The North and South Rivers Watershed Association struck public participation gold last year when it offered the “Explore South Shore Contest” to encourage families to discover new spaces to visit.
Described as “fifty places for fifty years,” the contest was created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the formation of the nonprofit advocacy group to protect the natural resources of the North and South Rivers region.
The Explore South Shore Contest offers people “50 places to take their kids for a walk,” said the organization’s nature writer, Kezia Bacon. “They’re all local and they don’t cost a thing.”
“It was very successful,” Bacon said, noting that the outreach coincided with the pandemic. “People were stuck with very little to do. We were able to give them 50 suggestions of places they could go and be safe and take a walk.”
Delighted by the public response to last year’s contest, the nonprofit organization decided to repeat and expand the outreach contest in 2021 to 52 places for the year’s 52 weeks.
Upcoming places to explore in this year’s contest include some old favorites such as the Myles Standish Monument State Reservation in Duxbury and World’s End in Hingham; the relatively new Hoyt-Hall Preserve in Marshfield; and North Hill Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Duxbury, a preserve situated among extensive forests.
Admission is free to Trustees members, but others must pay. And all visitors are required to reserve a time for their visit at www.thetrustees.org.
Lori Wolfe, the water association’s marketing and communications director, said that participants’ favorite places to visit last year included Rexhame Beach in Marshfield, Burrage Pond in Hanson, The Spit in Scituate, the Norwell Pathway, and the Rockland Rail Trail.
Wolfe said visits to the contest page in 2020 totaled almost 127,000. So far this year, she said, “we’re on track to exceed those numbers, and we haven’t even gotten into the part of the year when people are getting outside much.”
To take part in the contest, she said, people need to take a photo of their visit to the site and upload it to the watershed association’s Instagram page with the hashtag #ExploreSouthShore. Participants can upload their photos at www.instagram.com/northsouthrivers.
“Then we choose from the entries every month and the winner wins an NSRWA swag bag,” Wolfe said.
The swag in the bag includes a baseball hat and a beanie, a neck gator, tote bag, a themed T-shirt, and the association’s guide map to places and trails within the watershed.
Bacon said that in devising the contest, the organization went beyond the North and South rivers watershed to include the entire South Shore.
Contest weeks begin on Fridays. The site targeted for the week ending on April 29 is the Pudding Hill Reservation, offering a pond-side meadow, stream, and woods on a site close to Marshfield Center.
The “place to explore” for the week beginning on Friday, April 30, is Myles Standish Monument State Reservation, an interesting site both for its historical significance and for the extensive view. A Mayflower Pilgrim, Standish left the Plymouth village for Duxbury in 1627 when the colony’s land was divided among its members. The monument is built on a high point overlooking Duxbury Beach and the bay.
“The view from the top of the hill is fantastic,” Bacon said.
For the following week, beginning May 7, the place to explore is World’s End in Hingham, a matchless South Shore headland extending into Hingham Harbor, with views of the Hull peninsula and the Boston skyline.
“What an amazing place,” Bacon said. It consists of “two or three drumlin hills that form a peninsula that juts into the ocean.” Originally planned by Frederick Law Olmsted, who laid out the site’s carriage road, it was slated to be a waterfront community. Later the property was considered as a site for the United Nations, Bacon said. Eventually, area residents worked with the Trustees of Reservations to purchase the land and preserve it. Currently, visitors are required to reserve a time for their visit.
The targeted site for the week of May 14 is the Hoyt-Hall Preserve in Marshfield. Owned by the Wildlands Trust, Bacon described it as a relatively new preserve opened to the public in 2016.
“It’s beautiful,” Bacon said. The 123-acre site’s walking trails include historic cart paths. One trail loops around a water feature called Long Tom Pond. Located off Route 139, where parking is available, the property is bordered by an extensive marsh that goes down to the shoreline.
The site for the week of May 21 is North Hill Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary in Duxbury, a Mass Audubon property located off Mayflower Street. The property features a 90-acre pond at its center and numerous trails. Completely surrounded by town forests, the sanctuary is part of a 1,000-acre stretch of conservation land.
The week of May 28 site to explore is the Whitney and Thayer Woods, located in Cohasset and Hingham and bordering two other conservation properties, the Weir River Farm and Turkey Hill. The site is a Trustees of Reservations property that features a nearly 4-mile loop trail.
Robert Knox can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.