Nature (Human & Otherwise)
by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent

As winter turns to spring, the days are often bright but also blustery. The sunshine tempts us outdoors, but the wind makes us reconsider, or at least move faster. These are prime opportunities for short walks.

The South Shore is home to a tremendous amount of open space and conservation land. Many of these properties are quite large. But probably just as many, if not more, are on the smaller side, and thus ideal when a short nature walk is what you have in mind. I recently visited three such properties in Duxbury.

South River Bogs: This 100-acre property was once cranberry bogs, but its agricultural days have passed. Dormant since the early 1900s, it has slowly converted to forest and marsh. The South River runs through it, plus several of the bog’s old irrigation channels are still in place. According to the Duxbury Conservation map (a resource rich in historical data, available via the town website, see links below) the parcel was once called Feinberg Bogs, and in addition to cranberry farming, charcoal was made in the forested uplands. The property includes a network of trails, blazed in red, blue and green. Looking out over the river and its marshes, you may wonder what you’re seeing: the not-so-distant traffic of Route 3 surprisingly close-by. Limited parking is available on North Street. Look for a small wooden sign, up the road and diagonally across from Hillside Lane. There is also walking access via various side streets in the Laurel/Temple area.

The John Rubin Path at Camp Wing: The Camp Wing Conservation Area is a 450-acre property with access points on Temple Street, River Street and Franklin Street. Way back in the 1600s, it was designated as “common land,” open to the community for hunting, fishing and lumber. Because Phillips Brook and the South River run through much of the parcel, the trails are concentrated in the area near the Franklin Street entrance. However there is also a single 1-mile trail – the John Rubin Path — in a non-contiguous section of the property, off Temple Street. If you park near the old mill dam and ice house (Simon’s Tomb), just downstream of the pond at the intersection of Keene, Temple and River Streets, you’ll find the trailhead just across the road. It will lead you through the woods and around a loop that offers views of the South River and its surrounding wetlands. This particular section of Camp Wing is just around the corner – and actually backs up to — the South River Bogs property, with Route 3 in the middle. Both offer rare upstream views of the river.

Cow Tent Hill: Managed by the Wildlands Trust, this 32-acre property overlooks the Duck Hill River and Duxbury Marsh. A single loop trail leads through a pine forest, downhill to an overlook, and then returns to the parking area via similar terrain. In days past, the river supplied power for a grist mill (circa 1640) and was known as Stoney Brook. During the War of 1812, it was known as Millbrook, and it powered a factory that produced sailcloth. The property’s current name derives from its more recent history as grazing land — canvas was sometimes tented over portions of a pasture to provide shade for livestock. Look for a small parking area on Tremont Street, not far from the traffic lights.

Duxbury Conservation Map (two files):

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 20 years of nature columns, visit