590 Maquan St, Hanson, MA 02341, USA
Hanson Conservation: (781) 294-4119
Owned By: Town of Hanson
A 12-acre woodland with trail connections to Hanson’s Alton J. Smith Reserve, and Pembroke’s J.J. Shepherd Memorial Forest, as well as the Bay Circuit Trail.
This property was acquired by the town of Hanson in 2022. The Wildlands Trust assisted with the conservation restriction.
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 (adjacent to this property) 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.
The Sleeper Conservation Area is situated between Hanson’s Alton J. Smith Reserve and Pembroke’s J.J. Shepherd Memorial Forest. There aren’t any property signs for it yet (2023), so you may not recognize it when you arrive. Basically, it’s a small hillside forest located between the bogs and sand pits of Alton Smith and the bogs and forest of J.J. Shepherd. There are some road-width carriage paths within the property, as well as links to both Alton Smith and J.J. Shepherd, along with the Bay Circuit Trail.
If you’re accessing Sleeper Conservation Area from Alton Smith (364 Indian Head Street/Route 58), follow the bog road from the parking area straight to the rear of the property (facing the bog, it’s the right side). Look for 2 large boulders where the trail forks. One side goes into the woods, and the other continues around the bog. Take the fork to the right (the woods), which is also the Bay Circuit Trail. After a short distance, you will see a forested area on your left, with a couple different trail connections. This is the Sleeper Conservation Area.
Additionally, there is pedestrian access to Sleeper Conservation Area from a road off Maquan Street. Please respect private property at this entrance and do not block the right of way!
After visiting Sleeper, you can continue along the same trail into Pembroke’s J.J. Shepherd Memorial Forest. A large section of the property is woods, but there is also a large expanse of retired cranberry bog land here (sometimes known as Andruk Bog). The bog area borders Sleeper on one side.
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
Sleeper Conservation Area is a pine forest with some beech, oak and birch. It helps protect the water quality of Great Sandy Bottom Pond and Furnace Pond, nearby (both are public drinking water supplies).
The headwaters of Indian Head Brook are located nearby. Indian Head Brook flows north from Indian Head Pond, through Wampatuck Pond and Little Cedar Swamp, into the Indian Head/Drinkwater 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.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 13 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Park at Alton Smith Reserve, (364 Indian Head Street/Route 58). Parking is not available at the Maquan Street entrance. Please respect private property and do not block the right of way!
Trail Difficulty: Easy
Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Indian Head Brook (North River watershed)