The trail into the John Little Conservation Area in Marshfield.

(This article was originally published in December 2012. It was inadvertently left out of this blog.)

The South Shore is already well developed, yet new construction continues, despite the struggling economy and dwindling amounts of available acreage. So it’s especially exciting these days when a new conservation area is carved out of the ever-changing landscape.
In recent years, quite a number of open space parcels have been set aside in the town of Marshfield. The majority of the properties are on the smaller end of the spectrum, but each has its charms. 
South River Park– On a busy stretch of Route 139 (Ocean Street), tucked between a busy Shell service station and a dilapidated home, is the new South River Park. Years in the making, this small (1.5 acre) parcel serves as a companion to the town’s Veterans Memorial Park, just a few hundred yards upstream. The new park includes parking for 9 vehicles, and a flat, gravel-on-grass walking loop with views of the river. A second, asphalt loop leads downhill to a granite Honor Roll containing the names of Marshfield-based soldiers who served in the Korean, Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars, as well as the Global War on Terrorism. Also in the lower portion is a boardwalk to the river. This particular stretch of the South River, fenced in and tucked between a commercial strip and an elementary school, has been – in a sense – hidden from the public for the last several decades. Bravo to the Town of Marshfield for providing new views. I’m looking forward to spring, when – on sunny days — herring might be visible from the boardwalk as they fight their way upstream to spawn.
Mary’s Garden– Drive to the end of Corn Hill Lane, off Union Street in North Marshfield, and you’ll be treated to an expansive view of the North River. Now, thanks to the Town of Marshfield and the North and South Rivers Watershed Association (NSRWA), as well as several private citizens, you can pause there at the tiniest of parks, to enjoy the scenery. Mary’s Garden, dedicated to longtime neighbor and river enthusiast Mary Eliot, is comprised of a wooden bench set on crushed stone, surrounded by a “wildlife garden” of perennials, grasses, and shrubs. Overlooking the salt marsh, this “pocket park” is located at “Gravelly Beach,” the former site of the Rogers Shipyard, which was active until 1819.
John Little Conservation Area and The Goggin Property– These two contiguous properties, accessible via a 10-car parking area on Union Street, were acquired by the town in the last few years. Follow the trail through a small grove of evergreens and across a field with old stone walls at its perimeter. Looking north, toward an adjacent horse farm, will give you a sense of the agricultural history of this part of town. 
The trail intersects with a cart path, which you can follow into the woods, across a stream, and over a rise before you begin to head downhill toward the river. You’ll see plenty of pine and oak, with the occasional beech, birch or holly tree, plus princess pine, bittersweet, wintergreen, and plenty more. The occasional red metal arrow/blaze will help you stay on track. 
The 25-acre Little Property leads directly to the 49-acre Goggin parcel. The trail grows narrower there, and you’ll find simple boardwalks to help you traverse the wetter areas. Veering from westbound, to north, to south, the trail eventually runs parallel to the North River, offering a lovely view. Continue on, uphill for a bit, until you reach an intersection with another cart path. To the east is private property. Head west (follow the arrows) and you’ll be led down to the river at last. A long boardwalk leads across the marsh, to the water’s edge. Two benches provide a place to rest your feet and enjoy the view.
You’ll need to retrace your steps to return to the parking area. For me, walking at a moderate pace, and stopping to take the occasional photograph, it was a 30-minute hike each way.
I had no idea that the Little/Goggin properties were so large. This relatively new conservation parcel is a noteworthy addition to the Town of Marshfield’s already-impressive array of open space lands. I will definitely return, with friends, to walk the trails again. 
Thanks to the combined efforts of town officials, volunteer board members, private citizens, town meeting voters, and advocacy groups like the NSRWA, Marshfield continues to be a regional leader in the preservation of open space. I look forward to visiting its most recent acquisition, the Pratt property, adjacent to the South River, near the town center.
by Kezia Bacon
December 2012
Kezia Bacon’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 or visit www.nsrwa.org. To browse 15 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com