Date Of Visit: December 4, 2016
Location: 2000 Main St, Marshfield, MA (about 45 minutes south of Boston, MA)
Hours: Mon-Fri, 8:30 am-4 pm
Sat (April-December), 9 am-4 pm
Closed Sundays (hours may change depending on the season)
Trails are open dawn to dusk
Cost: Members: Free
$3 Children (2-12)
$3 Seniors (65+)
Parking: There are about a 15-20 parking spaces in the main parking area (street parking may also be available)
Dog Friendly: No, Mass Audubon parks do not allow dogs
Handicapped Friendly: No, the trails are rocky and hard to navigate in some areas
Trail Size/Difficulty: 225 acres, 2.5 mile loop, easy trail difficulty with gentle inclines
Highlights: birds, wildlife, views of the water, boardwalks, nature center
Web Site: North River Wildlife Sanctuary
Trail Map: North River Wildlife Sanctuary Trail Map
Nestled about half way between Boston, MA to the north and Caped Cod to the south, Marshfield, MA is a serene trail that also happens to bethe home to one of the best places for bird watching.
North River Wildlife Sanctuary actually has two sections to the trails. At least I consider them two sections. The trail from the nature education center
The trails at North River are easy with some slight inclines. Boardwalks allow access over marshland and wetland. However, not all of the trails are on clearly marked trails. Look for yellow and blue marked trees to ensure you stay on the trails. .
Along the trail closest to the nature center, there is a trail that is mostly dirt with soem gravel paths and boardwalks. If you do take some side trails (I suggest you do), you may come across some trails like the one pictured above that is covered in leaves and not clearly defined. Most trails are even with some minor inclines.
Along the trails there are some educational and recreational objects.
This sign identifies a certain type of bark and needles along the trail. There is also a tent for visitors to play with. There used to be two of them but they felt it made visitors too tense.
The Woodland Loop (the main trail from the educational center) leads to the Hannah Ames Trail (named after a former resident of the land). The 2.5 mile loop is easy with some pretty views. I heard lots of birds but failed to photograph many of them (this is atheme with my visit as you will see later). But the views are pretty and a boardwalk covers some wetland.
The gem of the sanctuary, has to be the trail that leads to the boardwalk with the observation platform by the North River. The signs for the River Loop trail, which veers off from the Woodland Loop after a quarter of a mile or so, are sort of tucked away. As a reference point, if you reach the tent on the Woodland Loop you’ve gone too far.
Once you cross the busy Summer Street (be careful), you will see a trail that leads to an open area with views of the North River in the distance.
There is a well worn grass trail that leads to a boardwalk over a wetland area. Trust me, there is a bird in the first photo in the bottom row. I swear.
The boardwalk leads to a very cool observation platform with cattails and other plants and trees along the sides of the platform.
The views from the platform are very pretty. I didn’t see much bird activity and it was a fairly cold day with a blustery wind during my visit.
After leaving the platform area, I noticed a somewhat hidden trail, the Red Maple Loop. For some reason, perhaps because of the thick brush and because it is heavily wooded, this is where I saw and heard the most activity. In fact, I saw some bucks while I entered the trail but they caught me by surprise and I couldn’t get their photo. There were lots of birds on this trail though. Again, they’re very hard to photograph. But, I did manage to photograph a few of them.
This Mass Audubon site also utilizes solar power as part of their commitment to the environment.
Below is a video from the observation platform by the North River. As you can tell by the audio, it was a pretty windy day!