NATURE
by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent

This month NSRWA features the town of Norwell in its 50 Places to Explore Contest. Through the years, the Town of Norwell has done a remarkable job preserving wildlife habitat across a diverse array of landscapes. There are trail networks and maps for every major conversation parcel, which of course makes them even more inviting!

You may already know the Norris Reservation. It is such a popular spot, that even at 129 acres, it can sometimes feel crowded! Consider the ten other properties listed below as excellent alternatives when you’re looking for a place to walk. I’m still getting to know them all, but so far, my favorites are Cuffee Hill and Stetson Meadows.

Cuffee Hill Conservation Area & Black Pond Bog

July is the perfect time of year to visit this 350-acre property. Specifically, the 83-acre Black Pond Bog Nature Preserve, located within, features a quaking bog, and in the summer, rare orchids grow there. The property also features a network of woodland trails, some dating back to the 1700s. Designated parking (3 small lots) on Mt. Blue Street. Visit www.nsrwa.org/listing/cuffee-hill-conservation-area/

Donovan-Wildcat Conservation Area

150 acres of woods and open fields, located at the intersection of Circuit, Forest, and Pleasant Streets. Fifty acres of fields are leased out for agricultural purposes. Another 100 acres, mostly woods, contain wildlife habitat and walking trails. This is also one of many access points to Norwell’s Pathway, a paved bike and walking trail. Designated parking on Circuit Street. Visit www.nsrwa.org/listing/donovan-wildcat-conservation-area/

Fogg Forest

These 40 acres of town-owned conservation land connect Main and Central Streets with a network of trails. Walk across the field and then look for the trailhead at the edge of the woods. In the forest, you’ll find a mix of white pine, oak, and maple. In the spring, the mature rhododendrons are especially appealing. Park on Main Street, along the right side of the field. Visit www.nsrwa.org/listing/fogg-forest/

Hatch Lots

These 44 acres of historic woodlots, now town conservation land, contain walking trails through forest and wetlands, with a few small footbridges. In the fall, the groves of beech trees are absolutely stunning. Designated parking on Grove Street. Visit www.nsrwa.org/listing/hatch-lots-conservation-area/

Jacobs Pond Conservation Area

This large, diverse property (189 acres) is especially popular with anglers. It features an extensive trail system around the north, east, and west sides of the 60-acre pond. Future plans include the construction of a fish ladder to help migratory species like herring get past the dam that blocks access to their spawning grounds. Launch a canoe or kayak from Jacobs Lane or Duncan Drive. Designated parking on Jacobs Lane. Visit www.nsrwa.org/listing/jacobs-pond-conservation-area/

Miller Woods

This 47-acre parcel of town-owned upland and wetlands contains three loop trails as well as some historic stone walls. It is one of many access points to Norwell’s Pathway, a paved bike and walking trail. Designated parking on Forest Street.  Visit www.nsrwa.org/listing/miller-woods/

Norris Reservation

With over a half-mile of frontage on the North River, this 129-acre parcel offers some of the best views in town. Owned by The Trustees, it features several loop trails, close-up views of Second Herring Brook, and a boathouse where you can sit and just watch the river flow by. Designated parking on Dover Street. Visit www.nsrwa.org/listing/norris-reservation/

Norwell Pathway

A two-mile network of paved, stroller-friendly, walking/cycling trails, sidewalks and boardwalks, the Norwell Pathway provides an alternative to crossing town via Route 123. If you park near the Norwell Middle School (328 Main Street), you can travel more than a mile in either direction – west to the high school or east to Gaffield Park. There are a number of conservation properties along the route, offering various diversions. Visit www.nsrwa.org/listing/norwell-pathway/

Simon Hill and Bowker Street Conservation Area

According to the Massachusetts Historical Commission, native tribes occupied the Simon Hill area through the Woodland, First Period and Colonial Period, and likely continued to occupy the site into the late 1700s. More recently it was targeted for development, but has since been preserved for groundwater protection and passive recreation. Off-street parking along the cul de sac at the end of Simon Hill Road, and at the entry gate across from #190 Bowker Street. Visit www.nsrwa.org/listing/simon-hill-and-bowker-street-conservation-area/

South Shore Natural Science Center

You might know the SSNSC for its educational programming and outdoor festivals, but do you also know that it offers 6 interpretive trails? The trails, which extend to various points on the 30-acre property, are open to the public from dawn to dusk. Located on Jacobs Lane, with ample on-site parking. Visit www.nsrwa.org/listing/south-shore-natural-science-center/

Stetson Meadows

Stetson Meadows may be Norwell’s best-kept secret. This 184-acre conservation property is tucked away in a remote corner of town, with a very long and bumpy access road. But the journey is well worth it! Extensive trails offer gorgeous views of the North River, access to wetlands and woodlands, and even a glimpse of Route 3. It was named for Cornet Robert Stetson, who settled here in 1634. Designated parking on Meadows Farm Way (keep going down the dirt road when you reach the end of Stetson Shrine Lane). Visit www.nsrwa.org/listing/stetson-meadows/

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/