by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent
Do you know how many properties are now listed in the Get Outdoors section of NSRWA’s website? As 2022 drew to a close, there were 450 separate listings, with more than 150 added last year alone. We’ve been busy! If you’re looking for detailed information about local places to hike, paddle, fish, and otherwise enjoy the outdoors, you’ll definitely want to check out this tremendously valuable resource.
Every year in January, we highlight our area’s newest properties, as well as those that have been expanded or significantly updated. Keep reading to learn more about McCarthy Farm in Rockland, the Damon Preserve in Scituate, Sylvester Field in Hanover, and several others!
For 2023, we’re changing up our Explore South Shore Contest, and inviting you to get to know your local waters. Come explore and learn with us through the year to come! Each week we’ll introduce a new river, stream, pond or other waterway. We’ll highlight public places you can visit to experience those waters first-hand. And we’ll share some relevant facts. Watch for our daily posts on Facebook and Instagram.
We’ll also challenge you with a trivia question! Share your guesses by commenting on our social media feed – which are also great spots to interact with our ever-growing community of outdoors enthusiasts. Each month, we’ll gather all the correct answers, and randomly choose one lucky winner to receive a custom NSRWA prize package.
McCarthy Farm, Rockland
Rockland’s newest nature preserve! This 36-acre forest features a 0.7-mile out-and-back trail loop to the top of Rye Hill, plus old stone walls and two small ponds. The two intermittent streams on this property flow to French’s Stream, which is part of the North River watershed. On-site parking at 829 Beech Street.
Damon Preserve, Scituate
Scituate has been busy this past decade, adding and improving 4 conservation properties in its West End. The latest is the 37-acre property Damon Preserve, which features 1.2 miles of woodland trails, numerous stone walls, and glimpses of open fields. The property is located at the edge of South Swamp, which is the headwaters of three sub-watersheds: First Herring Brook, Aaron Brook, and an unnamed tributary to Bound Brook. On-site parking at 67 Clapp Road.
Foothills Preserve, Plymouth
Directly across the street from Mass Audubon’s Tidmarsh Wildlife Sanctuary, this property features 126 acres of retired cranberry bogs, slowly returning to their natural state. In addition, there are 1.5 miles of wide, flat trails, as well as bridges and small ponds, plus glimpses of Manomet Brook, a headwater to Beaver Dam Brook. On-site parking at 81 Beaver Dam Road.
Historic Sylvester Field, Hanover
After centuries of agricultural use, this beautiful and historic field in Hanover Four Corners was preserved in 2021 by the Wildlands Trust and the Town of Hanover. Five additional acres in Norwell were added in 2022. The 25-acre property features a 0.3-mile trail along the edge of the field that leads to a scenic spot on Third Herring Brook, a major tributary to the North River. This is especially relevant now that NSRWA has removed three dams upstream on Third Herring Brook. We hope to soon see brook trout and river herring returning to this waterway! On-site parking at 129 Washington Street.
Wompatuck State Park – Grove Street Entrance, Norwell
The newest access point to Wompatuck State Park! Look for the entrance diagonally across the street from the Hornstra Farm sign on Grove Street. This is a convenient access point to this 3,500-acre state park, which features 12 miles of paved bike paths, plus off-road trails for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing. It’s also a great spot for paddling and fishing! The Aaron River, part of the Gulf River watershed, is relatively close to this entrance. On-site parking at 433 Grove Street.
Cedar Crest, Duxbury
Directly adjacent to Whiton Woods, this property features over 100 acres of cranberry bogs, woodlands and wetlands, with a 2.2-mile trail network and views of Harlow Brook. It was quietly acquired by the Town of Duxbury as conservation land in 2015 (so quietly that we only recently added it to our website!). Harlow Brook flows through this property and eventually into the South River. Roadside parking at 633 Temple Street.
Gifford Bog, Duxbury
The oldest working cranberry bog in Duxbury is now conservation land! Just down the street from Cedar Crest, Gifford Bog opened to the public during the pandemic. You can walk the 0.73-mile perimeter loop trail around the bogs, and then continue for 2.3 miles through the Williams Preserve, across Temple Street. The wetlands and waterways on this property flow toward the Wright Reservoir and into the Green Harbor River. Roadside parking at 104 Temple Street.
This property opened to the public in 2020, but last year it benefited from a significant upgrade. A new 1-mile trail now leads through woods and wetlands in two intersecting loops along Poor Meadow Brook and the Shumatuscacant River. In addition, there’s water access for canoes, kayaks and anglers. On-site parking at 891 West Washington Street.
The Last Meadows, Hanson
Another expanded property in Hanson, featuring a rare glimpse of the town’s agricultural past. A wide, nearly 1-mile woodland trail leads to a large open meadow. Additional trails traverse what was once the grounds of the Plymouth County Hospital. Located within the watershed of Indian Head Brook, a tributary to the Indian Head River. On-site parking now available at 53 Pierce Avenue.
Halfway Pond Conservation Area, Plymouth
This large property just got larger! Now 550 acres with more than 6 miles of trails, this is a perfect spot to spend a few hours. Enjoy views of several ponds, hikes through pine barrens and mixed hardwood forests, plus canoeing and kayaking. Halfway Pond is the headwater of the Agawam River watershed. On-site parking on Mast Road.
Osprey Overlook Park, Weymouth
This gorgeous spot on the Back River just keeps getting better. This year, the smokestack from the old town incinerator was removed. Future improvements include the addition of a picnic area, and the expansion of the parking area and 0.6-mile, partially paved, trail system. Extend your visit at Great Esker Park next door, where there is an additional 6+ miles of trails. On-site parking at 87 Wharf Street, Weymouth.
Kezia Bacon’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to protecting our waters. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. You will also find 26+ years of Kezia’s Nature columns there. For more information about the 2023 Explore South Shore Challenge, visit www.nsrwa.org/get-outdoors/2023-explore-south-shore-challenge/