202 N Main St, Cohasset, MA 02025, USA
Owned By: Town of Cohasset
Town-owned land with a 1-mile woodland trail, a skating pond, and several large glacial erratic boulders. Directly adjacent to the Barnes Wildlife Sanctuary with a shared trail network. Popular with dog walkers and for horseback riding.
Wheelwright Park directly abuts Barnes Wildlife Sanctuary and the Cohasset Boy Scout Campground. On the other side are the Cornelia & Richardson White Woods and Holly Hill Farm. Altogether, these properties represent a large swath of conservation land in the heart of this coastal town, with 232 acres of forest stretching from Jerusalem Road to Sohier Street, and from Little Harbor to Forest Avenue.
Wheelwright Park is listed in The Historical Index Survey of Architectural and Historical Assets of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt’s Works Progress Administration (WPA) constructed the ice skating pond, fireplaces, picnic sites, and over 4,000 feet of enhanced gravel paths. Much of this remains to this day.
From the parking area on North Main Street, look for the main trail, which leads uphill. This is Wheelwright Park Lane, and it extends for 1 mile to the Forest Avenue entrance. It is generally broad and flat with a moderate grade and few obstacles.
Not far up the trail, for a more varied tour, you can turn left onto the Eagle Trail, which leads through an valley characterized by tall, moss-covered rocky outcroppings and a steep grade. There is a glacial erratic here known as Eagle’s Loft. The trail continues into, and through, the Barnes Wildlife Sanctuary, and eventually across the Cohasset Boy Scout Campground before rejoining the main trail near the glacial erratic known as Big Tippling. There are a few additional trails that lead off Eagle Trail in different directions. One offers a close-up view of a radio tower. Another, an old fireplace.
About 1/3 of the way up the main trail, at the glacial erratic known as Split Rock, there is a trail to the left that leads to a small ice skating pond, where you’ll also find 2 benches. This is another way into the Barnes Wildlife Sanctuary, which is just on the other side of the pond.
A third trail into Barnes is much farther into the property, just before the glacial erratic known as Big Tippling. This is the other end of Eagle Trail.
There are some additional glacial erratics along the main trail, including Devil’s Chair and Little Tippling. There are also numerous trails to the right, which provide access to the Cornelia & Richardson White Woods and Holly Hill Farm. All trails are well marked.
Habitats and Wildlife
There is a broad grassy field near the entrance on North Main Street. The forest that makes up the remainder of the property is mostly pine and oak, plus there are numerous holly and beech trees. In season, look for lady slippers, fiddleheads, and mayflowers. The property also contains vernal pools and wetlands. There are quite a few glacial erratic boulders and rocky outcroppings scattered throughout and some old stone walls. Among the mammals observed here are coyote, fox and deer. There are also quite a few different species of birds. Most of the land here drains to Richardsons Brook, which flows into Cohasset’s Little Harbor. Some of the southern portions of the park flow into James Brook, and eventually into Cohasset Harbor.
According to the Cohasset Conservation Trust, these “undeveloped lands … contribute to the public interest by helping to maintain high water quality for Cohasset residents since much of the acreage is located in the Sohier Street Well Field Zone of Contribution.”
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 232 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: On-site parking area on North Main Street, very close to Red Gate Lane. Additional trailhead with parking for 4 cars on Forest Ave.
Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium
Picnic tables, numerous benches, trash receptacles. Informational kiosk. Ice skating pond.
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes