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Welcome to my collection of South Shore walking trails!
Being in nature was something that I craved when we lived in Boston. Having easier access to outdoor activities was one of the main reasons that we moved to the suburbs of the South Shore! Now that I am working from home, I like to utilize breaks between calls or my lunch hour to get outside!
My goal this year is to explore as many local walking trails as I can. It’s a great way to break up the work day, get into nature, and explore our local community in ways that I haven’t yet.
For many of these trails, I use the AllTrails app. The app is free, and has a great catalog of local trails. Once you are on the trail page, scroll down and click “View Full Map”, and use the blue dot to track your location along the way.
I will continue to add to this list and update this post as I explore more trails!
For more South Shore, MA finds & guides, follow me on Instagram at Click here!
- Scituate: Driftway Conservation Park – Scituate, MA | Widow’s Walk Golf Course – Scituate, MA | Higgins-MacAllister Preserve – Scituate, MA | Ellis Estate Trails
- Marshfield: North River Wildlife Sanctuary – Marshfield, MA | John Little Conservation – Marshfield, MA | Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary – Marshfield, MA
- Norwell: Norris Reservation – Norwell, MA | Jacobs Pond Conservation Area – Norwell, MA
- Cohasset: Wheelwright Park – Cohasset, MA | Whitney & Thayer Woods
- Duxbury: Bay Circuit Trail – Duxbury, MA
All this walking will make you hungry, be sure to stop by one of our Our 5 Go-To South Shore Restaurants afterwards!
Driftway Conservation Park – A. J. McEachern Trail
Let’s start off short and simple. 🙂
This series of loop trails at Driftway Conservation Park in Scituate, MA called A. J. McEachern Trail is my favorite short walking trail! It is a short, easy trail where the forest meets the marsh. The combination of sandy paths through the forest and marshlands gives it a unique beach-y feel. The trail hosts a couple of piers with beautiful views of the Herring River and its marshes, as well as close up views of Scituate windmill.
The parking lot for this trail is often busy, as it is a popular boat, kayak, or SUP launch, especially in the summer. At the end of the parking lot, you will find a large wooden fishing pier over Herring River. Walk past the pier and you will see a sign to enter A. J. McEachern Trail. A little ways into the trail, there will be a fork at a memorial stone – Take a right to find another picturesque pier with plenty of bench seating and views of Herring River (the cover photo of this post is taken from the entrance to this pier). After you have taken in the view, go back and take the opposite route into the forest.
At the next fork, I usually take a right. This brings you through more woodlands and into a sandy clearing under the Scituate windmill. Once you re-enter the forest under the windmill, continue the path until you emerge onto the marsh. Across the marsh, you will see stunning views of Scituate Country Club and Third Cliff in the distance. Take a seat on “Carol’s Bench” and enjoy the views. As you walk along the marsh, there are more narrow paths that act as short loops back to the entrance of the marsh area. You can go back the way that you came, or take the trail to the right once you are back in the sandy clearing. Both options bring you right back to the entrance to the trail.
This trail takes only about 20-30 minutes, depending on your speed and how many breaks you take to take in the view. I often walk this trail with my morning coffee, or if I want a short break during the day to unwind. This trail is very common for dog walking.
Mass Audubon’s North River Wildlife Sanctuary
Mass Audubon’s North River Wildlife Sanctuary is right over the bridge from Scituate in Marshfield. This is a beautiful, short, easy walk! The trail is less than a mile long, and is called the “River Loop”. Once you park in the parking lot, you actually have to cross the street to enter the trail. There is a map near the building if you can’t find the path. The loop starts on a path through a wide open field for viewing of wildlife like birds, butterflies, and native flowers. You will then enter the woods and walk on a boardwalk through the forest until you emerge from the woods onto a platform with beautiful views of North River. Take in the view (and take a picture!) before you head back along the boardwalk loop through the forest, and back into the field to complete the loop.
The Norris Reservation has a series of “loop” trails with a variety of pathways and views, including the Old Boat House, scenic views of the North River, boardwalks, brooks, ponds, wetlands, and forests of pine and oak.
The McMullan Trail will bring you through the forest with a destination of the Boat House. You can walk right through the Boat House and right onto its deck overlooking the North River! This is a very unique spot with great views of the river. Stop here for a snack, and to take some pictures! From here you can head back, or travel onto the River Loop trail that continues alongside the North River and loops back along Second Herring Brook.
