Forest Trails

Phillips Sanctuary and Firehouse Loop

Owned By: Town of Hanover

55 acres of Hanover Conservation land, comprised of the Morrill Allen Phillips Sanctuary and the Merry Conservation parcel. Features 1.6 miles of intersecting, well-marked forest paths plus the occasional boardwalk and footbridge. A pleasant walk in the woods!


Directly behind the Fire Station Museum is 11 acres of land known as the Merry Property. Trails connect it to the larger Morrill Allen Phillips Wildlife Sanctuary. Stone walls indicate this property’s agricultural past.

According to Barbara Barker’s “Focus on History,” the Phillips family, whose home was on Broadway, constructed Hanover’s first tennis court in this area in the late 1890s. First it was a grass court, situated east to west, and later it was a clay court, oriented north to south.

This land is within the region of the Massachusett (or Massachuseuk). To learn more about our 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

From the Firehouse Museum, the entrance trail leads across a footbridge to an extended forest loop with several spurs to private properties. Another entrance, with access to the same loop, begins at the end of Alden Road, where you’ll find signage for the Morrill Allen Phillips Sanctuary. The 1.6 miles of trails are mostly wide and easy to navigate. Many are marked with red or green blazes.

Habitats and Wildlife

Look for white tailed deer, coyotes, raccoons, garter snakes, and other creatures common to a pine woodland. A variety of birds call this parcel home. An unnamed brook runs through this property and eventually flows into the Indian Head River south of Broadway.

According to Hanover Conservation, the brook that flows through this property was identified as Iron Mine Brook on an 1848 map and retained that name going forward … but then lost its name entirely in 1976, when a different brook (formerly known as Trout Brook), a short distance east, took over the name. To this day, the brook on this property bears no name. Both brooks flow into the Indian Head River. This can be cause for confusion, especially when reading history books.

This property is located within the watershed of the Indian Head River. The Indian Head River rises from the Drinkwater River and Factory Pond in West Hanover. It 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.

42.097793, -70.848298

Historic Site: No

Park: No

Beach: No

Boat Launch: No

Lifeguards: No

Size: 55 acres

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: Access and parking at Alden Road and at the Fire Station Museum on Broadway.

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Easy



Dogs: Yes

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: No

Scenic Views: Yes

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

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