Consider the Rexhame Dunes in Marshfield when you’re in the mood for a winter walk.

Although this winter hasn’t been too bad (so far), you may still be experiencing cabin fever. One effective antidote is to take a walk outdoors on a sunny day — or even while it’s snowing. Even a half-hour of fresh air and exercise can make a big difference.

What follows is a list of some of my favorite winter walking places.

Nelson Memorial Forest: A “hidden jewel,” 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 paths. There are boardwalk trails, logging roads, and a hemlock grove, among other features, plus a couple benches that look out on picture-perfect landscapes. The property is located on Highland Street in North Marshfield. Watch for an unmarked dirt driveway at the top of Highland Hill. If there’s snow on the ground, you may want to bring your cross-country skis or snowshoes.

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. The trails tend to be winding and narrow, but not steep. Old stone walls reveal evidence of Corn Hill’s agricultural past.

The Norris Reservation: A popular favorite, this nearly 200-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 post office. If it’s been a while since you’ve explored the Norris, be sure to check out the new Gordon Loop Trail, which offers boardwalks and a close-up view of Second Herring Brook as it flows into the North River. Like Nelson Forest, the Norris is an ideal site for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. But on a nice day, it can also be crowded!

Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary: Perfect for a sunny day, but not a windy one, 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. As this is first-and-foremost a bird sanctuary, leave your dog, and your baby stroller, at home.

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. Another sunny-but-not-windy day favorite, as ocean breezes can be quite gusty in this wide-open area.

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. Sturdy footwear is a good idea, especially if there is snow or ice on the ground.

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. The Town of Marshfield manages this 40-acre parcel, located at the town beach at the end of Standish Street. The Rexhame Dunes is probably not the best place to walk when it’s windy (unless you like eating sand), but otherwise I highly recommend it, especially to those who have only visited the beach in the summer.

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. A small fee is required at the gate for non-members.

By Kezia Bacon-Bernstein, Correspondent
January 2006

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.