Near the end of River Loop, you have the option to venue onto Gordon Pond Trail, which is a series of boardwalks that circle Gordon Pond, and bring you back to finish River Loop. We saw a couple kids fishing in the pond!
We did all three loops, which was a little over 2 miles. Make it as long or short as you would like, and all trails are dog and kid friendly!
John Little Conservation
I loved exploring the John Little Conversation in Marshfield! Aside from beautiful woodlands, it hosts a variety of unique features including old rock walls, boardwalks, streams, and finally a dock with beautiful views of North River.
Compared to the other walking trails I have posted, this one was slightly more moderate. This is because the trail is more narrow, about 2 miles long, and has areas of slight incline.
From the small parking area, a trail leads through a meadow and into the woods. Near the beginning of the trail, you will find the first loop. I ventured to the right, but I probably wouldn’t do it again. The path becomes a lot more narrow, a little bit overgrown, and less marked. It gave me a little bit of a “lost in the woods” feeling. I would recommend staying straight, and coming back the same way. If you do explore the loop like I did, you will rejoin the more obvious trail after only a few minutes.
Back on the “main” trail, you will walk through the woods and over boardwalks, a small footbridge over a stream, and exposed roots. When you reach another fork in the trail, take a right to find the dock!
Take a break at the picnic table! Near the dock you will also find a tent platform (or yoga platform anyone?) and a unique teepee structure (kids will love this!). Walk to the end of the dock for beautiful views of the North River!
When you want to continue on, you can go back the way you came, or choose to continue the loop past the dock area. I continued the loop, but again, I may skip it next time. Similarly to the first loop, the path becomes more narrow and less marked. If you do decide to take that route, you will end up back on the main trail, and continue back the way you came!
Because of the nature of the trail, I used the AllTrails app to follow my location to keep myself on route.
Jacobs Pond Conversation Area
My favorite part about Jacob’s Pond Conversation Area in Norwell was the many close encounters with the beautiful swans!
This one is a 2.8 mile loop through the forest and along the picturesque Jacobs Pond. The loop trail consists of mostly woodland & forest, characterized by exposed roots, boulders, & a few boardwalks & bridges. I used the free AllTrails app to track my location as I went to ensure that I was on the right path!
After you park, walk towards the pond and take a right to start the trail. The first loop is a fairly wide, easy, walk through the woods with the occasional foot bridge or boardwalk.
The second leg of the trail, called Esker Trail, starts with a path of large boulders to walk over and is heavily covered with exposed tree roots. Because of the rocks & roots, Esker Trail is a bit more moderate than the beginning, but is heavily marked with blue tree markers.
I generally always start a loop to the right, but this time I started to the left because the “Bridge” sign intrigued me. Early on in the loop, you can walk down to a curved wooden bridge for a great view of the lake. This bridge backs up to a home, so enjoy the view, and then turn back before you end up in the neighbors yard! The bridge is marked by red squares on the AllTrails map.
I started to continue the loop past the bridge, which was more of the same wooded, root-covered path. I “cheated” and took the path back by the Esker Trail sign instead of continuing.
Walk back over the rocks, and take the path back to the right (the opposite way that you started). This final stretch is a beautiful walk along the pond, with many opportunities to enjoy the view. This is where I saw the swans!
Back at the dock, there is also a small trail on the opposite side. Here you cross a small dock to find a wide open area complete with picnic tables & a fire pit. I was lucky enough to see the swans up close again in this area!
In the height of leaf-peaking season here in New England, I visited Wheelwright Park in Cohasset! The main attraction here at this time of year is the pumpkin patch set up by Cohasset ASP. They arrange the pumpkins in a beautiful pattern. I loved seeing many families here picking out their pumpkins!
Head past the pumpkin patch and you will find the trail entrance. There are SO many different trails and areas to explore throughout Wheelwright Park and Barnes Wildlife Sanctuary! The trails are moderately covered in fallen leaves through woodlands, with unique features along the way such as old rock formations, old rock walls, skating ponds, and open fields that act as wildlife sanctuaries. (I saw bluejays and cardinals!)
I have never been here before, so I found a specific trail to stick to called the “Wheel Wright Holy Hill Loop” on my AllTrails app. On AllTrails, you can open the trail map and watch your location (the moving blue dot) as you walk. Because there are so many trail splits, watching my blue dot probably kept me from getting lost on this one.
A little ways up the path (past Little Tipling and Devil’s Chair), you can veer off the main path to follow “Lemon Squeezer”. This path is a lot narrower than the main path, and is less distinguishable because of the fallen leaves. If you chose to take that route, you will soon end back back on the wider, main path.
