558 Mt Blue St, Norwell, MA 02061, USA
Owned By: Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Note: This entrance is for pedestrians and cyclists only. There is no parking available.
The Mt. Blue Entrance to Wompatuck State Park is located at the intersection of Mt. Blue and Mt. Hope Streets in Norwell. Nearby you’ll find Picture Pond and Boundary Pond, as well as numerous paved and unpaved trails.
This 3,500-acre Massachusetts state park served as the Hingham Naval Ammunition Annex from 1941 to 1965. It stretches into four towns – Hingham, Cohasset, Scituate and Norwell. The park features numerous seasonal campsites, plus fishing and non-motorized boating on the Aaron River Reservoir. There are 12 miles of paved bike paths, plus off-road trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. Stroller-friendly in some sections. There are many rocky outcroppings and glacial erratic boulders throughout the park.
Other access points include: Main Entrance, Hingham • Leavitt Street Entrance, Hingham • Triphammer Pond Conservation Area, Hingham • Whitney Spur Rail Trail, Cohasset • Whitney & Thayer Woods, Cohasset • Doane Street Entrance, Cohasset • Aaron River Reservoir and Dam, Cohasset • Brass Kettle Conservation Area, Cohasset • Prospect Street, Norwell • Grove Street, Norwell
The land at Wompatuck State Park originally belonged to Wampanoag chief Josiah Wompatuck. English settlers purchased the land from Wompatuck in 1655. In the 1700s, early settlers and ship captains held title to the area, but the land was never extensively developed. During the 1800s, families maintained woodlots and grazing lands here, and the streams powered the Stockbridge Shingle Mill. Water from Mt. Blue Spring was commercially bottled.
In 1941, the United States government established the Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot Annex (known by locals as the “Cohasset Annex”). Land was acquired from private homeowners for the purpose of expanding the Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot nearby. It remained in use until 1965, and served both World War II and the Korean Conflict.
Scattered throughout the property are over 100 decommissioned military bunkers, which were used to store ammunition. Explosives such as TNT-loaded depth charges, bombs, fuses, projectiles, and cartridges were produced and stored here. Many of these bunkers have been backfilled, but some remain exposed. There are several old military buildings on the property, as well as an abandoned railroad. Most buildings have had their roofs and windows removed, and are open to the elements.
The U.S. Navy deactivated the Cohasset Annex in 1963 and declared the land “surplus.” The Commonwealth of Massachusetts took possession of the land in 1966, and began developing it as a public park the following year. The park itself opened in 1969. Since then, 725 acres have been added.
A rail spur, the Whitney Spur, once connected the Ammunition Depot to the Old Colony Railroad’s Greenbush Line. In 2003, the DCR sold the land for the Cohasset commuter rail station and parking lot to the MBTA, in exchange for the construction of a rail trail on the former rail spur. The 1.5-mile Whitney Spur Rail Trail now connects the Cohasset MBTA station to Wompatuck State Park.
The Mt. Blue Spring is open seasonally, featuring water drawn directly from a natural aquifer. You can find it in a shed with an adjacent parking area, on Union Street in the park, between markers E14 and E1, not far from the Transfer Station area. If you’re walking in from the Mt. Blue Street Entrance, it’s about a half mile. The water is tested frequently for safety.
Within the park, there are numerous woodland trails for hiking, dog-walking, horseback riding, cycling, and cross-country skiing. For mountain bikers, the park is home to one of the longest section of switchbacked singletrack in the state. The Wompatuck Trail is ADA accessible.
The Mt. Blue Entrance connects directly with the wooded MH 1-4 trails, which lead past Picture Pond, and up & over Mount Hope.
Also nearby, a paved loop trail begins a little past Boundary Pond at S20, and extends from S14, S11, S31, and around agin to S14, probably 2.5 miles total. There are plenty of additional unpaved trails in this section of the park to explore as well!
Habitats and Wildlife
Much of the park is undeveloped and is heavily wooded. Trees include Atlantic white cedar, American holly, chestnut oak, shagbark hickory, mountain laurel, pink dogwood, white pine, American beech, and hemlock — some estimated to be 175 years old. Wildflowers and flowering shrubs also grow in abundance. Among the most common are swamp azalea, solomon’s seal, white geranium, ladies slipper, and sheep laurel.
Land and water creatures abound in the park. Common species include: muskrat, raccoon, cottontail rabbit, skunk, painted turtle, bullfrog, coyote, deer, bobcat, fisher cat, red & grey fox, yellow spotted salamander, yellow spotted turtle, box turtle, woodcock, bass, pickerel and sunfish. There are over 250 bird species in the park, including: blue jay, great blue heron, gosshawk, red tail hawk, yellow warbler, ruffed grouse, and quail. Fish commonly found in the 136-acre Aaron River Reservoir include bass, pickerel, sunfish, and perch.
The Aaron River finds its source within this section of Wompatuck State Park and flows northeast to the Aaron River Reservoir. The dam that holds the reservoir in place was constructed from 1976-1978. Below the dam, the river continues to flow through Cohasset. It joins with Brass Kettle Brook and eventually empties into the Gulf River in North Scituate. The Gulf River flows into the ocean at Cohasset Harbor.
Historic Site: No
Boat Launch: No
Size: 3526 acres
Hours: Sunrise to sunset, plus overnight camping with reservation.
Parking: No parking at this entrance. On-site parking at the Visitor Center, with additional parking within the park at the Transfer Station. Additional entrances with parking at Leavitt Street in Hingham, Doane Street in Cohasset, Grove Street in Norwell. Pedestrian access with limited roadside parking on Prospect Street in Norwell. Additional pedestrian access from the Aaron River Reservoir in Cohasset, Whitney-Thayer Woods in Cohasset, Brass Kettle Conservation Area in Cohasset, and South Pleasant Street in Hingham.
Cost: There is a fee for camping.
Trail Difficulty: Easy, Medium
Visitors Center, 400 campsites, non-motorized cartop boat ramp, paved bike paths, picnic areas, Mt. Blue Spring, restrooms & showers, Trailer/R.V. hookup & dumping. Several geocaches on site.
Dogs: Dogs must be leashed at all times. Scoop the poop!
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: No
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Aaron River (Gulf River watershed)