829 Beech St, Rockland, MA 02370, USA
Owned By: Town of Rockland
Rockland’s newest (2022) nature preserve! A 36-acre forest with old stone walls, two small ponds, and several potential vernal pools. Follow the 0.7-mile out-and-back trail loop to the top of Rye Hill. Located down the road from the Rockland Recycling Center.
The Wildlands Trust created access for, and maintains a conservation restriction on, this property, but it is owned by the Town of Rockland.
According to the Wildlands Trust, these lands were home to one of the only two remaining active farms in Rockland. “Louise McCarthy acquired the property in 1952 and maintained a small-scale working farm for many decades. Among other agricultural endeavors, the McCarthys raised chickens and cultivated various types of flowers.”
After Louise fell ill, the farm was more-or-less abandoned. Her heirs made an arrangement with a developer, but thankfully the property was enrolled in Chapter 61A, giving the town the right of first refusal. Open space advocates in Rockland successfully campaigned the town to exercise this right, and Rockland Town Meeting approved the purchase of the land in 2021. Community Preservation Act funds and a LAND grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts funded the purchase. This video tells the story of how the new conservation area came to be.
This land is within the region of the Massachuseuk (or Massachusett) Native American tribe.
From the parking area, follow the red-blazed trail into the woods, It leads uphill, skirting the edge of a small sunken (and distant) pond before arriving at a second, more visible one. The blue-blazed loop trail continues beyond the pond, with some moderate rolling hills, to the top of Rye Hill (elevation 122 feet), and down again. Altogether, the distance from, and returning to, the parking area is 0.7 miles. Along the way, you’ll see several old stone walls and the occasional glacial erratic.
Habitats and Wildlife
The woods here are relatively open and new, with oak, pine, and holly trees, plus the occasional cedar, and a beautiful grove of beech near the top of Rye Hill. There are also some wetlands.
The two intermittent streams on this property flow to French’s Stream, which is part of the North River Watershed. French’s Stream flows through Rockland and joins with the Drinkwater River at Forge Pond Park in Hanover. The Drinkwater River is one of the major sources of the Indian Head River, which joins with Herring Brook to form the North River.
There are some additional undeveloped parcels of land in this area, including a 10-acre conservation parcel in Rockland (Beech Street Conservation Land), a 30-acre former Girl Scout camp in Whitman, and an other 12-acre parcel in Whitman. Watch this space for possible future connections among these lands!
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 36 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: On-site parking lot for 8 vehicles.
Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium
Bicycle rack in parking area.
Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: French's Stream (North River watershed)