A trail at Whitney & Thayer Woods in Cohasset/Hingham.

Last year at this time I wrote an article recommending twelve open space areas to explore in the New Year. Throughout 2002 I have been delighted to receive all sorts of positive feedback on that article – people telling me that they posted the list on their fridge or bulletin board, and made a point to check out some of the places I mentioned.

So here are twelve more suggestions, one per month, for 2003. Making New Year’s resolutions? Consider spending more time outdoors, perhaps with family or friends. Here’s an itinerary for exploring some of the South Shore’s open space areas.

January: In honor of the New Year, try something different. Perhaps a place you’ve never visited before, or an as-yet-unexplored trail. Bay Farm on the Duxbury/Kingston line (Route 3A to Parks Street) offers 77 acres of trails, a terrific climbing tree, cedar woods, grassy meadows, and lovely views of the Jones River and Kingston Bay.

February: A brisk walk on a sunny winter day can restore energy and spirit. The 37-acre Pudding Hill Reservation in Marshfield (Route 139 to Old Ocean Street to Pudding Hill Lane) features a wooded uphill walk to Marshfield’s water tower, plus views of Chandler Pond and the South River.

March: Spring is on its way. Look for signs of warming weather at Fort Revere Park (Farina Way) in Hull. This 15 acre parcel overlooking Boston Harbor bears the scars of its military past (the graffiti’d concrete bunkers are a fascinating eyesore), but the views are amazing. Dress for the wind. Consider bringing a kite!

April: Mid-month is when the herring start their run from the sea to their spawning grounds upstream. Watch for them in the Back River at Great Esker Park in Weymouth (Elva Road). Walk or bike the mile-long paved trail along the top of the esker, or explore the salt marsh below.

May: Spring, when the trees are budding and the vegetation is turning green again, is the time to explore the trails at Whitney and Thayer Woods (Route 3A) in Cohasset and Hingham, and Turkey Hill nearby. Together these parcels comprise over 800 acres of open space with ten miles of walking trails. Check out the rhododendrons in bloom or hike to the top of Turkey Hill to watch the sun rise or set. Trail maps are advised in this property of considerable size.

June: The greenest month is the time to visit Wharf Creek Conservation Area (Route 139 near the Green Harbor Marina), a low-lying woodland in the valley of the Green Harbor River in Marshfield. See the salt marsh at its most vibrant, or contemplate the strange-looking trees, many of which grow at odd angles, with twisting trunks that stretch out parallel to the ground.

July: A perennial favorite, the forty-acre Rexhame Beach sand dunes (Rexhame Town Beach, Standish Street, Marshfield) mark the former site of the North River mouth. Several walking trails have been carved out among the beach grasses and cedars, providing a circuitous path from the town beach to Humarock, with views of both the ocean and the South River. Enjoy the ocean breeze at the end of a hot day or take a dip in the river.

August: Begin or end a summer day with a walk at Couch Beach (at the rear of Couch Cemetery, Union Street) in North Marshfield. Hike the wide, wooded trail to the cathedral of pines at the river’s edge, and enjoy the shade and the cool breezes off the water as you look out over the wide expanse of green marsh. A dip in the North River may be in order – be careful of strong tides!

September: Check out Pond Meadow Park in Braintree (Liberty Street). These 320 acres include a large pond, nature trails and a paved bike path with lots of twists and turns.

October: Enjoy the fall foliage at MassAudubon’s North River Wildlife Sanctuary in Marshfield (Route 3A). Hike the forest trail to Hannah Eames Brook or explore the meadow and boardwalks leading down to the salt marsh and views of the North River mouth. This is prime birding territory, so bring your binoculars.

November: Consider a family walk before or after the Thanksgiving meal. The versatile Jacobs Pond Conservation Area in Norwell (Jacobs Lane) offers several hiking trails, numerous pond views, and an engaging demonstration of forestry, with examples of unmanaged, partially managed and properly managed woods.

December: As the days grow shorter, make a point to get outside for a breath of fresh air. Whiton Woods in Duxbury (Temple Street) is not easy to find, but this 49-acre conservation area is worth investigating. The parcel includes quiet woodland trails and views of ponds and cranberry bogs. A large cedar tree marks the trail head.

by Kezia Bacon Bernstein, Correspondent
December 2002

Kezia Bacon Bernstein’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.