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Forest Trails

Wharf Creek Conservation Area

(781) 834-5573

Owned By: Town of Marshfield

Two trails through an open woodland with views Wharf Creek and the Green Harbor River. Occasional old stone walls. Excellent for birders!

Features

Also known as Estes Woods, this property features a number of old stone walls within a relatively open woodland. The views Wharf Creek and the Green Harbor River are quite nice! A portion of this property was acquired by the town in 1978, with more to follow.

Some history: Ever since the Pilgrims settled in Marshfield, there have been efforts to improve the Green Harbor River’s navigability. In 1633, a canal was dug to better connect the river to the bay. In 1636, this canal was widened and deepened per order of the court.

The original mouth of the Green Harbor River, which was located on the Marshfield/Duxbury line, more than a half mile south of the present mouth, was closed by a storm in 1806. The present mouth opened in 1810, probably via the combined effects of nature and manpower.

According to Joseph C. Hagar’s Marshfield, 70’40” W, 42’5” N: The Autobiography of a Pilgrim Town, in 1806, a group of Marshfield landowners successfully petitioned the court for permission to dig a more direct canal from Green Harbor to Duxbury Bay. Known today as the Cut River, this canal flowed through the marshes and meadows behind Green Harbor Beach, and out to sea near present-day Canal Street on the Duxbury line. But soon after the canal was complete a November storm closed off its mouth completely.

An even more direct outlet was cut in 1810 – and remains to this day. While prior attempts to improve the river’s navigability had been permitted — or even decreed — by the court, this was a case of townspeople taking matters into their own hands. Hagar’s writes, “This labor was done under cover of night and about forty men were engaged in the undertaking.” (This was not an uncommon practice – similar attempts were made to improve the outlet for the North River.)

By eliminating the narrow last leg of the river, the 1810 cut dramatically increased the incoming tidal flow to the Green Harbor River. This was a boon to local fishermen, as it improved the harbor’s navigability. However the owners of farms bordering the river saw things differently. The increase in both the volume and the frequency of saltwater flooding to their lands was a big problem, as crops don’t like salt water.

So in 1871, a group of farmers petitioned the court to construct a dike, or tide gate, that would block the flow of saltwater upstream, and create more arable land. The dike was constructed in 1872, with the condition that “Should shoaling take place above the level of mean low water in the channel in consequence of dike construction, it was to be removed by the Marsh proprietors.” Shoaling did occur, and thus began the “Brant Rock Dike Feud.” Read all about it on our blog.

This land is within the region of the Wampanoag tribe.

Trail Description

There are two trails on this property. One begins at Dyke Road, across the street from the Green Harbor Marina, and leads about 1/3 mile through the woods to the Green Harbor River. There is a small stream crossing at the beginning of the trail, and then it leads into a thicket of trees and underbrush before emerging at the edge of the river.

The other trail may not be accessible at this time. It extends for about 0.4 mile from Calypso Lane to Wharf Creek. The trailhead is located between #57 and #63 Calypso Lane, but recent plantings make it challenging to access. A wide cart path enters the woods, crosses a small stream, and leads past a power easement, before narrowing and continuing through the woods to the edge of the marsh and Wharf Creek. Note:

While the two trails used to connect, they currently do not. The Dyke Road trail is narrow but flat. The Calypso Lane trail is also flat, and somewhat wider. Some sections of the trails are wet and/or overgrown.

Habitats and Wildlife

Forests of oak, elm, maple, and silver birch, with plenty of fern, greenbrier, native chokeberry and invasive bittersweet. Watch out for poison ivy! The thicket along the Dyke Road trail is an ideal place to observe birds. Species observed on this property include yellow warblers and barn swallows. There are also some wetlands on this property. Once you arrive at Wharf Creek and/or the Green Harbor River, watch for the osprey that nest up above (look for the nests on top of the utility poles). You may also spot a tern.

This property is located where Wharf Creek flows into the Green Harbor River. The Green Harbor River finds its source in springs and ponds in Duxbury. It twists and turns through Marshfield via large cranberry bog complex, the Green Harbor Golf Club, the Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary, property owned by the Marshfield Municipal Airport, and Peter Igo Park. Just downstream of the Dyke Road bridge (and dike) it flows into the Atlantic Ocean at Green Harbor.

42.081703, -70.656424

Historic Site: No

Park: No

Beach: No

Boat Launch: No

Lifeguards: No

Size: 122 acres

Hours: Dawn to Dusk

Parking: Pedestrian access from Calypso Lane, between #57 and #63, and also from Dyke Road, across the street from Green Harbor Marina.

Cost: Free

Trail Difficulty: Easy

Facilities:

Geocache location. Bench.

Dogs: Dogs must remain on leash. Scoop the poop!

Boat Ramp: No

ADA Access: No

Scenic Views: Yes

Waterbody/Watershed: Wharf Creek (Green Harbor River watershed)

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