Already it’s November. The nights grow longer, the weather grows cooler. I am reluctant to pull out my winter coat, but I know that these crisp days will soon yield to chilly ones. When I step outside, the cold air’s bite makes me want to spend as much time as I can outdoors, before my winter hibernation instinct kicks in.
I am a creature of habit, and just about every season I fall into a groove where I walk at the same conservation area or wildlife sanctuary day after day, for months at a time. This year it’s different. I’ve been varying my walking places nearly every week, sometimes visiting an old favorite, sometimes trying something new. As a result, I get to see some of my favorite open space areas in seasons that I might not normally experience them — the Webster Sanctuary in autumn, for example, when I usually go there in spring.
It’s beautiful outdoors this time of year. With clear skies and what remains of the fall foliage, almost everywhere you go, you can be treated to a display of nature’s vibrant color. You probably have your own favorite walking places, but perhaps you would like to try something new. Here are a few recommendations:
• Nelson Memorial Forest: One of my favorite autumn walking places, this 130-acre property, managed by the New England Forestry Foundation, offers views of both the North River and Cove Creek, access to the salt marsh and plenty of wide walking trails. It is located on Highland Street in North Marshfield.
• Corn Hill Woodland: Just around the corner on Union Street is this 123-acre Marshfield Conservation property, featuring beech groves, expansive river views, the “Swamp Trail” boardwalk, and one very large, very old pine tree. Trails tend to be winding and narrow, but not steep. Old stones walls reveal evidence of Corn Hill’s agricultural past.
• The Norris Reservation: A popular favorite, this 117-acre parcel features an old mill pond, a recently restored boat house overlooking the North River, trails both narrow and wide, and close-up views of Second Herring Brook. Managed by the Trustees of Reservation, the Norris offers a large parking area on Dover Street in Norwell, across from the new post office.
• Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary: My current favorite, this Massachusetts Audubon property includes a total of 476 acres, made up of both meadow and woods. Also known as Dwyer Farm, this sanctuary, located at the end of Winslow Cemetery Road in Marshfield, includes wildlife observation blinds, wooden boardwalks, trails through both woods and grasslands, and views of the Green Harbor River.
• Stetson Meadows: Narrow paths through the woods offer a guided tour (look for small signs, close to the ground) of the many wildflowers, ferns, shrubs and trees on this 144-acre Norwell Conservation property, located at the end of Stetson Shrine Lane. A wooden bench provides a perfect spot to observe the North River and its salt marshes.
• Bay Farm: Located on Bay Road in Duxbury, this 80-acre former dairy farm is managed jointly by the towns of Duxbury and Kingston. Trails through grassy meadows and cedar woods lead to views of the Jones River and Kingston Bay.
• Pudding Hill Reservation: A small (37 acres) but significant open space area on Pudding Hill Lane, near Marshfield Center. This property, managed by the Wildlands Trust of Southeastern Massachusetts, includes a steep hillside path and a wide trail through groves of white pine. Chandler Pond and the South River are also highlights.
• The Rexhame Dunes: A perennial favorite, these sand dunes mark the former site of the North River mouth. Several walking trails have been carved out among the beach grasses and cedar trees, providing a circuitous path from Rexhame Beach to Humarock, with views of both the ocean and the South River. This 40-acre parcel, located at the town beach at the end of Standish Street, is managed by the Town of Marshfield.
• Whiton Woods: Not easy to find, but worth investigating, this 49-acre conservation area includes quiet woodland trails and views of ponds and cranberry bogs. It is located on Temple Street in Duxbury. A large cedar tree marks the trail head.
• World’s End: If you’ve never been to this jewel in the crown of South Shore open spaces, do yourself a favor and visit this 251-acre property on Martin’s Lane in Hingham, managed by the Trustees of Reservations. Featuring rolling hills, rocky shores, and spectacular views of Boston Harbor, the Weir River, Hingham, and Hull, the narrow trails and tree-lined carriage paths of World’s End are a treat at any time of year.
by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent
Kezia Bacon’s articles are provided by the North and South Rivers Watershed Association.