J. J. Shepherd Memorial Forest

JJ Shephard Memorial Forest, 451-483 Mattakeesett St, Pembroke, MA 02359, USA


Owned By: Town of Pembroke

Woodland trails bordering Indian Head Pond and the retired Andruk cranberry bog. Also a small area of wetlands. Contiguous with the Alton J. Smith Reserve and Sleeper Conservation Area in Hanson. A section of the Bay Circuit Trail extends through this property.


Arriving at this property you will only see athletic fields. Continue toward the woods past the fields to find the woodland trails of the J. J. Shepherd Memorial Forest, which was originally established in 1924. Several miles of trails lead through the forest and around wetlands. Additional trails extend around the Andruk cranberry bogs.

Hunting and firearms are prohibited.

Prior to European contact, the Mattakeeset band of the Massachuseuk (or Massachusett) Native American tribe lived for thousands of years in the North River watershed. Their village included most of today’s Pembroke and Hanson. The word “Mattakeeset” means “place of many fish.”

To travel between the North River watershed and the Taunton River watershed, the Mattakeeset followed a trail that extended from today’s Indian Head Pond (just around the corner from the JJ Shepherd Forest) to Crooker Place and today’s Indian Crossway Conservation Area, through the great Cedar Swamp (today’s Burrage Pond Wildlife Management Area), through today’s Smith-Nawazelski Conservation Area (Elm Street, Hanson) to East Bridgewater and the Taunton River watershed.

Please bear in mind that Native American cultures often favor oral histories to written ones. Much of what’s recorded about the history of the South Shore is from the perspective of European settlers. It’s not the whole story. To learn more about our local tribes, we encourage you to interact with their members. The Mattakeeset band of the Massachusett and the Massachusett tribe at Ponkapoag also share information on their websites.

Trail Description

Primary trail access is from the large on-site parking area. Additional access from an unpaved pull-off between Great Sandy Bottom Pond (across the street from the trailhead) and #365 Mattakeesett Street, or from a small parking area on Maquan Street.

This property features numerous intersecting trails through woods and wetlands, and around a retired cranberry bog. Many of the trails wide and flat, but some are narrower and more difficult. One trail offers pedestrian access to Indian Head Pond. Another trail, marked with white blazes, is part of the Bay Circuit Trail. It connects to the Alton J. Smith Reserve and the Sleeper Conservation Area in Hanson. The Bay Circuit Trail is 200 miles of linked green space from Plum Island in Newburyport to Bay Farm in Duxbury. This particular section is known as the Mattakeeseett Path.

Habitats and Wildlife

The woods at this property are mostly pine, with some oak, birch, maple, beech, sumac, and sassafras, plus ferns, greenbrier, and sweet pepper bush. Along the trail, look for small outcroppings of quartz. There is also a small wetland toward the rear of the property.

The headwaters of Indian Head Brook are located on this property. Indian Head Brook flows north from Indian Head Pond, through Wampatuck Pond and Little Cedar Swamp, into the Indian Head River.

The Indian Head River forms the boundary between Hanover and Hanson, and merges with Pembroke’s Herring Brook, a short distance downstream of Ludden’s Ford Park, to form the North River at a spot called The Crotch. The North River flows 12 miles through Pembroke, Hanover, Norwell, Marshfield and Scituate, eventually making its way to Massachusetts Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

JJ Shephard Memorial Forest, 451-483 Mattakeesett St, Pembroke, MA 02359, USA

Historic Site: No

Park: No

Beach: No

Boat Launch: No

Lifeguards: No

Size: 139 acres

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: Ample on-site parking.

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium


Porta-potties adjacent to the athletic fields. Geocache location.

Dogs: Dogs are permitted on the trails, but not on the athletic fields.

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: No

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: Indian Head Pond (North River watershed)

Other Things to Do at This Site