Grassy Walks

Ellis Nature Sanctuary

214 Plain St, Marshfield, MA 02050, USA

Owned By: Town of Marshfield

27 acres of Marshfield Conservation land with 1/2 mile of trail around a former cranberry bog, with streams that flow into the South River. May be suitable for ice skating, in season.


Samuel Baker was one of the founders of the Town of Marshfield. He received 30 acres from the town in 1659 at Mount Scargoe (now Mount Skirgo), and later acquired adjacent lands owned by John Adams and James Pitney. As the property passed down through the family, it continued to grow, eventually extending all the way to Moraine Street.

The Bakers operated a grist mill on the South River at Baker’s Pond (now Chandler’s Pond, which you can view at Pudding Hill Reservation). This was established around 1706. A second grist mill was added in 1771. In 1810, the Marshfield Cotton and Woolen Manufacturing Company established a cotton mill in a new building on the site of one of the grist mills. This was known as the Upper Mill, as the company also had a mill downstream at today’s Veterans Memorial Park, known as the Lower Mill. The land now known as the Ellis Nature Sanctuary was also part of Baker’s domain.

David P. Strange acquired the Ellis property in the early 20th century, and set up orchards there. He established his family’s farm nearby on Cross Street. Josephine Strange, the daughter of David, married Benjamin W. Ellis. Around 1938, they established their cranberry business — 4.5 acres of bogs. Their son David carried on the family business as the Old Mount Skirgo Cranberry Corporation. The Ellis Family sold the property to the Town of Marshfield in 2006, to be used as conservation land.

This land is within the region of the Massachuseuk (or Massachusett) and Wampanoag Native American tribes.

Trail Description

When seeking a quick walk in a beautiful spot, with the chance to see some wildlife, consider the Ellis Nature Preserve. This Marshfield Conservation property totals 27 acres, but the wide, flat trail — for now — is only a half mile.

Habitats and Wildlife

Watch for great blue herons in the wetlands that surround this former cranberry bog. The waters here flow to the South River.

The South River originates deep in Duxbury. Its source is in the Round Pond area, and from there it winds unobtrusively through the woods for several miles. Although one can view it from Route 3, and also from both the South River Bog and the Camp Wing Conservation Area, it remains a narrow and mostly un-navigable stream until just below Veterans Memorial Park. From there it flows through South River Park, behind the playground of South River School, and under the Willow Street and Francis Keville Bridges. Wider at that point, and navigable at most tides, its course winds through the marshes as it runs parallel to Route 139, all the way to Rexhame. From there the river turns northward. It flows for 3 miles between Humarock and the mainland to Fourth Cliff, where it joins the North River at its outlet to the sea.

214 Plain St, Marshfield, MA 02050, USA

Historic Site: No

Park: No

Beach: No

Boat Launch: No

Lifeguards: No

Size: 27 acres

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: Limited on-site parking. Look for the small parking lot down a short access road off Plain Street, near Sandy Hill Drive.

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Easy


Geocache location. Granite block that serves as a bench.

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

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: No

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: South River watershed