North River Wildlife Sanctuary

Mass Audubon's North River Wildlife Sanctuary, 2000 Main St, Marshfield, MA 02050, USA

Mass Audubon: 781-837-9400

Owned By: Mass Audubon

Mass Audubon’s 225-acre North River Wildlife Sanctuary features 2.5 miles of trails through open fields and forest, including a 0.25 mile universally accessible sensory trail. A boardwalk leads to an observation platform on the North River — one of the sanctuary’s many attractions.


This North River Wildlife Sanctuary offers several trails and boardwalks that wind through open fields and oak forest. There is also an observation platform on the North River. The property attracts many different species of animals, such as harbor seals, deer, coyotes, geese, pheasants, red tail hawks, dragonflies, butterflies, and squirrels.

In 2021, Mass Audubon worked with the Town of Marshfield to set aside an additional 13 acres of land adjacent to North River Wildlife Sanctuary. This parcel of mixed pine/oak forest includes a tributary to Hannah Eames Brook, and serves as an important buffer to neighboring wetlands to help reduce the effects of flooding and other climate change impacts. The town owns the property, as conservation land, and Mass Audubon holds a Conservation Restriction on it, which preserves the land in perpetuity.

This land is within the region of the Massachusett (or Massachuseuk). To learn more about local Native American tribes, we encourage you to interact with their members. The Mattakeeset band of the Massachusett, and the Massachusett tribe at Ponkapoag, both share information on their websites. 

Trail Description

Four trails ranging in individual length from .25 miles to .75 miles are all well-marked and easy to navigate, but exposed roots and rocks are common. There are 5 trail maps posted along the way.

• The universally accessible Fern Loop Sensory Trail trail leads through wet red maple forest, over boardwalks, and through a leafy fern glen. It is geared especially toward children.

• The River Loop Trail circles open a field, and includes two short spurs — one to a boardwalk through a wet red maple forest, and the other to an observation platform on the North River.

• The Woodland Loop Trail passes through a mixed forest featuring oak, witch hazel, and American holly, and includes a short spur to Hannah Eames Brook.

• The Hannah Eames Trail, named for an early resident, leads through a glen of lush ferns, and then through a mixed forest. Boardwalks can be slippery when wet. Strollers are welcome but may have difficulty traversing some terrain.

Habitats and Wildlife

Many birds species ranging from turkeys to woodpeckers to red tail hawks call this area home. Listen for black-capped chickadees and white-breasted nuthatches in the woods. Purple martins nest in the gourds that are hung seasonally above the meadow. Look for the peregrine nest along the way to the North River. Other bird species observed here include: yellow warbler, barn swallow, vireo, northern cardinal, red-winged blackbird, and osprey.

Chipmunks often take up residence in the stone walls. Watch for squirrels collecting acorns from the oak trees, and harbor seals frolicking in the water near the riverside platform. See if you can spot the vernal pool, along the boardwalk. At low tide, if you look down into the mud, you may also see blue mussels, which the NSRWA seeded there. Mink can sometimes be spotted at Hannah Eames Brook, as well as deer grazing in the large field. Look for butterflies and dragonflies in the fields as well; it was recently re-planted with nectar plants to encourage their presence. Trees include maple, pine oak, and Dutch elm, along with ferns and bittersweet.

Hannah Eames Brook flows through the property, emptying into Murdocks Pond, at the intersection of Prospect and Summer Streets. Macombers Creek leads from Murdocks Pond to the North River.

The North River rises from marshes and springs in Weymouth, Rockland and Hanson. It is approximately 10 miles in length, with its source 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 to the Atlantic Ocean between Third and Fourth Cliffs, draining approximately 59,000 acres along the way.

  • A photograph of a bench beside a grassy trail, with fall foliage in the background.
  • A photograph of the entrance to the North River Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield.
  • A photograph of a headquarters building and an informational kiosk, with a brick walkway at center.
  • a photograph of a boardwalk with grasses to one side and fall foliage.
  • A photograph of interpretive signage alongside a trail.
  • A photograph of a gravel trail leading into the woods.
  • A photograph of interpretive signage along a sensory trail.
  • A photograph of a play area with a wigwam.
  • A photograph of a wooden bridge over a brook in the woods.
  • A photograph of a solar panel on a green field, with interpretive signage.
  • A photograph of a stream through the woods.
  • A photograph of a bench made from a tree trunk, with a trail sign, and a stone wall and trees in the background.
  • A photograph of a trail leading across a grassy field with blue sky.
  • A photograph of a boardwalk leading across a marsh with a river in the background.
Mass Audubon's North River Wildlife Sanctuary, 2000 Main St, Marshfield, MA 02050, USA

Historic Site: No

Park: No

Beach: No

Boat Launch: No

Lifeguards: No

Size: 225 acres, with 2.5 miles of trails in total

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: On-site parking for 21 vehicles at the office building.

Cost: Free for members; small fee for non-members.

Trail Difficulty: Easy


Nature Center, with restrooms, is open Monday through Friday, 9am – 4pm. Picnic table, 4 benches, boardwalk, observation deck on North River. 2 viewing scopes for nature observation. Trash and pet waste receptacles.

Dogs: No

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: Sensory Trail is ADA accessible. The Nature Center and parking is also accessible for an audio tour. Trail signs include Braille.

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: Hannah Eames Brook and North River (North River watershed)