal pools are vital to the amphibian population in Massachusetts. Many different species of mammals, reptiles, and birds can be found the woodland. Some of the fish commonly found here (depending on the season and the tide) include striped bass, eels, white perch, trout, largemouth bass.

Warren Winders from Trout Unlimited offers these notes for anglers: “During the early season (June), striped bass, for instance, move back and forth in the river with the tide. Couch Beach is a nice place to wait for something to turn up. This method works best for bait anglers, but the alternative is to cast occasionally with a fly or lure while watching the water for some activity. Bass often give themselves away with a boil or swirl on the surface.”

Winders continues, “The fact that fresh and saltwater don’t always mix makes the river an interesting cornucopia of fresh and saltwater fish. I’ve seen sunfish at the Norwell canoe launch. There’s always the possibility of a trout or a largemouth bass, both species being quite tolerant of brackish water … but the largemouth bass will have to retreat before a slug of high salinity. White perch will try to avoid the striped bass and may get pushed upstream, but you never know, because, like the bass they move back and forth.”

Water temperature is a factor. Bigger striped bass are uncomfortable in water over 68. Schoolies will tolerate up to 70 and beyond. Once things warm up, Couch might be better for night fishing. In fact, if you’re camping, spending the night, it is a good idea to listen to the river. You may hear bass feeding. They can be noisy, so it’s not a bad idea to keep a rigged rod next to the tent.

The river is a dynamic system. There’s not much that stays put for long. You can look for the fish in a boat, kayak or canoe, or you can wait. At some point something will swim by if you wait long enough.

  • A photograph of a row of kayaks on a beach beside a river.
  • A photograph of a property entrance.
  • A photograph of a river with marsh and scattered trees.
  • A photograph of a marsh and a river reflecting a cloudy blue sky.
  • A photograph of a river and marsh.
  • A photograph of children playing in the water in a river.
  • A photograph of two tents in the woods beside a river.
  • A photograph of two children wading in the water on a river.
  • A photograph of a yoga class in a forest by a river.
  • A photograph of a forest with a sandy beach, on a river, viewed from the water.
  • An aerial photograph of a river with a sandy beach on one side and an island in the distance.
  • A photograph of a snow-covered forest trail.
  • A photograph of a picnic table in a forest by a river.
  • A photograph of a river with a sandy beach front, and marsh in the background.
North River, Marshfield, MA 02050, United States

Historic Site: No

Park: No

Beach: Yes

Boat Launch: No

Lifeguards: No

Size: 20 acres

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: Limited on-site parking via 629 Union Street, Marshfield. Look for the small (4 vehicles) paved parking area about 2/3 of the way into Couch Cemetery, on the right. There is a large metal gate at the trailhead. Do not park on the grass, or on any gravesite.

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Easy


Picnic table. Concrete benches create a circle around a fire pit on the upland behind the larger beach area. Fire permit required, from Marshfield Fire Department. Geocache location.

Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Please clean up after your pet!

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: No

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: North River