NATURE
by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent

This month NSRWA features the town of Marshfield in its 50 Places to Explore Contest. With its many beaches and parks, as well as the walking spots featured here, Marshfield offers an extraordinary array of places to enjoy the natural world. You could visit a different property each day during the month of June and not get to them all! This list begins with some of the lesser-known properties.

Note: Mass Audubon’s gorgeous North River Wildlife Sanctuary located off of Rt 3a in Marshfield was recently re-opened (June 4, 2020) to local visitors. The buildings and bathrooms were still  closed.

Furnace Brook Watershed

Marshfield’s first major conservation acquisition is also among its least-known. Furnace Brook runs through these 287 forested acres, located between Forest, Pine, School and Main Streets. There are trailheads on each of those roads, and a network of walking paths within the property, but no official parking area. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/furnace-brook-watershed/

Ferry Hill Thicket

Another early acquisition, and also one of Marshfield’s smallest conservation areas, this 6-acre parcel where birds often congregate offers a half-mile walk through woodland and thicket. Look for the property sign on Ferry Hill Road, where there is room for one car to pull over and park. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/ferry-hill-thicket/

Coast Guard Hill

Right next to the Marshfield Recreation Department’s Ferry Street headquarters, is a trail that leads to the top of this historic 40-acre hill. The views of Humarock and the South River are amazing! Limited on-site parking. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/coast-guard-hill/

Pudding Hill Reservation

Another hill-with-a-view, this wooded 37-acre Wildlands Trust property abuts Chandler Pond, an impoundment created by a dam on the South River. Climb to the top for a bird’s eye view of Veterans Memorial Park and the South River. Limited on-site parking on Pudding Hill Lane. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/pudding-hill-reservation/

Ellis Nature Sanctuary

Not far from Pudding Hill, this conservation area and former cranberry bog features a short loop trail around a pond within 27 acres of woods and wetlands. Small on-site parking area — look for the unmarked driveway on Plain Street, at the Sandy Hill Drive intersection. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/ellis-nature-sanctuary/

Rexhame Dunes

Marshfield’s town beach has a secret! From the parking area (sticker or fee required in season) walk away from the ocean to find a lesser-known network of trails that extends through the sand dunes, along the South River, and over to Humarock. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/rexhame-beach/

Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary

In 1832, renowned statesman Daniel Webster established a vast agricultural estate on the banks of the Green Harbor River; this 578-acre MassAudubon property was part of it. The trails lead through meadow, marsh, and swamp, with two bridges and numerous boardwalks. The pavilion at Fox Hill is a prime spot for wildlife viewing. Limited on-site parking at the end of Winslow Cemetery Road. Visit: https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/daniel-webster-wildlife-sanctuary/

Webster’s Wilderness

These 130 acres of conservation land were also part of Daniel Webster’s estate. In contrast to the MassAudubon sanctuary, this property is heavily wooded, with some vernal pools and marshes, plus views of Wharf Creek. Park at Wheeler Athletic Complex on Webster Street. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/websters-wilderness/

Wharf Creek Conservation Area

Not far downstream from Webster’s Wilderness is another town-owned property, the 122-acre Wharf Creek Conservation Area. There are two short trails from two different access points; both lead through forest and thicket to the water’s edge. Roadside parking on Calypso Lane. Pedestrian access from Dyke Road, across from the Green Harbor Yacht Club. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/wharf-creek-conservation-area/

Hoyt Hall Preserve

A newer property, this 123-acre Wildlands Trust preserve features a loop trail around Long Tom Pond, plus a spur to the Historic Winslow House. Limited on-site parking on Careswell Street, across from Colby Hewitt Lane. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/hoyt-hall-preserve/

Bridle Path and Rail Trail

Extending for 3 miles from the town center to the Pinehurst neighborhood, this former Old Colony Railroad route features a wide, flat trail. The terrain is mostly wooded, with some meadows and gravel pits along the way, plus glimpses of such landmarks as the Marshfield Fairgrounds. Don’t miss the Francis Keville Bridge on the South River. Limited on-site parking on Ferry Street or in Library Plaza (follow the crosswalks to the trailhead between CVS and Dandelion Park). Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/bridle-trail-and-rail-trail/

Carolina Hill Reservation

A section of the Bridle Path extends along the edge of Carolina Hill Reservation, Marshfield’s largest conservation property, known to some as The High T’s. A network of well-established (but unmarked) trails traverses the summit and slopes of this 775-acre hill. Park on Ferry Street at the Bridle Path, or at the small on-site parking area on Main Street, across from Old Main. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/carolina-hill-reservation/

Pratt Farm

Accessible from the Rail Trail, these 37 acres of town-owned former farmland feature a short trail through woods and wetlands, with views of Zenas Brook. Small on-site parking area on Willow Street. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/pratt-farm/

Nelson Memorial Forest / Union Street Woodland / Phillips Farm Preserve

These three properties on Rogers Hill in North Marshfield were once a prosperous farm. With over 260 acres total, there is plenty to explore. A small parking lot on Union Street (near Hunter Drive) provides access to a network of trails that lead through the woods, with views of the North River and Cove Creek. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/nelson-memorial-forest/

Cornhill Woodland

Another large conservation property on Union Street is the 123-acre Cornhill Woodland. Follow trails and boardwalks through woods and wetlands to the marsh at the edge of the North River. Small on-site parking lot on Union, near Short Street. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/cornhill-woodland/

John Little Conservation Area

Continuing on Union Street heading south, you’ll find this diverse and historic 75-acre property. From the small on-site parking area, walk across the pasture into the woods. You’ll cross a brook or two, and eventually work your way down the side of a hill to the North River. A long boardwalk extends through the salt marsh to the edge of the river, where the views are often breathtaking. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/john-little-conservation-area/

Couch Beach

Farther down Union Street is Couch Memorial Cemetery, and directly behind the cemetery is the 20-acre town-owned Couch Beach. There are two trailheads — one toward the rear of the cemetery (look for a large metal gate), and one at the very back. Both lead through a pine forest to the North River, where there is a small sandy beach and some beautiful views of extensive salt marsh. Limited on-site parking near the trailhead gate. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/couch-beach/

Two Mile Farm / Jose Carreiro Woodland

Still on Union Street, these two adjacent properties combine to provide 79 acres of woodland and trails on a hillside within the river valley. There are views of the North River and its marshes, and some steep elevations. Limited on-site parking on Union Street just south of Pine Street, and in the cul de sac at the end of Maryland Street. Visit https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/two-mile-farm/ and https://www.nsrwa.org/listing/jose-carreiro-woodland/

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 20+ years of Kezia’s Nature columns there. For more information about the 50 Places to Explore Contest,” visit https://www.nsrwa.org/get-outdoors/enter-the-nsrwa-50-places-to-explore-contest/