300 Leavitt St, Hingham, MA 02043, USA
Owned By: Commonwealth of Massachusetts
This alternate entrance to the 3500+ acre state park offers access for pedestrians and cyclists. There is a medium-size hill shortly up the paved trail that may present a challenge to some wheelchair and stroller users. Beyond that, the trail is relatively flat. Inside the park, there are 12+ miles of paved trails and over 40 miles of forest trails.
The park’s other access points include: Main 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 • Mt. Blue Street, Norwell
This relatively new (2014) section of Wompatuck State Park was acquired in 2004, but it took 10 years to prepare the land for public use! The 125-acre parcel housed the remains of 13 former military buildings. Friends of Wompatuck worked with state senators and representatives, as well as the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, to secure funding for the project.
The land that is now Wompatuck 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. There many rocky outcroppings and glacial erratic boulders throughout the park. Click here for a link to the park’s Main Entrance.
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”) on the site. Land was acquired from private homeowners for the purpose of expanding the Hingham Naval Ammunition Depot (now Bare Cove Park) 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 as “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 section of railroad, 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 Leavitt Street Entrance connects directly with the “NN”-marked section of the park. There is a paved trail from NN3 that connects to the Whitney Spur Rail Trail (NN13), as well as to Doane Street (N26). This entrance is excellent for bicycle access. There is a medium-size hill shortly up the paved trail that may present a challenge to some wheelchair and stroller users.
The Leavitt Street entrance also connects with numerous unpaved trails. Triphammer Pond is not far away. For an unpaved hike, look for the trail to the right just inside the gate, and follow it through the woods to NN2, NN1 and N16, where you’ll find a loop trail around the pond. This is also a good starting place for visiting the hilly forest area around N20.
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.
Habitats and Wildlife
Much of the park is undeveloped and 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, ladyslipper, 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.
This park is the site of the Burbank Boulder. This rock, a remnant of the glacial period, balances itself at three points equally distant from each other. Also, the park contains the highest point in Hingham: Prospect Hill.
Accord Brook flows through this side of Wompatuck, through Triphammer Pond, and into the Weir River. Formed at the confluence of Crooked Meadow River and Fulling Mill Brook, the Weir River flows for a mile or so north through Hingham. Farther downstream, it turns northeast and flows for another 1.4 miles, through Weir River Farm and eventually into Foundry Pond. The Weir River Estuary, designated by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as an Area of Critical Concern, begins just below the manmade dam at the pond. The mile-wide estuary forms the border between Hingham and Hull, and empties into Hingham Bay.
Many of the waterways within the park drain to the Aaron River, which 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: Not at this entrance. Use the main entrance for seasonal boat launch access.
Size: 3526 acres
Hours: Dawn to Dusk
Parking: Limited parking at the end of Leavitt Street. Parking is restricted during school days from 7am-3pm.
Trail Difficulty: Easy
At the Leavitt Street Entrance: trash receptacle, informational kiosk. Also, a short distance into the park from this entrance, just before the intersection with the Whitney Spur Rail Trail (NN13), there is a grassy area with two picnic tables.
Elsewhere in the park: Visitors Center, 400 campsites, non-motorized cartop boat ramp, paved bike paths, picnic areas, restrooms & showers, Trailer/RV hookup & dumping. Geocache location.
Dogs: Dogs must be leashed at all times. Scoop the poop!
Boat Ramp: No
ADA Access: Yes
Scenic Views: Yes
Waterbody/Watershed: Accord Brook (Weir River watershed) and Aaron River (Gulf River watershed/Cohasset Harbor)