482 North Ave, Rockland, MA 02370, USA
Owned By: Town of Rockland
Small, well-maintained woodland trail network along French’s Stream.
The George Anderson Rockland Town Forest is a natural oasis amidst a bustling suburban town. It exists largely because of the dedicated work of George Anderson, the chairman of the Rockland Town Forest Committee. For decades, Anderson and his team have developed, maintained and improved the trails, and otherwise kept the property in top shape. They have also contributed personal touches to the Town Forest. Curious stacks of rocks and stones, the occasional windchime . . . even a cleverly-placed gnome add an air of whimsy.
Originally established in 1984 with just under 20 acres, the Rockland Town Forest has now doubled in size, thanks to additional land acquisitions. It began as the North Avenue Conservation Area in 1977, and expanded with donations from the National Park Service (Naval Air Station Woods), a local developer (Salem Estates) as well as tax takings.
The trails around the stream and through the wetlands are for walking and hiking only, but the wider fire lane and access road are open to mountain bikes as well. Visitors are asked not to pick any of the plants. While most are not rare or endangered, there are a few that are uncommon within Rockland itself. Leaving them be helps to preserve them. Motorized vehicles, hunting and alcohol are prohibited.
The trails here are relatively narrow, but they are well-maintained. Some are lined with gravel; many are bordered with stones. Along the trails are a series of wooden bridges and walkways that provide access to French’s Stream and the wetlands that surround it. The effect is quite enchanting, especially in spring and summer when the trees and shrubs are in full leaf-out and the forest is a wonderland of green. It’s easy to forget that you’re in the middle of a bustling suburb. This is a great place to bring children – the trails aren’t challenging, or long, and the little treasures you might find along the way add a sense of intrigue. There is even a Designated Rock Art area! Extend your walk by exiting the rear of the property, crossing Spruce Street, and picking up the Twin Ponds Trail, for 2 additional miles of walking. In addition, the trailhead for the 2-mile Thompson Pond Trail is just down the road to the left.
Habitats and Wildlife
There is not much open space in Rockland – a few small conservation parcels, two country clubs, a park. The town very wisely chose to set aside the Town Forest for flood protection. When there is heavy wet weather, downstream portions of French’s Stream can overflow. Having some “room to grow,” in the town forest, is a good safety measure.
The forest here is made up of oak, beech, cedar, pine, as well as cherry. There is also a large stand of yew trees near the North Avenue entrance.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 43 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Enter from North Avenue for limited on-site parking. Additional parking at Thompson Pond/Twin Pond Trail Network on Spruce Street.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Picnic tables near the North Avenue parking area. Geocache location.
Dogs: Dogs must be kept on leash.
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: French's Stream (North River watershed)