You can see these rapids on the Indian Head River from the trail that runs along its Hanover side.

The new year is traditionally a time to set intentions or make plans for the months ahead. Feeling sluggish? Tired of the gym? Interested in seeing something new without traveling too far? Resolve to get outside at least once a month this year, perhaps with friends or family, and explore some of the South Shore’s open space areas. Consider this itinerary.

January: In honor of the New Year, try something different. Perhaps a place you’ve never visited before, or just an as-yet-unexplored trail. The Norris Reservation (Dover Street, off Route 123, Norwell) is a great place to start if you’re not familiar with the South Shore’s walking places. For those who have seen it all, The Gordon Pond Loop Trail at the Norris opened only recently. Check it out!

February: A brisk walk on a sunny winter day can restore energy and spirit. Try Willow Brook Farm Preserve (Route 14, Pembroke) for a long walk through forest and fields. With the leaves off the trees, you will be able to see quite a distance from the property’s observation tower.

March: Spring is on its way. Look for signs of warming weather at Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary (Winslow Cemetery Road, off Webster Street, Marshfield). Choose a mild day, or bundle up, because this former farm really feels the wind’s bluster.

April: Mid-month is when the herring start their run from the sea to their spawning grounds upstream. Visit the historic Pembroke Herring Run (Route 14, Pembroke), and you may catch a glimpse of herring on the move. Explore the giant rock, left behind by the glaciers, toward the back of the property, as well as the trails leading out to the freshwater marsh. A warm day may warrant a picnic.

May: Spring is the time to explore the trails along the Indian Head River in Hanover, when the trees are budding and the vegetation is turning green again. Start at Luddam’s Ford Park (Elm Street, off Broadway, Hanover), and walk upstream through the woods. You’ll have the choice of two trails – take the one closer to the river. You’ll find a number of different views of this narrow, swiftly moving stream, all of them unlike anything else you’ll find on the South Shore.

June: The greenest month is the time to visit Corn Hill Woodland (Corn Hill Lane and/or Union Street, North Marshfield), where the lush ferns and foliage can be jungle-like. Take your time exploring the different trails, and don’t forget to see the salt marsh.

July: Early July is when the orchids bloom at Norwell’s Black Pond Bog (Mount Blue Street). Ever wonder “What’s a quaking bog?” Here’s your chance to find out.

August: Begin or end a summer day with a walk over Duxbury’s Powder Point Bridge. Park in the lot at the inland side of the bridge and enjoy a leisurely stroll to the beach and back. If the ocean breezes don’t cool you down, stop for ice cream on the way home.

September: You could spend hours exploring Nelson Forest (Highland Street, North Marshfield). Things not to miss: the hemlock grove, the packet landing, and the views of the salt marsh, Cove Creek and the North River. Plan a route from the map in the visitor sign-in box, or just wander and see where the day takes you.

October: The pond at North Hill Marsh (Mayflower Street, Duxbury) reflects fall foliage beautifully. Choose a trail that stays close to the edge of the pond and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of autumn.

November: Not into football? A family walk might be a suitable alternative before or after the Thanksgiving meal. World’s End Reserve (Martin’s Lane, Hingham) offers numerous trails through woods and fields, plus spectacular views of Boston Harbor. Or try the windswept Rexhame Dunes (Rexhame Beach, Marshfield) and see where the North River once had its outlet to the sea.

December: As the days grow shorter, make a point to get outside for a breath of fresh air. North Marshfield’s Two Mile Reservation (Union Street) or Norwell’s Stetson Meadows Conservation Area (Stetson Shrine Lane), offer shorter, but still scenic, trails.

by Kezia Bacon Bernstein, Correspondent
December 2001

Kezia Bacon Bernstein’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, restoration, maintenance and conservation of the North and South Rivers and their watershed. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168.