Gaffield Park

68 River St, Norwell, MA 02061, USA

(781) 659-8046

Owned By: Town of Norwell

This 8-acre parcel of town-owned woodland contains large multi-activity playground structures, short trails, and a sledding hill. There are separate play structures for 0-5 year olds and 5-12 year olds, plus 5500 square feet of poured-in-place rubber surfacing for safety. Adult supervision is required at all time.

Gaffield Park is also one of many access points to Norwell’s Pathway, a 2+mile paved bike and walking trail.


The land for this park was donated to the Town of Norwell in 1896 by Maria & Thomas Gaffield, upon the condition that it “shall be kept as a Public Park for the benefit of all the inhabitants of the town and that the woods would be forever preserved.” The park was maintained annually on Arbor Day.

The land was initially transformed into a public playground in 1988, when the Norwell Chamber of Commerce undertook the project in honor of the town’s centennial. The project was funded with donations from citizens and businesses. November 11th and 12th, 1989 were declared Gaffield Park Days, to commemorate the official opening of the playground.

An additional campaign in 2003-2004 resulted in the replacement of the playground structures with more modern equipment, as well as the Friends of Gaffield Park bricks along the entryway. The Norwell Recreation Department took over the responsibility of the park in 2017. Additional upgrades occurred in 2019 and 2021.

This land is within the region of the Massachusett (or Massachuseuk) Native American tribe. For thousands of years, the land that today is known as Norwell was inhabited by indigenous people who grew crops, foraged, hunted, and fished in the Assinippi and North River areas. Circa 1617, a major outbreak of disease decimated an estimated 90% of the native population in New England, including the Massachusett and Wampanoag tribes that inhabited the South Shore. There are still descendants of these original inhabitants living here today. They are known as the Mattakeesett Tribe of the Massachusett Indian Nation , the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag, and the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe.

Trail Description

Short trails lead away from the playground area into the woods, inviting exploration. Some large glacial erratic boulders in the forest encourage imaginative play. There are also some old stone walls on the property.

Habitats and Wildlife

The playground is set in a natural bowl within a pine forest. Woodland creatures such as chipmunks and squirrels are a common sight. Watch and listen for birds in the trees. There aren’t any streams that flow through Gaffield Park, so rain and other runoff flow downhill to Second Herring Brook and the North River.

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.

68 River St, Norwell, MA 02061, USA

Historic Site: No

Park: Yes

Beach: No

Boat Launch: No

Lifeguards: No

Size: 8 acres

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: Limited on-site parking.

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Easy


Playground, picnic tables, benches, trash receptacles, informational kiosk.

Dogs: Pets are not permitted in the playground area.

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: Yes

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: Second Herring Brook (North River watershed)

Other Things to Do at This Site