At the next split in the road, veer right to enter “White Woods”. You will walk behind a couple of backyards to a large rock that acts as an overlook to the water and Jerusalem Road below. Continuing on, you will enter the first wide open field for wildlife viewing before you find the “Ice Pond”. I paused here for a few minutes before continuing on to find another wide open field. This one had more birds, gardens, what looks like log art.
From the field, re-enter the woods through a rock wall (there are many options). Finally, you will make a long loop through the woods, and back along an old rock wall. This will bring you back to the entrance of White Woods sign, and head back the way you came!
Bay Circuit Trail
I explored the Bay Circuit Trail in Duxbury. This is a short, easy walking path with beautiful ocean views. Very dog and kid friendly. The trail begins on a wide grassy path through an open field of wild grasses and flowers. Follow the variety of boardwalks all the way to the tree line. Beyond the short patch of forest that separates the field with the open ocean, there is a large rock. Pause and enjoy an uninterrupted view of the ocean!
I went exploring to the right of the rock on barely visible paths through the woods and down on the marsh. Seemingly in the middle of no where, I was congratulated by a mounted sign on making it to the most southern point of the Bay Circuit Trail. The sign had a map of the whole coast of Massachusetts! I didn’t know that the Bay Circuit Trail is actually a 200 mile long trail spanning most of Massachusetts’s shoreline from Newburyport to Duxbury! It would be very cool to try and walk the whole thing!
Mass Audubon’s Daniel Webster Wildlife Sanctuary
This trail is BEAUTIFUL! There are so many different and unique aspects of this trail, that you will experience something new around every corner. You will find open fields, boardwalks, woodland paths, ponds, rivers, bridges, tall reed grasses, marshlands, lookouts, and lots of wildlife!
At the trail entrance, there are signs to inform you of what type of wildlife you may encounter along the trails. The trail itself is a series or loops, and begins with the option to take a right onto Pond Trail, or a left on Fox Hill Trail. I opted right.
This led me onto a grassy field scattered with bird houses, and to Webster Pond. Continuing passed the pond, you will enter the woods onto Secret Trail which consists of wooden boardwalks over wetlands. Halfway through Secret Trail you will encounter a Loop trail. I tried this trail, but there isn’t anything exciting to see, so I may skip it next time unless I am looking to get some extra steps in.
Back on the Secret Trail boardwalk, continue until you are back in an open field and you will climb up Fox Hill on your right to the observation point. This is a beautiful spot with a platform and benches set up to observe the abundant wildlife below. I saw a couple of deer (you can barely see them in the picture) and hawks.
Once you are rested and done observing, continue on and you will find my favorite part – the River Walk! This whole loop is a boardwalk through tall reed grass on both sides. This boardwalks continues into two bridges over the river.
River Walk will dump you right back into the open field. There is an option for a short loop called Piggery Loop, but other than that it’s a straight shot back to the Parking Lot.
Widow’s Walk Golf Course
When the golf course is closed for the season, Widow’s Walk is open to dog walkers, bird-watchers, and generally anyone who wants to enjoy its beautiful grounds and wildlife sanctuary!
There are many routes and paths you can take throughout the course, both paved (these parts would be good for strollers!) and unpaved. You will find beautiful greens, forests, ponds, wildlife, and even views of the Scituate windmill, Herring River, and the Atlantic Ocean!
Widow’s Walk Golf Course in Scituate was the first “environmental demonstration course” in America! Unlike most golf courses that are created by cutting down trees, Widow’s Walk was designed to utilize and enhance the site’s natural resources, wildlife, and wetlands. It even became a Certified Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary in 2002!
I found a new trail today – The Higgins-MacAllister Preserve in Scituate!
The trail itself feels like a natural, undisturbed (but very well marked) walk through the forest. Although the foot trail is sometimes hard to discern, you can always see the next trail marker to keep you on track. The woodland area itself has a different look and feel than others I have encountered, with many moss-covered rocks, holly trees, numerous rock walls, and an overall enchanted forest vibe (let me know if that’s just me!).
This trail is located at the end of Holly Crest Road in Scituate. It does say private way, but there is a new (2020) small parking lot at the end of the street. From the parking lot, you will see a brand new bridge (built in 2020). The bridge brings you across a brook with beautiful moss-covered rocks. Once across the bridge, you will walk over a rock wall and onto the trail.
