NATURE by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent
This winter has been mild so far, but let’s not forget the storms of last March. Spring doesn’t arrive until the 20th, and even then, we won’t necessarily be spared from snow, wind, and bitter cold. It’s not unusual to want to hibernate during the colder months, but stepping outdoors into a natural setting, even for a small amount of time, can be energizing and restorative. It will probably also help clear the clutter from your mind.
Sometimes a short walk is all you need. The fresh air and sunshine can do wonders for your mood and your energy level. Stepping away from the distractions of digital screens and our otherwise plugged-in lives gives your brain more space for problem solving and deep thought. Below are some suggestions for short winter walks to get you through ‘til springtime.
• Crowell Conservation Area, Duxbury: For 100 years this property was a working cranberry bog. Now it belongs to the Duxbury Conservation Commission. The wide dirt roads around the bogs provide easy walking on relatively flat surfaces. Additional trails lead into the woods. There are 60 acres in total. You’ll find a small parking area on Lincoln Street near the roundabout, and a kiosk for pet waste bags a short way up the main trail. When cranberry bogs fall into disuse, they provide an excellent habitat for wildlife. Birders will love this spot.
• Ferry Hill Thicket, Marshfield: Another great spot for birders. These 6 acres of Marshfield Conservation land are tucked into a valley between two residential areas. The recently-groomed trail is short – not even a half mile – but while walking through the property, from Ferry Hill Road to Peabody Road, you’ll see maple, holly, cedar, oak, and birch, plus some really large pine trees and lots of greenbrier. There is a small stream with wetlands around it. No formal parking, but there is a room for a car to pull to the side on Ferry Hill Road. You’ll find the trailhead just past, and across the street, from Ferry Hill Day Camp.
• Herring Brook Trail, Scituate: You’ll find a small parking area for this diverse parcel next to the Dunkin Donuts on New Driftway in Scituate. The Herring Brook Trail runs 0.4 miles along the former Old Colony Railroad bed – first through sparse woods, and then through the marshes to the Herring River. Because the railroad grade provides some elevation, the views are quite nice. At the end of the trail, if you find yourself wishing for a bridge, you won’t be alone. You can see how the railroad bed continues on the other side of Herring River (in fact, it goes all the way to the North River at Damon’s Point) but you won’t be able to get there without very tall boots and an enthusiasm for deep marsh mud.
• Ellis Nature Preserve, Marshfield: If you’re seeking a quick walk in a beautiful spot, with the chance to see some wildlife, consider the Ellis Preserve. On the autumn day I visited, I spotted a great blue heron in the wetlands that surround this former cranberry bog. This Marshfield Conservation property totals 27 acres, but the wide, flat trail — for now — is only a half mile. Look for the small parking lot down a short access road off Plain Street, near Sandy Hill Drive.
• Canoe Club Preserve, Pembroke: Another quick, easy walk is just off Route 139 and 53 in Pembroke. This 20-acre Wildlands Trust nature preserve, with 100 feet of frontage along the North River, features red maple swamp, small stands of Atlantic White Cedar, and a view of the freshwater tidal marsh. A boardwalk provides an overlook of the wetlands but no access to the river. Look for designated on-site parking along the side of the lot at Pembroke Pointe Plaza.
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. To browse 20 years of nature columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com