A new boardwalk at Corn Hill Woodland.


Thanks to Hurricane Irene (2011) and the brutal snowstorms of Winter 2013, many of our local conservation properties sustained serious damage. There was a lot of clean up work to do, and it took time. These Open Space Lands are often intentionally remote, so imagine what it takes to clear scores of fallen trees or repair boardwalks in areas where there is no vehicular access.
Corn Hill Woodland, a 123-acre parcel located in North Marshfield, is one property that was hit hard. In fact, after the winter storms, one of its boardwalks was actually standing on end! Prior to the storms, the North and South Rivers Watershed Association had identified Corn Hill as a property in need of rehabilitation, and in 2012 they were given permission to begin work replacing boardwalks and clearing trails. Unfortunately, some of the work had to be redone after the storms. The project was completed earlier this year, thanks in part to Summit Landscape and Mass Audubon, as well as a team of Americorps volunteers and the town of Marshfield.
I hadn’t been to Corn Hill Woodland for years, but I headed back there this August, and I was pleased to see well-marked trails, and new sections of boardwalk.
Corn Hill Woodland is a great place for a long, peaceful walk. There are number of trails, mostly through the forest. There are three loop trails, plus a spur that heads down to the salt marsh, and three additional spurs that lead to roadside trail heads. Some of the paths are quite narrow – especially if you go in the summer, when the ferns are leafed out in their entirety . . . There are places where the ferns are so lush that you can’t see the ground at all! The blazes posted just above eye level on some of the trails are extremely helpful.
Unlike some of its more popular neighbors – such as the Norris Reservation across the river — Corn Hill is quiet. The parking area is small, and the signage is even smaller – just a wooden post at the roadside. Not many people know about it – or if they, do it’s not their first choice as a walking destination.
My favorite section of Corn Hill Woodland is quite a ways in – the loop closest to the North River. Down there you will find several small boardwalks traversing wetlands. In the warmer months, the combined effects of the salt marsh, the ferns, and the leaves on the trees make Corn Hill feel like a sea of green. The view of the river and the marshes is also quite lovely.
In autumn, the beeches near the front section of the property are a feature worth observing. They hold onto their leaves much longer than most of our other deciduous trees, so by making a trip to Corn Hill in November, you might catch a late glimpse of fall.
There are three access points for Corn Hill Woodland. Two are on Corn Hill Lane, and the other is on Union Street. If you consult the Conservation Properties Map (2002) on the Town of Marshfield’s website, you will find a basic layout of Corn Hill’s trail network, as well as the location of the parcel itself. It’s always a good idea to bring a map along, just in case. By the time you read this, there may even be a map posted there, in the on-site kiosk that the Wildlands Trust recently provided. 
by Kezia Bacon
September 2014
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 To browse 15 years of Nature (Human and Otherwise) columns, visit