by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent

At NSRWA, we have been working steadily behind the scenes, expanding the Get Outdoors section of our website. It now features 300 detailed listings of local places to hike, paddle, fish, and otherwise enjoy the outdoors! In 2021, we added 47 properties from Braintree to Brockton to Plymouth. See below for a selection of new places to explore this year. Before you go, visit our website for trail maps, parking info, and other essentials.

This year we also refined the search options for Get Outdoors. There are now 8 additional categories to connect you quickly with the experiences you seek. Looking for a playground, a dog park, or a place to cross-country ski? Or perhaps a picnic area, paved trail, or a spot to shoot some nature photos? We can help!

In 2022, we’re changing up our Explore South Shore Contest. This year, instead of places to visit, we’re suggesting outdoor activities to try. Each week we will announce a new Explore South Shore challenge and suggest places where you can go to complete the challenge. January is a time of new beginnings, so this month we’ll encourage you to visit a place that’s unfamiliar to you, try a new nature activity, take your dog someplace different, learn something, and read a river book. That ought to keep you busy!

Monatiquot River Walk in Braintree

We’ll be featuring a relevant property every day in January on Instagram and Facebook. Are you up for a challenge? Post photos from your adventures to Instagram with the hashtag #ExploreSouthShore. Each month we randomly select a winner from the posts to receive a prize package.

Monatiquot River Walk, Braintree: This 1-mile pathway extends from Smith Beach in Braintree, along the Monatiquot River through Watson Park, then across the Fore River to the Weymouth Landing Access Ramp. Combining crushed stone and pavement, it offers numerous river views, plus opportunities for quiet contemplation in the otherwise bustling Weymouth Landing neighborhood.

King Oak Hill Park, Weymouth: This 24-acre hilltop park on Emery Lane features a 0.25-mile paved walking loop, a shade pavilion, and views of the Boston Skyline. Looking for something else in Weymouth? Consider Great Hill Park for more skyline views, Weston Park for a combined stroll and library visit, or Lovell Field for a different paved loop, in Jackson Square.

Whortleberry Hollow in Hingham

Whortleberry Hollow, Hingham: How about a quick walk in the woods before or after your shopping trip? This 13-acre woodland parcel is just around the corner from Derby Street, on Cushing Street. The 0.4-mile trail is not only conveniently located, it features a gorgeous grove of beech trees!

Leavitt Street Entrance – Wompatuck, Hingham: – Located at the end of Leavitt Street, this alternate entrance to the 3,500-acre state park features paved trails plus access to plenty of unpaved ones, including a loop around Triphammer Pond. Please note that parking is restricted on school days from 7-3, to accommodate a school bus turnaround.

Wheelwright Park and the Barnes Wildlife Sanctuary, Cohasset: The town of Cohasset is home to quite a few nature preserves, and we’ll be featuring them all in an article later this year. These two share a trail system, and are located side by side on North Main Street, with a total of 232 acres. Enjoy a long forest walk plus views of several glacial erratic boulders. Also nearby: Great Brewster Woods.

Brass Kettle Conservation Area and the Pape Reservation, Cohasset: Also located side by side, these two properties on King Street feature views of Brass Kettle Brook and Lily Pond, plus trail access to Wompatuck State Park and Whitney & Thayer Woods. Totaling 131 acres, this is a lovely destination for a serene walk in the woods! Also nearby: George Ingram Park.

Brockton Audubon Preserve, Brockton: Donated to the Wildlands Trust by the now-defunct Brockton Audubon Society, this 126-acre woodland is located on the Brockton-Easton town line. It features boardwalks, old stone walls, and one very large glacial erratic. Limited on-site parking on Pleasant Street.

Striar Conservancy in Halifax

Striar Conservancy, Halifax: Another Wildlands Trust property, this 168-acre woodland features a meandering 1.4-mile trail, plus views of the Winnetuxet River. Limited on-site parking on Thompson Street (Route 105).

Williams Preserve, Duxbury: Birders will especially enjoy this newly-opened parcel off Church Street (Route 139). A 3-mile network of woodland trails offers views of wetlands, cranberry bogs, and the secluded Wright Reservoir. Limited on-site parking on Frontage Road.

Cranberry Watershed Preserve, Kingston: We added numerous Kingston properties to our website this year. These sprawling 240-acres feature several miles of walking trails through woodlands and wetlands. Limited on-site parking on Lake Street, just down the road from Silver Lake High School. Looking for something smaller but still woodsy? Visit Kingston’s Patuxet Park, off Route 3A.

Beaver Dam Conservation Area, Plymouth: As we extended our listings into Plymouth, this 783-acre property was a delightful surprise! The water views are quite nice, but there are also some challenging hillside trails — a rarity among South Shore nature preserves. Limited roadside parking on Beaver Dam Road, just northeast of the Plymouth Transfer Station.

North Plymouth Rail Trail, Plymouth: In the mood for something less challenging? Try this. Begin at Nelson Memorial Park and follow the rail trail north along the edge of the Holmes Reservation, all the way to Cordage Park. The total distance is 1.2 miles. Don’t miss the side trail that leads up onto a cliff overlooking Plymouth Bay. There is parking at both ends, as well as several spots in between.

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 You will also find 25+ years of Kezia’s Nature columns there. For more information about the 2022 Explore South Shore Challenge, visit 

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