North River Wildlife Sanctuary provides short, clearly marked, and well-maintained trails. The signage is excellent, both in terms of trail markers and learning stations that talk about the habitats, animals, and even the solar panels on the property. In general, Mass Audubon is also very conscious of accessibility: the trail we took could be done with a stroller or a wheelchair (if you don’t mind pushing through mowed grass). Also, many of the signs are in braille, and there is a sensory playground. Furthermore, Mass Audubon has sensory friendly hikes/days (for more information, visit https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/north-river). There is a cost to enter many Mass Audubon properties, but we find them worth it; it’s a great organization to support. (Trail tip: a yearly membership purchased in June 2021 is almost half price. We recommend hiking free trails in the spring and then purchasing the membership in June at half off. Then you can use it the rest of the year to access Mass Audubon properties all around the state. A family of 4 will recoup the membership fee after about 2 hikes.)
While our hiking route was only about 3/4 of a mile, we were rewarded with amazing views of the gorgeous North River from the Observation Platform. We were also lucky enough to see snakes, all sorts of birds (including birds of prey; bring your binoculars), and a mother turkey and her babies. We also saw ticks–HUNDREDS of them. They were on the tops of the long grass, just waiting for people to brush into them. We found numerous ticks on ourselves throughout the hike. Be warned–check yourself carefully. Because of all the wildlife here, no pets are allowed on the property.
HOW TO GET THERE
Mass Audubon’s North River Wildlife Sanctuary
2000 Main St.
Marshfield, MA 02050
Enter from 3A and follow the drive all the way to the houses/solar panels/parking lot.
TRAIL DESCRIPTION & MAP:
Both the River Loop and the Woodland Loop are fairly short, but because it was hot (and because of all the ticks we discovered) we stuck to the River Loop. We picked up the trail from the headquarters and followed the path behind the solar panels. There is a cool sensory playground where the River and Woodland Loops split. We played there for a bit before crossing a road and heading through the fields of the River Loop. You really can’t get lost–everything is well marked. Make sure you take the wooden boardwalk from the River Loop to the edge of the water–the observation platform provides amazing views of the river!
Rated on a scale of 1 (difficult/not good) to 5 (easy/awesome!)
P – Parking & Access – 4 (there are about 20 parking spots in a circular gravel lot)
I – Interest Level – 4 (the kids loved the wildlife we saw along the trail; the sensory playground; and the view of the boats, windmill, and bridge from the Observation Platform)
N – Navigation – 5 (well-marked trails, a small property, and a water boundary make for easy navigation)
T – Terrain – 4 (fairly flat; mowed grass, boardwalks, and some packed dirt/exposed tree roots; wheelchair and stroller accessible)
The P.I.N.T. Score represents our opinions on this trail. It reflects our experience, perception, and physical health. Therefore, the scores are not intended to be expert advice, nor will they be accurate for everyone: we cannot judge what may or may not be appropriate for each individual’s different abilities. Consult a physician or medical expert before attempting any new physical activity. Hiking contains inherent hazards, so hike at your own risk. You should always make your own decisions about what level of physical activity is appropriate for you and your family. Weather and other factors may affect trail conditions. Remember, trail conditions may change suddenly and drastically at any time.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- The Sensory Playground: a perfect place to play hot lava!
2. The free telescope. Just be careful–this is where we picked up a lot of ticks and first noticed how prevalent they are here!
3. The boardwalk and the Observation Platform….for beautiful views of the North River!
Here are some other pictures from our hike!
This property is very close to Hornstra Dairy Farm, our favorite ice cream on earth. We talk about this place a lot…it’s so good, though! Don’t miss it! For local beer, check out Stellwagen Beer Company or Untold Brewing in Scituate.