The trail is a loop that is just over a mile, with a couple short detours. The trail starts at the “17” and marked by square teal tree markers. I chose to start the loop to the right, which was a good choice to kick it off with some of the main attractions.
Soon after getting started, you will see a “16” and the option to veer off onto the very short Brook Loop marked with darker blue squares. I highly recommend taking this short detour for beautiful views of the brook and moss-covered rocks. At the end of the loop, you will re-join the main teal colored loop at a “15” marker.
Continuing on a short while, you will see an option to take a left to view a very large Eastern White Pine tree. This tree is magnificent, and has been adorned with a wind chime.
Back on the trail, you will continue to follow the teal marked trees through the forest and around the loop. About mid-way, you will encounter a “14”, which gives you the option to access the Bates Conversation Area. This will bring you to a much larger system of trails, but I continued on to finish the loop back to the parking lot.
You will eventually see the bridge to your right, and be back where you started!
Ellis Estate Trails
I had been meaning to explore Ellis Estate Trails for some time now, as I drive by it almost every day! When I decided to check it out, it was a little bit muddy, but that’s only because of the New England winter weather!
What intrigued me the most was the Bailey-Ellis house, now home of Scituate Arts Association, that has been used as the location for two Italian horror films – House By The Cemetery (1981) and Ghousthouse (1988).
The Bailey-Ellis House was originally named “Elm Heights” and was built around 1830 by John Wade Bailey, named after a large elm tree near the house that was “so large and so tall that Mariners at sea took their positions from it”. The house exemplifies late 19th century architecture in Scituate. It was later re-named “Ellsberg” by Joseph Bailey’s grandson, Walter, and his wife Harriet Kimball Ellis. The Bailey and Ellis families were prominent figures in Scituate and important Boston merchants. Members of the Bailey and Ellis families occupied the property until 1969, when the estate was sold to the Town of Scituate.
Today, leading up to and surrounding the property are a series of short walking trails. You can choose to walk the main dirt road up and back, or enter into the several woodland trails to either side of the street.
We entered the “Bailey-Ellis Loop” to the right of the dirt road, found shortly after the small parking lot at the entrance off Country Road. At the tip of the loop, we exited the woods to the right to find the Bailey-Ellis House before heading back into the woods to complete the loop. Along the trails themselves, you will find a variety of old stone walls, holly trees, boulders, and large pines, oaks, beech, & birch trees.
There are several other loops to choose from, including the “Ellsberg Trail” that traverses wetlands surrounding Deke’s Pond.
I love local sites with history tied to them, and this was a quick, easy walk! We will definitely be back to explore the other loops!
Whitney & Thayer Woods
Now that the weather is warming up, I am starting to get back into the woods to try more local walking trails!
Last week I tried Bancroft Trail Loop in Cohasset, MA. The parking area is right off of 3A (Whitney & Thayer Woods on Google Maps), and the trail itself is about 2 miles long.
Bancroft Trail Loop (or “Blue Loop”) is part of a much larger systems of trails that make up Whitney & Thayer Woods. Because of that, there are many different connecting trails. Each intersection is very well marked with a trail map indicating that “You Are Here”. I also used the AllTrails app to stay on track.
From the parking lot, enter the trail to the left that leads into the woods with a “Bancroft Trail” sign. I liked the start of this trail because of the variety of terrain. You will find yourself climbing over rocks, roots, level changes, bridges, and more. There are also several large boulders along the way.
I took this trail all the way to Bigelow Boulder, and from there continued onto the Boulder Lane Loop. This loop is a wider, more level trail coated with gravel.
After the loop, you can re-enter the trail that you started from. Make sure you are paying attention to the “You Are Here” signs as well as your AllTrails app to find the right trail. I found myself having to backtrack after I noticed that I was heading in the wrong direction to return to my car, thanks to my app.
Now I am looking forward to trying other trails throughout Whitey & Thayer Woods. I have my eye on Turkey Hill next!
My Walking “Uniform”
New England weather is unpredictable! I wear almost the same thing every time I go for a walk, and it always includes three things:
- Back to that unpredictable weather – Layers! Most times I start with the tank, zip pullover, and vest, but end up in only the tank!
- A hat to protect my face from the sun. I don’t wear sunglasses because it is beneficial for our circadian rhythm if our eyes are exposed to the full spectrum of sunlight.
- Always hydrate! I love my Yeti water bottle! Depending on the time of day, it can hold my morning smoothie (and keep it cold!) or plain old water.