250 Driftway, Scituate, MA 02066, USA
Owned By: Widow's Walk Golf Course
Each year from January 1 to sometime in March, this public golf course opens its greens and cart paths to the public. Walkers and birders are welcome, an when there’s snow, sledding is permitted as well. The view from the higher elevations is spectacular! Stroller-friendly. Dog-friendly.
NOTE: Pedestrian access to Widow’s Walk will end for the season on Sunday, March 14, 2021. Opening Day for the golf course is slated for April 1, 2021. The Clubhouse is undergoing renovations, and will remain closed for the time being.
Widow’s Walk is a municipally owned 18-hole golf course with views of the Herring River, the North River mouth, and the Atlantic Ocean. It is located on the site of an abandoned gravel quarry. America’s first “environmental demonstration course,” it opened to much fanfare and national acclaim in 1997. In 2002 it was designated an Audubon International, Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary. This program ensures that the property continues to benefit to the environment by providing avian nesting boxes as well as habitats for numerous other species of animals. It also uses integrated pest management to apply the least amount of water, pesticides and fertilizer as possible.
Beginning in 1914, the Boston Sand and Gravel Company undertook an extensive earth removal project on this site and beyond. Colman’s Hill once stood on the inland side of today’s Driftway, from the Greenbush railroad station north to Kent Street, offering a broad view of the entire estuary. Little by little, Boston Sand and Gravel carted away the material that made up the hills — first with steam-driven sand scows, then with tugboats and barges, and later with trucks and trains. By 1963, over 14 million tons of sand and gravel were removed and the hills were gone. That year, a dramatic fire destroyed the sand & gravel company.
When Widow’s Walk was designed, the intention was to impact the environment as little as possible. The designers used the natural contours of the land, as well as the contours left by Boston Sand and Gravel, as architectural tools. As the course has matured, it continues to consider the environment first when planning its turf management practices. Thanks to both the design and the daily management it is able to use considerably less water than a typical golf course. With its many forced carries, reclaimed native grass areas, and un-irrigated rough, Widow’s Walk has only about 30 acres of irrigated turf.
Don’t miss the view from the Signature Hole, at the top of the ridge (the remains of Colman’s Hill). It is spectacular.
The public is invited to walk along the golf course’s cart paths and greens in the off-season (January 1-March 1). There are several miles of trails, both paved and unpaved. Some are flat and some offer considerable elevation.
Habitats and Wildlife
This property was a sand & gravel quarry for many years, as as a consequence, much of the native plant life was destroyed. Part of the new construction plan involved the creation of a wildlife habitat. Fortunately, this has resulted in the presence of a multitude of waterfowl and migratory and indigenous birds at Widow’s Walk (73 species by one count). Look for Tree Swallows, Purple Martins, and Eastern Bluebirds, as well as Common Flickers and Screech Owls. You may see gray squirrels, blue jays and crows gathering acorns around the oak trees. Other trees on the property include tupelo, ash, willow, sumac, birch, cedar, beech, and scrub pine.
The Widow’s Walk website offers a hole-by-hole tip sheet for birders at this link.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: On site parking.
Cost: Free for walkers, January 1 to March 1 only.
Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium
Benches. Dog waste receptacles and bags are provided.
Dogs: Dogs are welcome but must be kept under control, with no waste left behind.
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: Yes
Scenic Views: Yes